Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scribd slashes romance titles

Scribd is losing money.  Romance fans are apparently voracious readers, and they are borrowing like Greek bankers.  Scribd has to pay out for every borrow, and the numbers aren't working out for them.  So they are eliminating a number of their romance titles.

Mark Coker of Smashwords blogs about it here.  He takes a guess at how much Scribd will cut, and it's pretty mind-boggling:

Effective immediately, I estimate 80-90 percent of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will be dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of our most popular romance titles.  Books priced at free are safe and will remain in their catalog.

Based on what I've been able to glean, the lower the price and the higher the word count, the better the odds the book will remain.  Few books priced $3.99 and above will remain.  Scribd is not publicly revealing the formulas for what stays and what goes, probably because much of this is still in flux. They're cutting all publishers and distributors with the same blunt knife.

If he's right, they're basically nuking the whole genre.

Now, this doesn't affect me, obviously, because I don't write romance.  I checked my Scribd links on the sidebar, and they still work.  (For now.  *fingers crossed*)  But it's still a seismic event in the self-publishing world.  And it definitely sucks for readers who will no longer have access to the stuff they want to read and for the writers who were supplying them with it.

Maybe Scribd will figure out a way to make their business model work.  I really hope they do.  The self-publishing world is better off with more retailers, not fewer, and I'd hate to see Scribd fail.

Updated some links

Barnes & Noble is in the midst of redesigning their site, and the links I had for my stuff there changed.  I've updated them, so they should work now.

I'll put the Oyster links up when I can.  D2D says my stuff is published is there, and provides me with links, but all I get is a blank page.  I went to the Oyster site directly, searched for Jeff Tanyard, and found my stuff, but the same thing happened.  When I click the links, I just get a white page.  I've sent an updated file for Mr. Wilson in to D2D anyway, so I won't worry about it for a few days.  Eventually, though, I'll need to see the product pages.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two common firearms mistakes in fiction

There are many "uncommon" mistakes, usually having to do with the details of some obscure weapon or other.  Those are somewhat forgivable, if still undesirable.

But the common mistakes aren't so forgivable because they occur in spite of some very basic knowledge.  There are two of these that seem to happen more frequently than anything else.  The first of these common mistakes is using "clip" instead of the proper "magazine."

This is a clip:

These are magazines:

A clip is what is used to load a magazine.  Easy rule of thumb: if the device has a spring, then it's a magazine.  If not, then it's a clip.

The second common mistake had to do with safeties.  I've read a number of books where the hero flicked the safety off his Glock. 

Glocks don't have manual safety levers.  Neither do revolvers.  There may be rare exceptions to this, of course--there's lots of variation among firearms, as well as custom builds--but they are rare.  If your hero flicks the safety off his Glock, or, heaven forbid, off his revolver, then some of your readers are going to roll their eyes.  They'll think you've never seen a gun other than on the silver screen, much less actually fired one.  And you don't want your readers rolling their eyes at your work. 

So instead of inserting a fresh clip in his Glock and then thumbing down the safety, have your character insert a fresh magazine and then release the slide.  Your readers will appreciate it.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


I've got 45000 words done on Venus, but the going has slowed.  The action is ramping up towards the climax, and I'm trying to get it right, and it's not easy.

I've started thinking through potential plots for Mercury and Mars, the other two books in the trilogy.  No outlines yet--only vague notions of what I want to happen.

I'm thinking about a third Buddy story, too.  That's way in the future, though, and whether I do it or not will depend on how Buddy: Evolution performs in the marketplace.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

D2D added Oyster

Draft2Digital has just added Oyster to its list of retailers.  I've already added Buddy and Mr. Wilson.  I don't know how long it will take for them to go live, but I'll mention it here when they do.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Progress Report

The first draft of Venus currently stands at a little over 37000 words.

Some of that will have to go, though.  I've been reconsidering how I want to set some stuff up.

Anyway, it's getting there.  Once the draft is done, I'll turn my attention to Buddy: Evolution and get it ready for publication.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Are they necessary?  Or are they a relic of a bygone era, a time when an author could ramble on without worrying about boring the reader because movies and television hadn't been invented yet and everyone was starved for entertainment?

Personally, I think they get in the way of my writing.  I prefer to write in scenes with asterisk breaks.  Of course, one might say that I'm essentially using chapters, I'm just not calling them chapters.  But I don't think so.  An asterisk break feels different from a chapter break.  *shrug*

I think there's definitely a disadvantage to using chapter breaks, and that's the fact that they are convenient stopping points for the reader.  With an asterisk break, the reader is just a little more likely to keep reading.  Always try to write a page-turner.

Wherever the truth lies, I think I'll try going writing without chapters for a while.  At least until someone complains.  ;)

1st vs. 3rd

I prefer to write in third-person.  I think it's more conventional and less casual.  In my opinion, it's the proper point of view for a "serious" work.

Unfortunately, I think I write better in first-person. The words just seem to come easier that way.

