Writing

Writing What Hurts : Characters, and why so Few are Memorable

Characters, and Why So Few are Memorable

There is a very old, and very wise, bit of writing wisdom. “Write what you know…” This can be taken too simplistically, and too seriously, but at its core, it’s truth.  The reason most of the characters you will encounter in books, on TV, and in movies do not stick with you is very often they are paper thin. You also must write who you know. Crazy computer hackers always have stacks of monitors, racks of servers, dark rooms with flashing lights and these days at least one screen scrolling symbols like the screen saver that came out after The Matrix. When I see or read all of that, I shake my head.

I’ve worked most of my adult life in computers, computer security, and networks. I have met a lot of hackers and computer gurus. They are more likely to have a single notebook, maybe a server at home with more power… something they can close the lid on and run. Sure, they have gadgets and gimmicks, but what the big banks of monitors and dark rooms tell me is… the creator needed a computer expert, or an evil hacker, and they wrote what they’ve seen others write, rather than trying to dig deeper and find out the truth.

It’s how we ended up with so many Hannibal Lector, high-intellect serial killers, bumbling FBI agents, forensics labs with the time to concentrate a dozen people around the clock on a single case and many other endless clichés. They write well, people “get” what you’re doing and saying… but if you remember those characters it will be for something else they did… not for the characterization, or the dark screen-filled room.

So, how does that relate to writing what you know? You have a perspective. You have your own skills, knowledge, and you have your ability to research. If you write about a plumber, you are going to write about a plumber in the context of your experience with plumbers. You can widen your perspective by reading, actually talking to plumbers about what it is you need to happen, how it would play out in the real world. Even then, it’s wise to limit yourself to writing about your character, and embellishing that character with as much reality as you can without going too far and writing or having your character say something that will push buttons on readers who know more about plumbing than you do. It’s tricky business.

I recently read a pretty good mystery by an award-winning, Internationally bestselling author. It had a lot in it about falcons, and raptors. Repeatedly, he referred to them (and had his character who was purportedly an expert) refer to them as “raptor birds,” instead of simply raptors. I love raptors. I’m not an expert on them, but it was enough of a faux pas to really grate on my nerves, and if it affected me that way – I have to believe that people who know about falconry and birds of prey would be squirming – and they would have to be at least a peripheral market for the book.

It’s even trickier when you start writing about specific characters – say – a theoretical physicist. You are safest writing such a character as a person, and avoiding attempts to cleverly let people into their theoretical thoughts, or going too far in describing things. Most people know about Schrödinger’s Cat, and a few bits and pieces about chaos theory and string theory from The Big Bang Theory and Jurassic Park… but that is the paper-thin character I mentioned above. If you are not capable of thinking like a theoretical physicist, you should write the parts of that character that you can understand, their life, loves, tics and prejudices, but not try to pass yourself off as an expert in their field.

What you know is how you see people, how you see men and women you’ve met and interacted with, the things about certain types of characters that you would expect to encounter in a real-life scenario. Characters who matter to you will matter to your readers… characters who remind them of every other character of a “type” they have ever encountered, will not.

In keeping with the theme of this book I’m writing, don’t forget that you don’t like everyone, and some people you like to obsession, or love, or crave or loathe. If you are afraid to reach that level with the characters, you may write a darn good yarn, but a year after reading the book, no one will remember them.

Do Me a Favor… Read one of My Books. Seriously…

I have thousands of followers and friends on social media platforms.  In my career, I know, I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of books… but what I would like to see … since I’m still here, still writing, and still hoping to bring a little enjoyment to readers, is everyone connected to me… everyone who has laughed at the jokes, or whose books I’ve published, or who runs with me (or talks about running with me) – everyone who has connected to me for whatever reason … read one of my books.  Make an old guy happy.   I posted pretty much this same note on Facebook, and realized as the questions came in that it would be a good idea to have a post with all my available books in it and a short explanation. These are not GOOD short explanations, and in most cases they probably don’t do the books justice, but it’s as start.  You can find all of my books on Amazon at this link:  David Niall Wilson on Amazon… Here is the list:

Non-Fiction: 

American Pies- Baking with Dave the Pie Guy – a semibiographical book that also includes recipes for a number of pies – including “The American Pie”.

