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The Writer’s Journey – a Rant

The Writer’s Journey – a Rant

There’s a new plagiarism scandal happening. It involves a woman who is independently published. I have no intention of mentioning her name. I don’t want to give her any more publicity. In the links I have below, you can follow up with more information and they divulge her name and other pertinent details.
I think there are about twenty-eight authors (including Nora Roberts) whose work has been plagiarized. Again, you can find the information on the links I’ve listed.
I’ve been fighting piracy since the first e-book was produced. For a number of years I fought it every day, giving two hours a day to the effort of trying to protect my books. I involved my intellectual property attorney and used DMCA rules to take down sites where they were sharing free copies of my books to 10,000 of their closest friends. Sometimes, when I successfully won a battle with a certain forum, the members of the forum would then post 10 to 15 links to my books, each one containing ten mirror sites.
I did a lot of crying, but I never gave up. I got a certain reputation for being tenacious as hell. I also put up some bogus books, just to try and trap – successfully – other pirates.
I now employ two very successful pirate hunting companies to do daily work for me. It isn’t cheap, but I pay them gladly.
Piracy is theft, pure and simple. People have tried to explain that piracy is publicity. What a load of crap. Other people have tried to explain that it’s like whack a mole, the more you successfully pull down, the more goes up. That’s true, for a certain time, until they get the idea that you’re not going away, that you’re tenacious as hell, that you will fight for your work, and that you consider piracy theft.
Strangely enough, a great many authors will tell you not to bother about piracy. Obscurity is the problem, they’ll say. Not piracy. What a load of crap, part two. Yet the same authors who will willingly allow their work to be stolen are having hissy fits about plagiarism.
I don’t see a difference, frankly. One is theft on a mammoth scale. The other is not only stealing your work, it’s taking credit for it. They’re both theft.
God help the person who steals from me. They’re going to need the Cloak of Invisibility.
For the last five years it is my sincere belief that Amazon has done everything in their power to reward cheats and thieves. The system of Kindle Unlimited as designed rewards those who pad their books, produce a new book frequently, and game the system. There are numerous examples of how to do it. The result is that fortunes can be made by scam artists. Trust me, they come out of the woodwork just like the whack a mole pirates. However, in Amazon’s case, they don’t banish them. They reward them.
There are algorithms in place to make a book more visible if the author generates a new book often. That encourages people to either write a new book every month or use Fivr or other ghost writing conglomerates. The forum for Kindle authors actively promotes ghost writing manuscripts available for $200 for a 70,000 words book and as little as $30 for a collection of short stories.
Using ghostwriters is the excuse of the latest plagiarist. She blames the ghostwriters for plagiarizing. What a load of crap, part three.
Unfortunately, most of these scams happen in romance because romance sells better than any other genre.
I don’t have any answers. All I can tell you is that if there is a way for people to cheat, some people will cheat. What’s doubly insulting is when someone steals from you and then calls herself an author. Jeesh.
I don’t buy other people’s words. I create my own.
Neither do I play in a playground where the games are rigged. That’s why I don’t participate in Kindle Unlimited. Once upon a time I did, but once I learned how unfair and how rigged everything was, I pulled all my books out.
In this new scandal I blame Amazon as well as the greed of unscrupulous people. They hurt other people – writers – and they don’t care. Nothing will make them care. Not chastising them. Not publicly shaming them. Not appealing to their better nature – if they have one. Amazon has made it worth their while and I don’t think anything is going to change anytime soon. Oh, this kerfuffle will blow over and a new one will take it’s place in a week or so. Or a month or so. Or however long it takes to catch the newest plagiarist.
Being a writer isn’t an easy occupation. It’s been made even more difficult in the past ten years. You feel like you’re fighting on all fronts and sometimes you are.
Twitter hashtag: #copypastecris (and, as you know, you don’t have to belong to Twitter to read tweets.) 
Courtney Milan is one of the authors whose work has been stolen. Here’s her blog filled with information: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/
Too Much Salt Kills the Broth

Too Much Salt Kills the Broth

It is a fact that, when writing descriptions, less is more. If you overload your descriptions with too many adjectives and pile them on, the reader’s eyes glaze over. I’m one of those readers who mutters,” Oh, for heaven’s sake,” and skips whole paragraphs or even pages.

I once read three paragraphs at the beginning of a book about the moon. The author was in love with moonrise and she just couldn’t shut up.

I just couldn’t continue.

Another funny thing is the F word. It has the effect of making words and even thoughts disappear. Too many F words in a paragraph and your eyes glaze over and you come to the conclusion that there isn’t a cogent – or sane – thought in the entire paragraph.

Most people, however, who use the F word liberally think that it peppers their words, gives emphasis to their ideas, and makes people pay attention.

It does the exact opposite.

It’s like salting a good broth too much. It ruins it.

Once More Into the Breach, Y’all

Once More Into the Breach, Y’all

I’ve always maintained that I’m not a programmer, developer, or coder. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing in the back end of my website and prefer to NEVER go there. I don’t DO PhP and I don’t mess with CSS, either. (I was really proud of myself when I finally got HTML, but wouldn’t you know, I hardly deal with HTML.)

I use the Genesis framework for WordPress to run my website. Genesis makes everything easier for coders, developers, and programmers and is very security conscious. If you’re not a coder, developer, or programmer you’re pretty much lost. My website has stayed the same for years because, well, I’m pretty much lost. However, I just discovered that I could change from the Genesis framework and Genesis child themes and go to something a heck of a lot more user friendly.

Color me thrilled.

