Friday, July 27, 2012

We are the Forerunners

My favorite weekly German news magazine "Der Spiegel" surprised me last week with an article about eBooks and becoming your own publisher;a newsworthy topic that filled two pages. Germany seems to have cultivated its own answer to "Fifty Shades of Grey" with somebody called Jana Falkenberg and this lady is  quoted as the paradigm for e publishing. Writing under a pseudonym about her bedroom conquests in the style of a popular women's magazine, this "Jana Falkenberg" is most elusive; is not available for face time and her cell phone number is changed regularly to keep her identity a secret. Allegedly, she is in marketing otherwise.
Jana explains how she converted her book into an e data format on one afternoon after creating a cover page on the cheap with a designer friend. All she has to pay now is for the domain name (19.95 EUR a year). "Traditional publishing houses want to rip you off by paying only up to 20% royalties max," she said. "Now I can stick out my tongue at them!" The going rate for her eBooks is EUR 3.49 a piece.
Well, we all know how it works, we Indie authors and others.
One traditional publisher commented that the industry feels ripped off after investing a lot of money into e publishing. In all fairness, his main investment was inot an online dating site if affiliated with another reputable newspaper.
Other traditionals like the owner of dotbooks who only went online last week predicts that paperbacks will be extinct in two or three years. "The times of begging traditional publication houses to take your book are over!"
The way to becoming a publisher is also described in that article.
The magazine claims that there is a movement by authors away from traditional publishing and going your own.
If I had the choice between self-publishing and a reputable publishing house, I know who would win hands down.
Germans are still very tentative when it comes to reading eBooks. Most people I talked to had never held a Kindle in their hands and proclaimed they still preferred a paper book.
Why was I surprised? Germany is leading in many areas of technology be that alternative, renewable power, cars, or high speed trains. Yet a little thing like a Kindle (and its brothers and sisters) hasn't been embraced yet. Hence our fellow scribblers or after hours writers as they were called by the Spiegel, are lagging behind us the experienced, e - plus self -published authors, Twitter and Facebook savvy and all!
Siggy Buckley
Siggys Omnibus:  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A series of experiments in publishing

For July, I am conducting a number of small experiments in publishing. The first experiment involves Twitter. Over the course of the last few months I was tweeting about two or three product links per day in addition to links about writing, publishing, the industry, and other related materials. For the month of July I have not been tweeting product links to my books. Most tweets were for Amazon Kindle books. Amazon is the biggie, and we all want to do well there. But it might be wise to stop chasing that best-seller dream and focus on building a core readership. If one thousand loyal fans bought one $2.99 book per year, that would be $20,000 in revenue. It really is just that simple.


I still crack the odd joke and tweet items of interest to my followers, and cross-post on a number of other platforms. With multiple accounts and some duplication, I probably only have three or four thousand unique followers, with friends and followers on all platforms adding up to less than 10,000 overall; e.g. on Facebook I have 1,492 friends.

The rationale is simple. Various sources have suggested that over-promotion is self-defeating and an audience becomes saturated over time. Often the solution is to continually build an audience. But the reach isn’t the only measure. Often there is no measurement of ‘quality’ in terms of an individual audience member. It’s also disproportionate, in that it might take a hundred new followers to generate ten real, qualified page views, and a hundred ‘good’ page views to sell one book. At this rate, it’s not a good idea to start buying followers. We might only make two bucks a book. Name recognition doesn’t take very long, not in any size of audience. That’s taken care of with a few repetitions.

Measuring results.

The way to measure the results of the experiment is very simple: compare July sales to months when we did tweet.

My second experiment involves Smashwords’ July month-long sale. All of my full-length novels are marked down 25 %, but I’m not tweeting or doing any other promotion except blog posts such as this one in particular. Page views are not high on SW for my titles, although I have given away about thirty copies of ‘Core Values,’ which is free on all my sales platforms right now, and it will be for some time to come.

So we’ll see just how we do without promoting a sale on Smashwords.