Short Story Collections:

  • The Whirling Man and Other Tales of Blood and Madness – short fiction – the theme is – these are the more literary horror stories I have done that I love, and that have gotten mixed reviews for being too… literary.
  • Defining Moments – collection of short stories – nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, contains the first printing of the Stoker winning story “The Gentle Brush of Wings.”
  • An Unkindness of Ravens – collection of stories with Patricia Lee Macomber – all involving Poet.
  • The Call of Distant Shores – collection of my more Lovecraftian stories.
  • Etched Deep & Other Dark Impressions – stories and poetry
  • Intermusings – A collection of collaborations – with Brian Keene, Brian A. Hopkins, Mark Rainey, John Rosenman, Brett Savory, Patricia Lee Macomber, Richard Rowand and more.
  • Spinning Webs and Telling Lies – Weird Western stories written with Brian A. Hopkins, plus one original from each of us.
  • The Fall of the House of Escher & Other Illusions – my very first collection, published long ago. Several stories in this collection became novels.
  • A Taste of Blood and Roses – Mostly vampire / werewolf, and other creature stories collected.
  • The Compleate Pigge – Surreal dark fantasy tales about a boy who may, or may not have been a crazed serial killer, or from a family of them, or just an artist… Johnson Milhone.

HORROR / Dark Fantasy:

  • Darkness Falling – fairly traditional vampire novel about a rock band and a concert on a mountain in Germany.  Eventual tie-in with other novels.
  • Ancient Eyes – Horror – Set in the mountains of California – loose sequel to Deep Blue, but a completely different story.
  • The Preacher’s Marsh – a novella cut from the novel Gideon’s Curse
  • Deep Blue – A guitarist / vocalist is gifted / cursed with the ability to play away the pain of the world through his music. King / Koontz style “big” story …
  • Gideon’s Curse – Supernatural horror novel set in reconstruction North Carolina – deals with racism, religious persecution… and (sort of) zombies.
  • Roll Them Bones – A novella from the Cemetery Dance series – friends return to a small town to deal with what appears to be ghosts from their past.
  • On the Third Day – Religious Horror – a young priest experiences the Stigmata … a Vatican investigator tries to get to the truth behind it… before it is too late.
  • Maelstrom – horror – a group of kids discover a strange ritual in a graveyard. It’s up to them, the local detective, and a rock band to prevent the summoning of ancient evil.
  • This is My Blood – First novel sold – a retelling of the Gospel through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, fallen angel cursed to be a vampire…

SF

  • The Mote in Andrea’s Eye – written to be “clean” so my teenaged daughter could read it – SF thriller about a woman who loses her father to a hurricane as a child, and grows up to try and fight them – includes Operation Storm Fury, and beyond…
  • Remember Bowling Green– The Adventures of Frederick Douglass – Time Traveler – written with Patricia Lee Macomber – Ronald Krump tries to take over Bowling Green, Kentucky, but is pitted against Frederick, a stoner, and several local citizens.
  • The Orffyreus Wheel – Historical SF –  parallel timelines in the 1700s and present involving a perpetual motion device.
  • The Second Veil – Book II of the Tales of the Scattered Earth – a planet where all cities are domed, and only strange lighter-than-air ships and sealed tunnels provide access from city to city.

THRILLER

  • ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky – Surreal Thriller set in Old Mill NC involving drugs and crop-dusting.
  • Sins of the Flash – Psychological Thriller about a crazed photographer turned serial killer.
  • Block 10 – written with Stacy Childs – thriller set in France – MMA fighting, skiing, drugs, and Nazi scientists trying to affect professional athletes.