It's a dilemma.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Awesome news from Amazon

They're tweaking the payout method for Kindle Unlimited.  Passive Guy blogs about it here.  This is the important part:

Beginning July 1, 2015, we’ll switch from paying Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) royalties based on qualified borrows, to paying based on the number of pages read.

Before the change, a reader must have read 10% of a work in order for it to count as a borrow for purposes of paying the author.  It didn't matter how long the work was--a ten-page short story only needed to be opened to the first page, basically, in order to get the payout.  A 200-page novel needed to be read to page twenty to get the payout.  And the payout was the same amount of money either way.

Obviously, this encouraged authors to write a lot of shorter works instead of fewer novel-length works.  This "gaming the system" tactic worked better for some genres than others.  Erotica authors in particular were raking in the cash.

Starting next month, though, short-works authors will no longer have an advantage. 

I think this a long-needed change.  Studies have shown that readers prefer novels over short stories, and this will encourage authors to write more of them.  Authors win, and readers win.  I'll probably start Buddy: Evolution off in KU once I get it up.  We'll see how it does and go from there.

The big question, of course, is how many cents per page will the payout be.  Anything more than, say, three cents per page will be a gold mine for authors who write compelling books that most readers finish.

Progress Report

First draft of Venus is up to 27000 words.

Not the best week ever, but I'm not totally displeased.  I did a good bit of editing, and I rearranged some elements of the outline.  So I've been productive, but not in ways that are reflected in the word count.

Still thinking a lot about covers.  I've already got a trio of covers made, one for each book of the trilogy, but I'm not sure they're good enough.  I want to make several different ones and hope one stands out.  The problem is that I can't just put a generic space scene on the cover because the story takes place in our own solar system. 

Then again, maybe it's better for the cover to look cool than it is for it to be an accurate reflection of the story.  Maybe no one will care that it's titled Venus but sports a picture of the crab nebula (or whatever).

I'm also thinking I should do a third Buddy story simply because a trilogy would be better than a pair.  I have no idea what the plot would be.  Something to think about.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Had to back-track a little

The problem with attempting to write hard science fiction is that you really really need to get the details correct.  Because there are experts out there who you won't fool, and they'll rip you to shreds if you screw something up.

I haven't even got to that point yet.  I may ask some experts to beta read Venus at some point, but that point is still in the future.  Right now, I'm just trying to get the first draft down and have it make sense.

And in the meantime, I've redesigned the city and slightly altered some plot stuff.  Because the science says I have to.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Slow week so far

Venus is up to 22301 words.  Compared to last week's pace, I'm crawling.  Hopefully I can have a productive weekend.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

R.I.P., Dusty Rhodes

The famous wrestler has passed away.

When I was a boy, I used to watch wrestling with my Dad.  I don't remember much of it, since I stopped watching around the age of eight or nine, I suppose, but I remember a few things.  I definitely remember the old Tom Stimus commercials with Dusty Rhodes.  I always thought it odd that Tom pounded on the vans' hoods.  Seemed like a good way to dent them.

Here's another commercial with Tom and Dusty.

Later in his life, Dusty would do commercials for Sinclair Oconee Homes.  At least, that's what my memory tells me.  I can't seem to find one on the internet, though.

He was a colorful character and will be missed.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Progress Update

I've got nearly 17,000 words in for Venus.  Not bad for a week's work.  I'm writing at a NaNoWriMo-winning rate.  If I can keep up the pace, I'll probably finish the first draft before Independence Day.

I received Buddy: Evolution back from the beta reader.  I haven't looked at his comments yet.  I don't want any distractions until I finish the Venus draft.  Once I've done that, I'll revise Buddy: Evolution and publish it while Venus is being beta read.  Cool piece of time management, huh?  ;)

Hugh Howey mentioned on kboards that a screenplay for Wool is in the works.  Since I intend to publish some fan fiction one day, I'll need to keep this in the back of my mind.  I want my story to be up before any movie hits the silver screen.  For now, though, it's still on the backburner.

I'm starting to form an idea for an urban fantasy series.  Very preliminary at this point.  Haven't even started outlining it.  But that may be the next thing I tackle after the Terrestrial Planets trilogy and the Wool fan-fic.

I still need to outline Mercury and Mars.  I've already established the characters and their relationships, so hopefully it will go more quickly than the outline for Venus.  That one took forever.

Well, back to work...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making progress

After four days of writing the first draft of Venus, I've got about 7000 words.  Not spectacular, but a decent average.

It's strange how I can spend hours thinking and outlining the story, but some details simply don't take shape in my mind until I actually start writing the draft.  The setting for the first few scenes was always a little hazy to me, but now it has snapped into place.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Started a new draft

I've started writing Venus, the first book of a planned trilogy.  I'm not 100% sure of that as a title, but it's good enough for now.

Meanwhile, Buddy: Evolution is being beta read, so its progress is out of my hands at the moment.