A third experiment involves the notion that we simply have to write more and publish more and this alone sort of promotes us effectively. I’m not denying it, and I’m not confirming it. What I am doing is trying to see if it works in my own case. That’s because each and every author has a different personality, and a different audience or readership, and a different set of goals both financial and artistic for the work.

Publishing shorts on an experimental basis.

For this experiment, we take stories out of our folder, polish them up, get a free, copyright-free, royalty-free marketing image, an ISBN number, which are free here in Canada, and take some time to make an eye-catching ‘cover’ for it. Then we publish on Lulu, Amazon, Smashwords, and through Smashwords it will ultimately go into all the other distribution channels such as iTunes, B & N, Kobo, Diesel, etc. I’ll worry about Google books another time.

The rationale for this experiment is simple. I see other people, virtually all of whom are using pen-names of one sort or another, and they’re publishing all sorts of shorts on different sales platforms. Yes, Lawrence Block does it too, and everyone knows him. But I cannot and should not compare myself to Lawrence Block for just that reason.

Here is my new short story, 'The Jesus Christ Show,' available from
Amazon, Lulu and Smashwords.

Why are we making the experiment?

I would like to know what sort of results unknown (or unidentified) authors are getting. I will publish two or three short stories in the next few weeks. This leads to another experiment: publish on Amazon or any platform at an appropriate time of day.


Basically, I plan on getting up on Friday morning and publishing a story. On Amazon, it takes about twelve hours to go live. Obviously you need to have everything all ready to go, including pic and blurb and relevant metadata. By anticipating this delay, I might get a story to pop up in horror, or science-fiction, (or whatever category,) during prime time Friday night. It will be interesting to see if this has any effect on the short story in question. Also, will this have any effect on overall sales, surely the only ones that matter to someone with a number of titles?

Shalako Publishing was conceived in February, 2010. It has involved a learning curve from day one, and that learning curve is continuous. You can’t learn anything if there is nothing there to be learned. So what do we do in an absence of facts?

We experiment, and find out for ourselves. And that way, we don’t have take anyone’s word for anything, besides, what might be a good answer for them, might not be such a good answer for us.

We are all different, and so are our needs, our gifts and our aspirations for our work. If you were wondering about the photo above, it relates to active blogging, and it shows our results. Clearly, on this one issue, we are doing something right. Can it be done better? When I come up with a idea, I will try to do just that.

Louis Bertrand Shalako

Comments are always welcome.
For more informative articles on writing and publishing, please visit my blog here:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ingrained Behaviour - 21 December 2000 - 5.25PM

I’m late as I walk downstairs to the hotel lobby. It took me longer to get ready than I anticipated. I’m a regular latecomer. All the time now. I never used to be. I was famously punctual before heroin. Not that I’ve had a sneaky fix today. Of course, I haven’t. I haven’t seen Lorna yet. Heroin has somehow changed who I am.

I study the lobby. Lorna’s not here. I check the sofas around the corner. She’s not there either. I look outside the hotel. She’s nowhere to be seen. By the clock in reception, it’s nearly five-thirty. I’m more than slightly late. But if she was here earlier, then surely she would have come to my room. She knows the number. It was only last night she spent the night.

I walk outside. The air isn’t much cooler than it was earlier in the day. That’s Australia in December. I light a cigarette. I have to do something. I could do with a drink as well. Perhaps I’ll go to the bar. No, I'd better wait. If I want a hit, I have to wait. I don’t know anyone else who can get smack over here. Mickey looked like he would know, but Mickey never came back for me.

Suddenly, hands are covering my eyes. “Guess who,” a male voice says.

Who the hell is it? I rip the hands from my face and turn around. “Hello love! What are you doing here?”

“I’m here on business.” Greg straightens the collar of his white shirt. “Are you?”

“No. I’m purely here for pleasure.” I share a smile.

“I’ll buy you drink. Come to the bar.”

“I’ll have to decline. I’m meeting a friend now. Another time though. How long are you here for?”

“I’m flying back on the twenty-third. I wanted to see in the New Year here but the battle-axe wouldn’t permit it.”

“You are naughty.” I give him a wink. “Do you want to see me properly? I’ll be free tomorrow night.”