FANTASY

  • Heart of a Dragon – Book I of the DeChance Chronicles.  Urban fantasy.
  • Vintage Soul – Book II of the DeChance Chronicles (actually the first that was published) A 300 year old vampire is kidnapped, and Donovan DeChance is hired to save her.
  • My Soul to Keep & Others – Book III of the DeChance Chronicles (loosely) contains the title story – Donovan’s origin – and other novellas that tie into the world and area of the DeChance Chronicles timeline.
  • Kali’s Tale – Book IV of the DeChance Chronicles – The young vampire Kali takes off on a blood quest to the Great Dismal Swamp to confront her maker – Donovan is hired to follow along and watch over them. It goes badly.
  • Crockatiel – A novel in the OCLT series about a genetic accident that causes a prehistoric creature to grow in the Great Dismal Swamp…
  • Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe – set in North Carolina at the historic Halfway House – which rested on the border of NC and VA. Dark fantasy.
  • The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature – Dark Fantasy / SF set in Old Mill NC…
  • The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & the Crazy Case of Foreman James – Dark Fantasy and NC history – set in Old Mill, NC.
  • The Temple of Camazotz – A novella in the OCLT series set along the Mexican border where beheaded bodies are turning up.
  • The Parting – first novel in the O.C.L.T. series – ancient magic, terrorism, history – and computers.
  • Hallowed Ground – written with Steven Saville – Weird Western filled with mythology, and magic.

CHILDRENS:

  • The Skeleton Inside Me
  • The Kingdom of Clowns

TIE-IN:

  • Chrysalis – Star Trek Voyager #12
  • Brimstone – Stargate Atlantis #15 (with Patricia Lee Macomber)
  • The Grails Covenant Trilogy– White Wolf World of Darkness Vampires
  • Except You Go Through Shadows – Set in the White Wolf World of Wraith – published in “The Essential World of Darkness”
  • Dark Ages Clan Novel LASOMBRA – Dark Ages vampires set in France
  • Dark Ages Clan Novel – Malkavian ( wrote ¼ of it – an odd situation)
  • Relic of the Dawn – set in the White Wolf world of EXALTED – undead armies and owl women.

 

Writing What Hurts – Part the 7th (I think)

5.

 

A lot of people join the military.  There are myriad reasons for this – adventure, to see the world, to take some time and figure out whether you want college, and what you want from it.  All of those are good, valid reasons.  None of them were mine.  I spent most of my life in a small town, not fitting in all that well at school and trying to find ways to deal with the abusive, alcoholic step-father life dealt me.

No, he never beat me.  He did launch me off the ground with a broom once, but I thoroughly deserved that.  My brother and I had been considering getting into an old oil barrel and rolling down a steep hill toward the lake below…  Bob – never dad – was a big man.  He had his own issues – raised in the depression on or near an Amish farm.  Grew up to serve as a police officer and (I believe) a pilot for a while in a non-wartime military.  When I met him, he was a barber.

I have never understood the relationship he and my mother shared.  She seemed to spend most of her life in trying not to make him angry, while sneaking behind his back to see that my brother and I had some kind of life of our own beyond him.  Bob’s idea of how our days should be spent was in going to school – only because we had to – coming home – and working.  He was always working on something, a glass of Seagram’s 7 and 7-Up in one hand and a cheap, stinking cigar in the other.  We were expected to be part of it.  He could build things.  He could fix cars.  He could fly a plane, and even taught my mom to do it.  What he could not do was – in any way at all – relate to people other than his few old friends, and though he seemed to get along well with his own son, he was pathetically inept at dealing with me, or my brother.

After very, very long hours of thought, my brother and I have come to the conclusion he was possibly gay, and just never had the courage to come out of the closet.  He and my mom slept in different rooms.  He insulated his with cork and air-conditioned it to near freezing.  Most of the jokes he made were off-color and inappropriate.  He was prejudiced to a fault, and when the family (on the rare occasions we were allowed out of our bedroom) watched Archie Bunker, Bob laughed with Archie while the rest of us laughed at them both.  Bob was Archie Bunker and proud of it.  He had more ethnic slurs memorized than I do 70s and 80s pop songs, and that is one of my super powers.

I remember one winter how he sent us out to shovel snow off the driveway.  Not a bad thing, in and of itself, though we were not very old or large or strong.  Here’s the thing, though.  It was still snowing.  By the time we hit the end of the drive (which was long) it was covered again.  Southern Illinois in winter is VERY cold.  Our toes were near frostbite.  We did this for HOURS and he would not let us stop, or come in.  On top of it all – he owned a 12 hp tractor with a snow plow, and when we were finished…then he went out and plowed it after the snow stopped.  This is the type of thing that happened any time he was given control of the situation, so – for our own survival – we found ways to avoid as much contact with him as humanly possible.