I finished the book on Christmas night, so it has been put away for awhile to percolate. I don’t touch it during this time. My mind, however, is still thinking about it so I will be making notes to make sure I said certain things, or that character issues are spelled out, that descriptions are adequate, that sort of thing. January 15th I will start the final read of the book on my Kindle. I’ve already had the computer read it to me, so that’s done.

All of that frees me up to screw up my website to my heart’s content.

So, if you see things that look weird or broken, don’t panic. That’s just me messing everything up and hopefully having a wonderful time doing it. 🙂

Are Writers Nuts?

Are Writers Nuts?

I was listening to the podcast of a well-known and popular author the other day. I respect him as an author and a public speaker. However, he managed to surprise me with a comment.

He said that all writers and actors are nuts. 

The reason? Well, in order to dig deep in their portrayal of characters, actors often re-visit old traumas. Instead of allowing these traumas to heal they use them, constantly peeling off the scab, refreshing the sadness, pain, or angst involved in a particular trauma. Writers, too, feed off of their own experiences of pain in order to convey them with authenticity.

His point was that we shouldn’t listen to actors when they tell us how to vote or think about cultural topics because these people are not psychologically healthy. In that same vein, neither are writers.

You’re probably going to be surprised when I say that I partially agree with him.

Of all the literary genres, romance is probably the healthiest one for writers. I’ve often wondered about horror writers. What must being terrorized/being a terror do to the human psyche? You see, I believe that a writer has to feel what he writes. He has to experience it. Otherwise, what you have is a surface kind of writing that never truly reaches you. You don’t feel a connection.

I don’t read “literary fiction” because I don’t want to be depressed. It’s my feeling that the author probably has had a significant experience in her life and replays it in words.

Do I revisit certain pain points in my own life? Yes. I can’t help but do so when something comes too close. For example, a certain scene in To Love a Duchess tore me up. Not because it was identical to something I experienced, but because it resurrected certain feelings. Anyone who’s ever read Tapestry will know that I replayed a lot of personal angst in that book.

Does that mean that I consider myself psychologically unhealthy? Nope. I’m pretty centered with my head screwed on straight. I write romance so I get to experience lots and lots of joyous emotions. In other words, all the good things that can happen to people. I am, however, cognizant of the dangers of writing and of going to those dark places all the time. Writing is sometimes painful and that isn’t a confession you’ll hear a lot when you visit writing forums. Writing pulls emotions from the depths of you.

A couple of years ago I had the idea for this really fascinating, creepy story. I couldn’t finish it because it scared me to death. Yes, I can scare myself. Maybe I was giving voice to something within me that should have remained buried and undisturbed. (And maybe that’s why I wonder about horror writers.) 🙂

What’s your opinion? As a reader, have you ever read something that made you certain the author had experienced a version of it? As a writer, do you wonder about how “deep” you get into emotions?

Technology Woes

Technology Woes

I had the most fun this past Thursday and Friday doing something odd on my computer.

As you know if you’ve read the blog for any length of time I dictate the first draft of every book. It helps me get the words out of my brain and onto the page. Plus it saves my wrists. I occasionally get carpal tunnel pain and I don’t want it to increase.

I’ve used Dragon NaturallySpeaking since it first came out. I’ve also used ViaVoice and every other speech to text program there is. I’ve always come back to Dragon because I think it’s the best. Right now, they are the only company that makes a speech to text program for Mac. 

Well, in late October they announced that they were no longer going to support Dragon for Mac. That means that they aren’t going to continue to generate new versions, either. I think, from what I’ve read, that the problem begins at Apple, not Nuance – who makes Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Something about Apple limiting developer access to certain functions on the Mac, etc.

I’ve always thought that Dragon for Mac was a poor substitute compared to Dragon for Windows. I absolutely adored Dragon for Windows because it was simple, easy to correct mistakes, and the voice recognition ability was superb. Dragon for Mac is like a wagon next to a Jaguar. It’s pretty much a pain. I’ve been thinking of getting a Windows laptop strictly to run Dragon for Windows, but then the other day I thought about installing Parallels again.

Parallels is a program that you put on Mac that allows you to run the Windows operating system. When I first used it years ago it was a disaster. I couldn’t get it to work. I don’t know what the problem was. Last year when I bought this iMac I went whole hog, if you’ll pardon the expression. I bought a super loaded machine. I have a 2 TB fusion hard drive and RAM out the wazoo. It has one of the best video and sound cards you can buy. In other words, it was probably overkill. However, if any machine can handle a virtual operating system, this one can.

I am thrilled to report that I installed Parallels, then Windows 10, then an antivirus software program, and then Dragon for Windows. Everything works. Everything works beautifully. Maybe it was the new, improved Mac operating system, Mojave. Maybe I just figured out how to install it correctly. Maybe it was just luck. I don’t care what it is – it works!

Anyway, pardon me for being technical, or pseudo-technical. I’m just happy I got everything to work. It was an absolute pleasure working on Friday and I just kept dictating and dictating. I’m dictating 6000 words a day and if I can find the software that makes it easier, I’m all for it.

Right now I’m bopping between the two operating systems because I can dictate directly into Scrivener from Dragon for Mac. However, I am ready for the next update to Mac’s operating system to cause problems with Dragon. That’s the way it normally happens.

Oh, if you’ve never used Dragon Anywhere I highly recommend it. It allows me to dictate on my phone and that really helps when I am in the backyard or having to wait in my car for some reason. Like all Dragon products it’s not cheap, but it’s really worth it. 

Have you ever used Parallels or Dragon for Mac or Windows? Are you a Windows person or a Mac person?