“Eight o’clock, meet here. Dinner, dancing, then some rampant lovemaking. How does that sound, sexy?” Greg turns on the spot. He’s a wanker, but he pays well.

“Sounds perfect. I’m looking forward to it.” I have to do it. I don’t need the money. I have enough money to last for years, but I have to work when I can. I can’t not. I’m not capable.

Greg dances his way up the street. I am good. He knows it. But what he doesn’t know is why. I am good because I see through him, through all of them. I know what they want to hear and I say it. I know what they want me to do so I do it. I know what they don’t want said and I never utter a word. I know what they don't want done so I don’t venture anywhere near it. No surprises how I picked up that skill and learnt the behaviour. Another present from my past.

Lorna is walking towards me. I've decided that together we must look like a pair of defectives Barbie dolls. The blonde hair is there but it’s lank. We have the blue eyes but they’re empty. We both have blemishes covering our faces. I have abscess scars on my arms. She has track marks on hers. The only thing that’s right is our height, our slim figures and our large breasts.

Lorna kisses my lips. “Sorry I’m late.”

“I was late too, but you’re something else.” I grin. She’s cute.

“How much do you want?”

“Same as last night, please.”

“We’ll need to go to Parramatta. My man in Kings Cross isn’t holding.” She takes my hand and walks me down the street.

“How do we get there?” I ask.

She waves a set of keys. “I’m driving.”

She wraps her arm around my waist and gives me squeeze. I foresee a repeat of last night.
Ruth Jacobs              

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stepping outside of my comfort zone or How to become one Tough Mudder.

Last weekend my son and nephews entered in the Tough Mudder race in Southern Calif. For those of you who do not know what a Tough Mudder race is; allow me to explain.
It is an obstacle course – not unlike those Navy Seals use for training. You jump into vats of ice water, then hoist yourself over walls, army crawl through mud, while being zapped by electrified wires (NOT KIDDING). Some people actually run it as a race, some walk it. They are held throughout the country (Google it), but this one was at a snow resort, so I’m guessing fewer people were actually racing up Black Diamond mountains. The entire race took my son with his team of six, approximately five hours to complete.
Through poor planning on the part of the organizers, they ran out of bananas, parking meant taking a shuttle to the ski resort and then after the long tedious race, when all you want to do is lie down and sleep, they had a 2½ hour wait to get onto a shuttle to return to their car. Since the sun was setting and they were wet and mud-covered, they were handed space blankets to keep warm.
It sounds to me that this is not really a race as much as an endurance test. No one in their party attempted to be the first to cross the finish line, They just wanted to be able to have the opportunity to say they survived the Tough Mudder from start to finish.
Now, I am proud they did it and happier still that no one was injured. But, I pondered why anyone would push themselves to the limit.
Why must people climb the tallest mountains wearing oxygen masks? Why must someone swim across vast expanses of water (even shark-infested), if they haven’t fallen overboard? Why do people push their bodies to extremes?
Trust me: I don’t get it. There was a period of two years when I was working out with a personal trainer. I felt it was my duty to keep my multiple sclerosis in check, by being at my fittest. I worked with an excellent trainer who was well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I did get stronger and I did lose weight. But, after my workout I went home and collapsed. Then I was in pain for the next two days. "But it’s a good pain" – that’s my husband talking. I gave him looks of daggers, because to me PAIN IS PAIN. Then I would return to the gym and begin the same routine all over again. Workout, collapse, limp around in pain for two days.
Well, I finally got it! If my MS was going to create pain anyway, I didn’t need to cultivate it in a gym. So, I stopped going. Lo and behold, I have been pain-free since. Not of course, free of my MS pain, which I will always have. But free of that good kind of pain that kept me grimacing for days on end.
I strongly advise most of you NOT to listen and follow my newly-acquired way of thinking. Exercise is good for people with MS. Just not this person. And that becomes my choice. I choose not to push myself to my limits. I prefer to stay within my comfort zone.
Now I may not be one Tough Mudder (as it were), but I am pushing myself outside my comfort zone in a different way. Not with my body - oh no, I’ve learned my lesson - but with my mind. My creative mind.
With my first novel, “Once in Every Generation” I was well within my comfort zone. Even though it was fiction, it was semi-autobiographical. I knew what it was like to step into the spotlight and I knew what it was like to get diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I also wrote within the genre of which I read. I like books about interpersonal relationships.
Here’s where I am leaping (giant leaps) outside my zone of comfort: the novel I am working on now with great intensity and excitement is a combination of contemporary and historical fiction. Though based on the life of a real person, it combines real life characters with fictionalized events. The research has been extremely inspiring for me.
You will read about a true person who survived the Holocaust, only to have to relive it in her elder years. There is mystery, drama, humor, and even a chase scene throughout the backstreets of London.
Totally outside my comfort zone! And as I type I can feel the adrenaline pumping. I look forward to sitting down at the keyboard and writing. This has become my Everest, my pushing the limits, my Tough Mudder race (without the mud). And I can finally understand why people push themselves outside of their comfort zones. I finally get it! Yes, I am one Tough Mudder, after all.
Lauren B. Grossman