I remember one day, out in the sun, not allowed to get a drink, trying to hold sheets of particle board siding against the wall without letting them move as he stood back and cocked his head, drank his beer, or whiskey, and took his sweet time deciding to nail it into place.  We were so tired – so hot.  At some point, I had a spade in my hand.  I don’t remember what job required that, but there it was.  In those few short moments, I remember considering slamming it into the back of his head repeatedly, and taking my chances – as a juvenile – in the system. I truly, truly hated him.  I was told I would get over that when I grew up.  I never did, though I came to sort of pity him and the anger drained away.

Later in life, to show he never changed, I visited home with my first wife.  At this point, Bob and my mom slept in different halves of a duplex (reinforcing the separate room thing to a ridiculous degree).  We were in mom’s half, on a fold-out couch in her family room.  Before we woke, he came in, and sat in a chair.  Then he grinned and started talking, and very clearly thought if he waited long enough, we’d both get out from under the covers without dressing and prance around for his entertainment.  I had to get up and tell him to get out so she could dress.  The creep factor was huge. During that trip he also had a near psychotic break because, having hated anything but whole milk all of my life, I had the temerity to buy some and put it in the refrigerator. It might have been the depression years talking, but he was absolutely insanely angry about what he considered a ridiculous waste of money when Skim and 2% were cheaper. Funny the cost of whiskey never came up.

Anyway… why do I mention all of this?  Not really for therapeutic purposes, but just to show another aspect of how your life can inform your creative process.  All of the things that I blame on that man, and the life I lived before I left for the US Navy, are a part of what I’ve written, what I will write in the future, the decisions I make as a man, husband, father.  Writing is like life, when it’s done right, and the things that ache – the things that hurt – the things that drive you near the edge of madness – those are the things that give your words power – side by side with the wonder you find in the world, the love and relationships and success you encounter along the way.  These are the influences that insure you have something to say – and if you don’t – why are you writing?

You will find part of my life in those days in the childhood of Brandt, the protagonist of my fairly popular novel Deep Blue. Writing that was therapeutic.

You thought I was going to talk about boot camp, and I am.  I first escaped home by spending a lot of time in a church.  I walked in that world for a time, and when I left home, I was still mired firmly in that dream.  As I said a few pages back – in 1997 I left for the United States Navy – EVERYTHING changed.

 

A Midnight Dreary – Book V of the DeChance Chronicles Underway

Work is well underway as A Midnight Dreary passes the 30,000 word mark. I’m sort of doing Nanowrimo this year, in that the book will pass 50k before the end of the month, but it will be much longer than that. At 30k I have only just reached the beginning of the three separate threads that will bring all the main characters, Donovan and Edgar Allan Poe from my novel Nevermore, Bullfinch, and a new O.C.L.T. member heading to New Orleans to meet with Copper and Alicia from my novel Darkness falling, and Amethyst, Cletus J. Diggs, and old Nettie headed into the Great Dismal Swamp.

This novel, probably the most complex and ambitious of my career, will draw firmly together the adventures of the O.C.L.T. – Donovan DeChance and his world, Cletus J. Diggs and Old Mill, North Carolina, and the open strands left (read that as surviving characters) from Darkness Falling… At least two versions of Poe stories from a very different perspective, one well known and one obscure – multiple continents… world building.

One thing readers have asked for is a fleshing out of the character Amethyst, Donovan’s love interest, and this novel will not disappoint. There will also be revelations in the odd and discordant career of the Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs…

The cover art was purchased from a Russian artist, Konstantin Korobov… the cover design is by David Dodd…

More updates to follow.  There is an excerpt from this book titled MASQUERADE available along with several of my other works, including the entire novel “Heart of a Dragon,” first in this series.

Halloween Post #2 Ten Horror Novels I love

I am not going to say these are my ten favorite horror novels, they probably are not. These are ten horror novels I’ve read and have not been able to forget – ten books I think you will enjoy, and that I consider to be classics… you will find that I have cheated and there are actually twelve books… but I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me…

In no particular order:

Skin – by Kathe Koja – I bought this at my first big horror convention, and I read it – in one sitting – on the train on the way home. Kathe has a way of drawing you into the world of very tortured characters, making you not only understand, but feel their pain… this is a very literary, very intense novel.