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

WriteHook Gets His Ass Kicked

There are none so arrogant as they who are charged with pointing out your mistakes. So when a guy like me, who edits other people's novels, stories, and essays, writes a book, it's hard for said guy to believe he'll do anything wrong.
But this is why editors have a saying: Even editors need editors.                 
Karen Miller, my friend and the publisher of my Character Development from the Inside Out, is my editor. She was forCharacter Development and she is for my soon-to-be-released How I Make A Living In Writing. And, as I feared, she has put her boot right up my ass.
See, a good editor will call you on your bullshit and make you rethink your words. A good editor will demand that you give concrete examples and ideas when you bring up new points for discussion. A good editor will see that you can do better and then tell you how to go about it.
Fundamentally, my book is sound. The first draft was just thin (kinda like me in real life). But since Karen is a good editor (damn it!) she noticed the thinness and called me out on it (double damn it!). I'm editing according to her guidelines as we speak, and my book will be the richer for it. After all, a book on how I make a living as a writing professional will only have value to you if you know some details that you can apply to your own career.
I bring you this tale of editing woe as a reminder that all writers need editors, and to fill you in on the flipside. I am Karen's editor. And I returned her boot-to-the-backside when I read through her latest book. Because even editors need editors. And because I know where and how she can do better.
The moral of this story? You need an editor. And the more important your book is to you, the more you need someone who will be unafraid to wind up his boot and plant it in ye olde tush.
You don't need to hire me as your editor. But you deserve a good one. Because remember ‒‒ it's your name on your work. And the more care you put into it, the more you listen to what a professional is saying, the more you realize that editors are not here to tear you a new one (we're here to improve your work), the better work you'll put out there for the world to see.
Now get back to work before I have Karen lace up and ring your doorbell. But please visit her
Write for the jugular, folks.
Scott Morgan,
Speaker, Author, Editor, Proofreader, Creative Writing Developer

Write for the Jugular!
Author of Character Development from the Inside Out and Short Stack

Monday, July 16, 2012

Today I was faced with a real dilemma. A post showed up on facebook today telling us we should “Annoy the Pope and read our book.” Our book has werewolves, zombies and dragons in it. A couple of people have told us they won’t read it due to having un natural beings in it. They weren’t God made. I was told I should use that to my advantage. But at what price am I using it to my advantage by poking fun at Christians or more importantly God? This isn’t about whether you do or don’t believe in God, it’s about what I believe and what I feel is right. Maybe its because I am from the mid-west. Maybe it’s because I have been made fun of due to being from a single parent growing up in the 70’s in a small town. If I went to church I was made to feel different by others. I never wanted to do that to others.

A good friend told me I don’t have to jump on every band wagon that is a selling idea or marketing idea. I won’t hurt anyone or use anyone or cheat anyone. I guess I am what some might call an honest salesperson? Some would call a really bad salesperson. But I have to go with what I feel is right, whether it’s popular or not. I don’t claim to be self-righteous or a bible thumper, but then again, like Kim (n.b.: founder of Masterkoda on FB--S.Buckley))said, if it doesn’t feel right in your gut or heart. You don’t have to do it just to make a sale! Thumbing your nose at “the Man” or thumbing your nose at people in general, I have no problem with thumbing my nose at people in general but I do where religion is involved. Like the old saying goes, don’t discuss politics, religion or,, can’t remember the last one. I guess what I am trying to say, if I don’t think its the right thing to do as far as marketing goes, then I will not be doing it. Is there a possibility that I could miss the boat on potential hundreds of sales? Yeah, but at what cost?

My son and I made promises to each other when we began this journey back in 2009. He promised we would get it written and I promised we would get it published and get it out there. I had no idea how to do either at the time. I have worked continually since then on getting it published and now marketing it. But today when I came across that post, it made me think. “Am I doing the right thing?” Do I have what it takes to market no matter what?” I had to face the truth of, no. I don’t have what it takes to market no matter what. But I can market in ways that won’t leave me feeling bad or like I took advantage or hurt someone else in the process too. I am sure there are marketing guru’s everywhere laughing at people like me right now because I am not like a shark in chummed waters going for that sale. But I have to look at myself at the end of the day and I have to look at my son at the end of the day. Will he be proud of who I am and who we present ourselves to be? To sum it all up in this rambling of a post, Will I be the next Donald Trump or the next Mark Zuckerburg? I seriously doubt it. But will I be able to be proud of who we are and what we represent in a time and age of instant gratification and the all mighty dollar? The answer is, “Yes.” Does this mean we could potentially be sacrificing sales? Again, probably yes. But I am keeping the promise to my son and leaving a legacy for him to follow. One he can be proud of.
Wendy Siefken
Charles Siefken

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I grew up in the Waldo Canyon - Colorado Springs area

where some of the largest mountain fires are currently
are occurring.   The severe drought in the deep southwest
deeply affects me even though I no longer live there. 
Drought! by R Childress

Morning again, parched dry as death
Its frail glow waiting for another day
Adrift in the sifting dusts of drought
Scorched wisps of clouds
Fade in the heat smothered sun
Choking the last hope of rain
Wrapping my bones in a brown paper shroud

I want to rage against the outrage
Beat my fist against it
Twist free of this fire I cannot run from
Gather reason, protest, organize, negotiate
Go door to door and stir my complacent neighbors
Alert them to this relentless, unreasoning assault
On all that is my green mother world
Stop the burning away of life that leaves me orphaned
Bereft of all that made me, protected me, sustained me
All that I am

But I know in each moment beforehand
That they’ll just look right through me and say
Oh yes, it is so terribly hot
N’ it just won’t let up
We need rain bad
Then they’ll go on their way in silence
Knowing, like me, it’s already too late

C  7/9/12   Sandy Hartman

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Heimat" - Home

I left Germany, my home country for Ireland, not exactly out of my own volition. For years, it was considered our permanent home. Eventually, I had the courage to lift what was virtually a life-sentence and  set myself free.
I have been feeling uprooted since our emigration. Even now from my American viewpoint, I still regard it as my home country. The following was written after my stint in Ireland. It's no surprise that these thoughts resurface now that I am back "home".