Fever Dream – by George R. R. Martin – One of my favorite vampire novels.  A different setting, a different take on an ancient curse… not to be missed.

(Trilogy) Koko / Mystery / The Throat – by Peter Straub – here is where I cheat. If you read just Koko, you will not be disappointed… but to truly appreciate what Peter did here, you need to read all three.  Imagine sitting through an entire year of history, or math – you finally grasp everything for the final exam, and pass… then come back the next year an learn the same subject – but find that everything you thought you knew was wrong…   And then, in the third year? It happens again.

Boy’s Life – by Robert McCammon – Hands down my favorite coming-of-age horror novel. With a dinosaur.

Lightning – by Dean Koontz – I have read and enjoyed dozens of Dean’s novels, but this one sticks out for me.  The detail was exquisite, and it may well be the most well-crafted time-travel novel of all time.

Something Wicked This Way Comes – by Ray Bradbury – This should come as no surprise to anyone… Bradbury was a master, and this is my favorite of his novels.

The Old Gods Waken – by Manly Wade Wellman – The first “Silver John” novel – I would have chosen The Lost & Lurking, but thought it best to choose the FIRST of these wonderful novels of the North Carolina mountains and their magic.

The Haunting of Hill House – by Shirley Jackson – The template against which haunted house novels have been modeled and judged all of my life. A wonderful story.

The Song of Kali – by Dan Simmons – This novel is very well researched and one of the darkest, most twisted tales I’ve ever encountered.  Very few books give me shivers, but this one managed it.

Christine – by Stephen King – I am a huge fan of Steve’s work. I’ve read very nearly everything he’s ever written, and have loved most of it – all for different reasons.  For some reason, this haunted car stuck with me, and I believe it might be the same reason The Mangler made my list of memorable stories.  It should be ridiculous, given only the plot to work with – a car that rolls backward and gets younger… a creepy old ghost… but it is not.  It is very real, and has some absolutely CREEPY moments… if it’s a King you have ignored – you should not.

For Halloween – 10 Horror Stories I love and You Should Read

For Halloween… something I wanted to share.  Here are ten horror stories that I love, and that I believe everyone should read. They are diverse… but the one thing they have in common is that they stuck in my mind and would not let me go…  Without further ado:

“Smoothpicks” – Elizabeth Massie – one of the most intense short stories I have read… left a serious mark.

“Blind and Blue” – Wayne Allen Sallee – the first of many stories by Wayne that I have not been able to get out of my head.

“Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity” – David Morrell – Befoer I knew he wrote Rambo, or read anything… I loved this.

“Scartaris, June 28th” – Harlan Ellison – I am not the huge fan of Ellison that most are, but I loved this.

“His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood” – Poppy Z. Brite – one of the first things I read by Poppy… led to meeting her and selling a story to Love in Vein II

“The Encyclopedia for Boys” – Jeffrey Osier – a truly unforgettable story, and a beautiful example of tying horror to long-buried childhood memory.

“The Last Feast of Harlequin” – Thomas Ligotti – I had a hard time figuring out which of Ligotti’s stories to choose. This is one of my favorites.

“Fugue Devil” – Stephen Mark Rainey – I live in North Carolina. I will always have half my attention over my shoulder.

“The Alchemy of the Throat” – Brian Hodge – This is no sparkly vampire story. This is vampire fiction taken to a very deep level, emotionally and psychologically

“The Mangler” – by Stephen King – My absolute favorite example of suspension of disbelief. A story that works, scares, and then sounds ridiculous when you try to explain what it’s about.

 

A Storyteller’s Birthday Wish

I am a storyteller. For years now I’ve spent more time helping bring other people’s stories out than I have writing my own… and I’m okay with that, because I AM still writing… but tomorrow is my birthday. Instead of just stopping by and saying Happy happy… let’s interact. Below is a link to my Amazon page with almost literally everything I’ve written available… in the first comment will be a list of my books available through Kindle Unlimited for those people who subscribe, so you can find my books that are available for you to read for free. Most of my audiobooks are whispersync ready and can be had for a pittance beyond the eBook price. MANY of them are available in print, some for the first time just this year in trade paperback. What I want for my birthday is simple. Read something of mine. Tell me what you read, what of mine you have liked (or loved) (or even hated). If you have a favorite thing of mine, leave a review on Amazon, or Goodreads… sign up for the free signed copy giveaway on Goodreads for my novel Gideon’s Curse… buy “Remember Bowling Green” so I can donate the money to the ACLU… the thing that would make me feel the best on my birthday would be to entertain some people, and to feel as if I write – and I talk about that – and it’s of more than slight, passing interest to a few of the thousands of folks who follow me between this profile and my author page… Going to put this on my author page as well, and on my blog so it goes to Goodreads, and on Wattpad, where literally tens of thousands of people read my novel Heart of a Dragon for free, and loved it (from the comments) but could not ring themselves to pay the $2.99 or $3.99 to read the rest of the series… writing is a lonely profession… help a fella out.

AMAZON’S DAVID NIALL WILSON PAGE

DAVID NIALL WILSON ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

Rich Chizmar, Cemetery Dance … a Flashback Post

_cd001large1I am in the middle of a HUGE reorganization of all my writing files, backups, folders, books, stories… and more. I’ve rediscovered things I’ve lost, found things I don’t even remember writing… and it’s set in motion a great fixing and cleansing of things… One thing I have found is that I have written a LOT of articles, reviews, blog posts, etc… and some of it bears revisiting.  Some of the comments in this post are dated – because it’s 2016, and the article was written in 2004…

It defines a moment in my career, and those who know my work know how I feel about Defining Moments…

Without Further Ado:

Some time in 1988, I’m not sure what month; I was sitting around with my good buddy John B. Rosenman.  He and I were in a writing frenzy that year, and in years to come.  We submitted to any market that surfaced on the horizon, and, having been at it longer than I had been at the time, John was very successful at landing slots in them.  I was telling him about a story I’d sold to After Hours Magazine, and he told me about the premiere issue of Cemetery Dance.  He showed me the magazine; its cover was a sort of grotesque, striking black and white illustration.  I knew a lot of the folks being published in that first issue – others I did not know.  I didn’t know Rich Chizmar, for one, and made a mental note that I should do so.

What followed was a period in my career where two men saw (literally) hundreds of thousands of words of my earlier fiction and turned it all down.  Between Stephen Mark Rainey at Deathrealm, and Rich Chizmar, I probably produced two novels worth of short stories that were not quite right for their publications.  Still, I continued, because they were encouraging.  Rich, in particular, was an inspiration to me.  I was publishing a magazine called The Tome, and though I was having successes of my own, I watched Rich go quickly from a solid start to the successor to Dave Silva’s Horror Show in literally only a few issues.  Everyone was talking about Cemetery Dance, and this spurred me on both to improve my own magazine, and to write something that would catch Rich’s attention.

Oddly, when I finally did so, it was a story he’d already passed on.  Somehow my tale, “The Mole,” stuck with him, and one day I got a phone call.  “Do you still have that tunnel rat story?” he asked.  That moment changed my career forever – I believe that.  It was a sale I had coveted since the late eighties, and when it finally happened (that was the Fall, 1990 issue) it felt like one of those career-changing epiphanies.  When that same story was reprinted in “The Best of Cemetery Dance,” I was in heaven.  That was another first that Rich gave me – my first appearance in a book signed by myself and by Stephen King (thankfully not my last).  I went on to sell a number of stories to Rich over the years and a novella, and he has always been encouraging to me – very positive and upbeat despite the curve balls life has thrown us both.

I have to say that when I first sat and leafed through issue number one of Cemetery Dance, I should have been more perceptive.  He hit the horror business like a comet and we never saw him coming.  After fifteen years and more than fifty publications, (Remember, this was written back in 2004) and with a future as bright as he wants it to be, Rich is the guy we should all be looking to when we need inspiration – and has always been there for me when I needed his support.  Congratulations on 15 years of amazing accomplishments Rich.  We still need to get together for golf.

Amazon’s New Kindle Unlimited Payment Plan Explained Rationally

2012-12-23 14.51.38 (Shadeauxland's conflicted copy 2013-01-02)

NOW THAT THE BIRD HAS YOUR ATTENTION… Listen up.