"What is home anyway, I pondered.  This concept, grounded for me in the German word, Heimat, cannot be translated into one English word.  Is it the place where you were born, where your cradle was, where you grew up, went to school, etc., or where you settled as an adult and had a family? Home is where your heart is, I hear people say.  Wherever it may be, it gives you a sense of belonging.  But what if you don’t have a home anymore in the broader sense of Heimat? By that, I don’t mean just a roof over your head and your family.  I mean from the stand point of refugees who have to leave their country for whatever reason and settle in elsewhere.  And reluctant expatriates like me.
I never really felt at home in Ireland during my married years, even though we eventually turned the farmhouse into a nice homestead.  I first lost my sense of belonging after leaving my geographical and cultural roots.  I lost more of it leaving my married life.
For three years I saw myself developing new roots with an Irishman and his family in Ireland, and I started to like the country.  I was again displaced when he gave me the boot.  First, to be with the man you love in a country you don’t like.  Then start to like the country by loving a man who turns out to be not your man or your love after all.
Since then, I have felt exiled more than ever.  It was not Germany that I missed.  Whenever I went back to my native country during those years, I had felt like a stranger there, too.  We had left in 1990 just when reunification came about.  That new political landscape caused overall changes in society in my view, more than other people seemed to notice.  Or maybe visiting once or twice a year made me a keener observer and more aware.
I didn’t even feel particularly German.  True, we spoke German at home, and I had put great emphasis on keeping up the language with the kids otherwise immersed outside our house in a sea of English speaking neighbors, friends, influences at school, on TV, etc.
My friends, not just the Irish ones, but also American lady friends, were forever telling me that I was so bloody German, because I am a meticulous person and worry over things which seem trivial to them: like being on time.  These are cultural hand-me-downs I can’t deny and find difficult to shake off.  My father brought me up that way, to do things right, or not bother at all.  He taught me that a train in Germany leaves at 8 o’clock when the timetable says so and not 8.03, and certainly not just because I’m not on the platform yet.
The way my friends pointed it out to me had often felt like a finger jabbed into an open wound – to be so stereotyped when you feel the same as everyone else about the Nazis.  “You are so effing German, you can’t fecking relax.” Or was that wrong, was it rather my own nature, being a perfectionist, which didn’t let me blend in? This being perceived as semi-robotic often hurt me over the years.
In contrast to Irish, English, or American people, I have no great sense of patriotism.  As a post-war German, you are not brought up to be proud of your nationality and country or its achievements, even though they exist.  As a German, even 60 years after the war, you still tread carefully when mentioning your nationality, depending on what country you’re in.  You know people have a reason to hold bad associations that you really can’t fault.
It’s not surprising to you when your kids are called Nazis or Hitler in school, starting very early.  This happened while we were still living down the country.  At the same time, some Irish people bestowed their admiration on us Germans, some venting nonsense like, “Germany is a great country, because the Kaiser sent us weapons to fight against the Brits.” Even generations and decades after the First World War.
The Brits still made me uncomfortable when they talked about the Blitz.  A lot of Dutch still hate us for having invaded and occupied their country.  And the Americans still have memories of their patriotic liberation of Europe from the Krauts or Huns (that’s us they think).  The Irish are extremely proud of their Irish identity; Americans love this great country of theirs; and the Brits – just like the Americans – have a tremendous sense of national pride in spite of some unsavory moments in their own history.  But let’s not go there.
For many years now, I have felt more like a citizen of the world without pin-pointing my nationality.  Often when abroad and asked where I was from, I just said Ireland.
And this is probably why my quest for a new partner included the search for a new sense of belonging.  My flexibility on the location indicated that the bond between that other person and me would carry more weight than latitude or locality."

And yet, do you pine more for your lost Heimat when you get older? I'm starting to wonder.  Or is it actually youth one longs for when wanting to go back to a place in one’s past that felt like home?

Siggy Buckley
Excerpt from "Next Time Lucky: Lessons of a Matchmaker"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The China -- Jewish Connection

Back in 1988 when I lived in Israel and was thinking of going to China, I looked up an organization in Israel that had a name that sounded like it would have Chinese people in it.  To my surprise, the organization was made up of Jews in Israel who had lived in Shanghai, China, during World War II.  China had been the ONLY country that offered open sanctuary to the Jews escaping Hitler's rampages without any passport or visa requirements.  America didn't; Britain didn't; nowhere but China did.

I just had the chance to view a  documentary called "Shanghai Ghetto."  It detailed what the lives of those Jews were like thrown into a very different culture and place.  There was poverty, there was disease, there were harsh living conditions, but it turned out to be a paradise compared to life (mostly death) for those who stayed behind.  And the Jews interviewed in the film gave due credit to the local Chinese who had so little themselves, but accepted them as fellow humans and neighbors.  The Jews created newspapers and cultural events, Jewish and Chinese children played together, and vendors bought and sold to each other.

What was totally missing between Chinese and Jews, and still is, was anti-semitism.  I personally know a Russian Jewish woman who was born and raised for 8 years in Harbin, China, in the 1940s.  She clearly remembers the kindness of the Chinese who shared what little they could and never made life harder for the Jews.  They all shared those bad war years together.  It was quite remarkable.