First off – I wish theoretically honest, up-front bloggers and journalists who don’t use Amazon as a publishing platform or – in most cases – even write books – would quit splashing alarmist headlines all over the net ‘explaining’ how Amazon is now going to give your work away for free and it’s the end of books.  I’m going to use bullet points and make this as quick and clear as I can.

1) The new payment plan Amazon just unveiled does not affect your books that are available for “sale” on Amazon at all.  It only affects books that have been published exclusively on Amazon as part of their Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited Plans, and of those books, only the Kindle Unlimited books.  Any book that is just “bought” on Amazon is being paid exactly as it always was.

2) An upfront note.  It is a bad idea for most books to publish them exclusively on Amazon, and the Kindle Select program is only a good idea if you have a title that has proven itself to sell very well on Amazon and not so well anywhere else.  Out of the 1200 titles we currently have at Crossroad Press – we have maybe 8 in those programs.  Even those that ARE part of the program still generate a lot of sales each month, and those sales are paid at the same royalty rate they have always been.  Only when someone who has paid for a Kindle Unlimited Subscription “borrows” the book does the new plan come into affect.

3) The plan itself: If someone borrows your book, they have a particular amount of time to read it.  Amazon will monitor whether they actually read all of it, or part of it, and pay you for the number of pages (determined by a pretty generous algorithm, I can add, because I know that a book we published that was 500 pages in print has figured to 815 pages in their formula) that are read.  There is a pot of money – just like there has always been for Kindle Unlimited – but instead of paying you each time someone borrows your book, they are paying you for the number of pages read each time someone borrows your book.

4) The purpose is to stop scammers who have been gaming this system.  Everyone is upset that they think their share will drop, but honestly, a huge number of the borrows up to now have been people cheating you out of your money.  They upload a ten page pamphlet – or ten of them – and then have 100 friends borrow it – while they do the same for those 100 friends.  Every time that ten page pamphlet is borrowed, it gets the same share as a 500 page book by a talented author.  Also, there are tons of very short stories of questionable quality being uploaded just because numbers count in this game.  If you – instead of an 80-100k word book – write ten 1500 word stories – you can get an equal share every time one of those stories is borrowed – or you could. Now, you can still write them, but your share will be proportionate to the words and effort invested.

5) Quality of the offerings being borrowed is going to improve.  Good writers aren’t worried about people borrowing their books and quitting on page five.  People paying a subscription price are going to READ the books they borrow to get their money’s worth.  This system is better in every way than the previous system. It is not Amazon trying to cheat authors, it’s Amazon protecting authors from people trying to cheat the system.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Amazon is out for Amazon, but they aren’t – in this case anyway – doing it at your expense.

6) Most important thing.  The Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited programs are not right for most books.  As I stated above, only about 8 of our 1200 titles are in these programs.  They are there because they have consistently sold above average numbers on Amazon, whlie selling next to nothing anywhere else.  MOST books do not benefit from losing Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google, Kobo and all the other possible outlets.  IF YOUR BOOK IS NOT REGISTERED IN THE PROGRAMS THIS CHANGE MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO YOU.  NOTHING.  ZILCH.  That is the most important thing.  I’ve seen articles all over the net in theoretically trusted outlets and found that – without really checking their sources, they’ve cut a few lines from Amazons announcement and not applied them to the bigger picture – then splashed click-bait headlines all over about how Amazon is now only going to pay you a tiny amount per page – as if that was all of Amazon and not a single, exclusive program that you have to opt into to even be involved in.

I hope this helps clear some of the clouds from this issue… and I hope that – if you read this – you will think twice before sharing or retweeting one of the misleading and misinformed articles prophesizing the end of books because of this policy.  No one has even been paid under the new policy and already everyone is depressed, giving up writing, etc… I suggest you spend less time on blogs and FB and more time writing – it’s easier on your heart and mind.

-DNW

 

My Novel Sins of the Flash & the Mean Streets Storybundle

Sins_CoverWeb

 

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE BUNDLE

My novel Sins of the Flash is included in a very cool deal over at Storybundle.com starting today. I love these bundles…you pay what you want to pay and get six books, meet a bargain price for the lot and get five more.  It’s also very cool to be included along with authors I love and respect, like Clive Barker – who’s novel Cabal is in the bundle, David Morrell, who is in with The Brotherhood of the Rose as well as friends and colleagues I’ve known and worked with most of the twenty-five plus years of my career, Ed Gorman, Tom Piccirilli, Bill Pronzini, Steven Savile (who is the curator and creator of this collection that he calls MEAN STREETS).

There are some authors in the bundle I’ll be checking out myself for the first time – Maynard Sims, Tony Black, Sean Black, and Stephen Gallagher.  All of these books have a theme – something that ties them together.  Dark Streets.  Alienated characters – black-hearted villains and questionable heroes.  This is a bundle of books where crime noir meets horror – where mystery meets deeper shadow.

The Titles included are: Serpents Kiss  by Ed Gorman, Falling Apart at the Edges, by Maynard Sims, Carmody’s Run, by Bill Pronzini, Laughing Boy’s Shadow¸ by Steven Savile (one of my favorite novels ever), Truth Lies Bleeding, by Tony Black, Cabal, by Clive Barker, The Innocent, by Sean Black, Down River, by Stephen Gallagher, Nightjack, by Tom Piccirilli (complex and absolutely brilliant), and The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell.

My own novel, one of my favorite, has several distinctions.  It has one of my most amazing covers, courtesy of Mr. Harry O. Morris.  It was scheduled for publication by no less than three companies, all of which imploded, or ended up not publishing it.  Eventually, it found a home at my own Crossroad Press.  Sins of the Flash is the first novel-length appearances of detective Tommy Doyle, who also appeared in the short story “Burning Bridges,” in the anthology All Hell Breaking Loose.  Tommy comes from a family of police officers, most of whom either died badly, or spent their time chasing very strange crimes.

This novel features Christian Greve – a photographer who believes he has the talent to be world-famous, but who also believes his models have been sabotaging him by subtle shifts in their posture, or changes of expression.  It drives him – slowly – crazy.  Christian’s search for perfection leads him down some strange, dark streets, and it’s up to Tommy, and his partner “Big “Mac” Markum, to follow and stop him before the body count gets too high – and too personal.

This is a very dark novel.  It was written out at sea, on board the USS Guadalcanal.  Several of the characters are named for shipmates of mine – maybe they’ll see this deal and pick up a copy after all these years…  This mystery is also set in my fictional town of San Valencez, Califonia, where so many of my novels have started, or ended…  It’s one of my favorites, and I hope you’ll pick it up – along with all the others – and settle in to read.  If you do – and you like what you read in my book or any of the others, please take the time to stop by Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads.com and leave a rating or a review.  In this modern world of self-marketing and social media promotion – feedback from fans and readers is the only weapon an author possesses, unless he’s rich.

Along with all the wonderful books, these bundles support some very worthy charities.  A percentage of all income goes to Mighty Writers, Girls Write Now and Special Effect – what these people do:

SpecialEffect are putting fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with disabilities by helping them to play video games. By using technology ranging from modified games controllers to eye-control, they’re finding a way for people to play to the very best of their abilities. But they’re not just doing it for fun. By levelling the playing field, they’re bringing families and friends together and having a profoundly positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation.

Girls Write Now helps mentor girls so they can develop writing skills, leading to a more successful future no matter what path they decide to choose.

Distinguished as one of the top 15 after-school arts and culture programs in the nation by The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Girls Write Now is New York’s first and only organization with a writing and mentoring model exclusively for girls. From young women exploring writing to seasoned professionals practicing their craft every day, GWN is a community of women writers dedicated to providing guidance, support, and opportunities for high school girls to develop their creative, independent voices and write their way to a better future.

Over the past 15 years, more than 4,500 underserved teen girls have benefitted from the GWN community and 100% of seniors in our flagship mentoring program go on to college—bringing with them portfolios, awards, scholarships, new skills, and a sense of confidence. Girls Write Now has built a record of achievement and innovation recognized twice by the White House, by The New York Times, and the MacArthur Foundation, and evidenced by the hundreds of Scholastic Art & Writing awards our girls have earned.

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