When asked where I was from the first time I was in Israel, I said I lived in Israel.  I found it intriguing that every student studying English I said that to used the exact same adjective to describe Jews -- "clever."  As I continued to return to China over the next 24 years, I became very aware of Chinese respect and admiration for Jews.  I got to know a Chinese professor named Xu Xin who had been a graduate student in the U.S. living with a Jewish family.  That experience led him to a lifetime interest in translating Israeli authors into Chinese, being invited to visit Israel, researching and writing a beautiful book about the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng, and finally establishing a Department of Judaica Studies at Nanjing University.

When I taught briefly at Nanjing University,  I gave a lecture to the students comparing the cultures of Jews and Chinese.  Both are enduring cultures that date back to almost the same time in history.  Education, achievement, and hard work have always been highly respected in both cultures.  There are differences, but some very basic similarities.

The last years have shown a steady increase in relations between Israel and China.  They share astute business minds and work together in joint ventures.  Chabad, a Jewish organization, is in China, as are more and more Israelis who once again are finding a comfortable niche living in Chinese society.  Ancient cultures, they both have long memories.  Thankfully, the memories between China and Jews are ones of mutual admiration, appreciation, and gratitude -- with years ahead that promise more of the same.

Suellen Zima           

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Old Church Ghosts

About nine moths ago I wrote the ghost story "The old church ghosts," it is based around a church in Clevedon, Avon. I lived there for over 25 years, so I know the area very well. When I finished this story I said to three close friends "I don't like it, it will be just my luck if it turned into a best seller." How prophetic, it may not be a best seller as in sales but it certainly is one of the most popular I have written. I think my dislike stems from apart from it not feeling right, I felt I had let my friends down as it is just over 1,000 words long, whereas the first two I did came in at over 7,000 each.

On the other side of the coin is my Chronicles series that has just come out, this set of what was going to be four books is close to my heart as I am an ex-photographer. Sadly, my liking for this series appears to have given it the kiss of death as there has been no interest in sales, despite a great on line following. Even one friend who said she would get it, has not bought a copy. Apart from doing well because I like the stories, I wanted it do something to show my appreciation to my editor Carol Wills and my friends Angela Priest who did the cover and colour inserts.

Alan Place

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hair on the Walls

          Hair on the Walls
Jesus, where were you yesterday?
Where were you during the Holocaust?
I’m playing your character at Christmas.
You know, your birthday?
The day where everybody wants rather than needs
Are you Spanish?  I’m so confused.
Because I know a few Jesus’s from Mexico.
Hair on the walls….
An instantaneous discharge,
Purple cloth on the cross,
Blood in my eyes….Represents freedom
Jesus, did you forget to set the alarm?
Are you a deist?
Why does everybody believe King James?
Is it because you’re a monarch to?
I’ve been to church before.
And everybody accepts this version as fact.
Yet they despise Charles Darwin for being an individual.
It’s hypocritical.  They’re both theories.  So chill out!
Hair on the walls….
Represents frustration, an instantaneous discharge,
Purple cloth on the cross,
Blood in my eyes….Represents freedom
Jesus, I cried on my mom’s shoulder the other day.
It was nice, were you there?
Are you a pantheist?  I believe in prayer!
Jesus, what about Buddha, Mohammad, and Tom Cruise?
According to King James, they’ll all rot in hell!
That’s not fair!  I do care!
I swear to God I do care!
Hair on the walls….
An instantaneous discharge makes room for new friends.
If I ever had any old ones?
Purple cloth on the cross,
Blood in my eyes….Represents freedom
Jesus, it’s your time.
You know, magic, twirlified candy-canes, and one red nose.                                     
You know, overflowing stockings, beautiful colors outlined in white, good will, and peace?
Bullies are a bitch.
I wish real was real.
Business transactions are a bitch.
Hair on the walls….
An instantaneous discharge,
Purple cloth on the cross,
Blood in my eyes….Represents freedom
Jesus, my pictures lie.
Some people say that I’m like you.
And that’s true, to an extent.
Reflective glass reflects distorted images.
A broken heart creates a beautiful effigy.
Brain-dead, but my friends are here.
I looked inside you, and you, me.
Black and white, two polar opposites, it’s a shame.
Hair on the walls….
An instantaneous discharge,
Purple cloth on the cross,
Blood in my eyes….Represents freedom
Jesus, a poets mind, becomes kind with time.
T.D., C.B., and E.H., fuck their world, fuck a rhyme.
I wish there were more Hagrids’ in the world.
You know, real people with a warm soul?
I’m so pissed sometimes.  I mean, every now and then.
But mostly all the time.
In the shower, I see infant fossils.
I see hair on the walls….
An instantaneous discharge,
Purple cloth on the cross,
The blood in my eyes….Represents freedom
Robert Alexander Deason
© All Rights Reserved!/RADsPeace

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Writer's Journey

Once upon a time, not all that long ago really, this writer (me) knew nothing of writing and never even considered the possibility of publishing anything. I was doing good to come across a new book to read, which meant that I read what I had over and over. Oh sure, once in a great while I'd drag out some paper and write down a story, but that's all it was, and in truth it only happened a couple times and one of those got lost when we moved from one place on this river to another.

One day, sometime during the winter of 2000 I think, my son comes home with this rather new innovation, at least it certainly was for me. He brought me a little laptop computer. We had a computer upstairs (still do in fact), but it had been maxed out to 1G of memory and couldn't be upgraded any more. We got it to help the boys some with their school but mostly it was their toy. I never did much with it because it was upstairs and upstairs isn't just a stroll up a set of steps, it's a climb up a ladder and I really wasn't interested in playing with it all that much anyway. It is such a dinosaur compared to what I have today, or even compared to what my son brought home that day.

Well, now I had this 'toy' down here on the table. All it needed was plugged in and push a button and it turned on. The one upstairs needed at least one boot-up disk before it worked. Okay, so now that I had this thing, what does one do with a computer? Well, it had a keyboard. Did I remember any of my typing lessons from high school?

By coincidence, I had been writing a story on some notebook paper left over from when the kids went to school up river, so what better thing to experiment with. My son showed me how to open a document and I began to type. I discovered real quick that my new little toy knew more about grammar and spelling than I did. What a nifty trick that was. And adding or correcting something within a paragraph was pure joy. I think it took me flat minutes to fall in love with my new toy.

Over the next two years, I learned how to work my toy as I wrote my story, eventually giving up on the notebook step. I found the paint program and drew several pictures for my story, spending hours and sometimes even days modifying some of them to satisfy my picky nature.

To help me picture how long my story would be if it were a book, I picked up the last book I'd read and found a page full of text. I counted the lines and, following the rules for counting words from my typing class, I counted 'words' across one of the full lines. I took that information back to my story and adjusted the margins and font size until I got as close as possible. That also gave me a book size goal. The book I'd chosen was around 300 pages so that was my goal. I would consider my story a 'book' if it reached 300 or more pages. Imagine my pleasure when my story reached a little over 400 pages by the time I had reached an ending. I remind you that actual publishing was one of those alien concepts still.

The entire journey was such a delight, I simply had to start another, and then another, and then another. And oh my, look at me now. That first story is now a real book. The publisher chose a larger format which decreased my page count by nearly a hundred pages, but what did I know, and it was a minor matter, all things considered. They were, after all, supposedly the experts. Ah but that gets into a different journey and a different learning curve.

Many writers I've talked to since getting internet have been aimed at writing ever since they were little. How about you? How did you come to be a writer? Did it take you by surprise like it did me? Tell me all about it. I'd love to hear your story.

You can find me on Twitter at and you are most welcome to my corner of the world on Facebook at Hope to see you here or there sometime soon.

Anna L. Walls
PRINCE IN HIDING, book #1 of The Making of a Mage King series -
KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT - It's worth checking out.
My blog novel - THE FORTUNES OF MAGIC -
My blog - Anna's Obsession -
My website - Anna's Passion -
A window into my life - Anna of Alaska - - every day is an adventure.