Forbidden

“You don’t have to decide now. Just think about it.”

When I didn’t respond, he turned from the window to face me. His eyebrow lifted.

“Well?” he said.

I walked over and stood beside him, admiring the view from his office window. For a minute, we both just stared out onto the city.

“I can’t, Jack,” I said, at length. “I know you and Kelly are getting a divorce, but it’s not final yet. It would still be adultery.”

He scoffed. “You and your damn morals. Don’t you ever get tired of the high ground?”

“Not yet. You used to have morals too, years ago. What happened?”

“Kelly took custody of those when we separated.”

I sighed. “Well, I miss them.”

He put his hands on my shoulders and turned me so that we stood face to face. His eyes were earnest. “Just tell me what you want from me. I’ll do it. What do I need to do to prove how much you mean to me? That you matter more than she does?”

“You can go back in time and choose me from the start…and not her.”

“I’m sorry. If I had known you had any feelings for me back then, I would have.”

“So you’ve said. But you can understand how I find that hard to believe, can’t you?”
I held up my hands to stop whatever he was about to say. “I have to go.” Then I turned and headed to the door.

“Linda,” he called when I reached for the knob.

I turned back to him. He was still looking out on the city.

“This isn’t over,” he said.

I walked out.

Do Free Book Giveaways Work?

I’m trying an experiment today. I had heard from some self-published authors that using Amazon’s free book giveaways (via KDP Select) is a good way to bring attention to yourself. I’m not sure if that’s true, so I’m  offering  the first part of my latest story for free today, as a test.

What do you guys think? Has this worked for anyone? I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Oh, by the way, here’s the link to that story… if anyone wants to check it out.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AUGCIHM

Forgiving and Forgetting

—- CJ

My View on Book Reviews

Screenshot from Amazon.com

Screenshot from Amazon.com

It happens all the time.

A person spends hours and hours laboring over a piece of writing. Sweating over word choice and placement, debating the right setting and bleeding over character development. Then, they somehow get through the long, equally tedious process of getting their work published. It goes on sale and all it right with the world. Until the reader reviews come in…

A lot of times these reviews go something like this: “This book was so boring.”, “I wish I could give this crap less than 1 star.”, “This guy ought to be shot for pushing this off on the unsuspecting public.”

This is the nature of art– any type of work that is conceived in the mind of an individual and expressed in some tangible way. Art is subjective, and no matter how good or bad it is, somebody’s gonna love it and somebody’s gonna hate it.

And I have no problem with that. Everyone should be allowed their own opinion. Where I have a problem, and this is more of a shaking-my-head type of thing than any real animosity, is the value so many book buyers place on the review/opinion of people they’ve never met and more than likely have very little in common with, including taste in books. Why would anyone trust a perfect stranger to tell them what a good book is.

It just seems to me that online reviews (and online forums) have been given so much undeserved credence that it has opened the door for all kinds of duplicity, such as reviews for pay.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?pagewanted=all

Some authors who feel that more (good) reviews equals more sales, do what they feel is necessary to increase their bottom line, even if that means paying for another person’s good opinion. That’s just good business, right?

Of course this eventually leads to more and more cries from so-called legit reviewers of “All of these 5-star reviews HAVE to be fake.” It’s the premise that if someone has the opposite opinion of yours, then their review must be invalid. When the truth is that sometimes the other reviewer just disagrees with you about the book. There are fake reviews out there, no question, but not all of them are. But the fact that SOME reviews are paid for means that more reviewers feel righteous in accusing authors with good reviews of being dishonest, if they themselves disliked the book.

And if you do rely on reviews to make your book buying decisions, how do you know which person’s reviews to trust? There are MANY books out there that are both lauded as “great literature” and dismissed as “utter drivel”. So which opinion do you believe?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But what’s wrong with finding a book, reading the description, reading the sample pages and then deciding whether or not you want to buy it? Why does anyone need the opinions of previous readers to make such a simple decision? Maybe, if more people decided for themselves, we could cut down on the often vicious “REVIEW WARS” that have been so common in the last year or two.

My Kindle Publishing Experience (so far)

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I published my first novella on Amazon in May 2012. It was a… unique experience for me. I had originally planned to write a book and try to get it published the traditional way. But once I found out about Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program, all thoughts of letting someone else publish for me flew out the window.

I have nothing against traditional publishers at all. In fact, I would love to have their marketing capabilities and contacts. But I have enjoyed having creative control from start to finish. For someone with my self-contained personality, it seems to work okay.

So far, I have not had a bestseller doing things this way, and I don’t know how long I will continue to do it. But I just want to share what I think about KDP in the few months that I’ve used them to publish.

First, it was cool that first time to see my book for sale on Amazon. Seeing the sales come in, getting my first good review, my first not-so-good review, getting my first royalties. It was all exciting… for a while. Then, it was maddening–especially when sales slowed.

I’ve learned the effects of good and bad reviews on sales. Then, I learned to ignore reviews. Some people will like what you write, some people won’t. But at the end of the day, you have to be happy with what you put out there. Otherwise, writing is just another chore. And if I wanted that, I could go back to my old job. It paid a lot more.

I’ve learned what image I wanted to put out there. I found that I am low-key in terms of things like cover art and sex scenes. It’s why my covers so far don’t feature couples in some torrid embrace. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me. And if I’d gone the traditional route, I wouldn’t have much say so on this point.

I don’t write explicit sex scenes very well, so I mostly leave them out of my work. But I have learned that like with most things, sex sells.

Lastly, I’ve learned that I don’t care for giving away my work for free. I’ve tried this for the first time, recently, and I didn’t like it. It just takes me too long to write for me to feel comfortable with it.

Of course, I could say more about my experience, but I think this is a good place to stop. I’ve enjoyed publishing so far. And I don’t think I would have learned any of these things if it hadn’t been the ability to put out several pieces of work in a short period. I recommend Kindle to anyone. Even if you’re only testing the waters before you go the traditional route.

— CJ

Doomsday Discovery

Today I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I sat and focused on writing for a full hour without getting distracted. The TV was on, someone else was in the room, and I was sitting in an uncomfortable position on the bed. Despite all that, I managed to write just over 800 words. That might not sound like much, but for a person who has had many, many distractions lately, it was like writing War and Peace.

What helped me stay focused was the discovery of brown noise on simplynoise.com. It effectively blocked out all other sounds without distracting me itself. I’ll keep using it for a while before I make a final decision on whether or not it will become a staple tool for me, but so far so good.

simplynoise

Simplynoise.com

And so much for the world ending today. –12/21/12

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Video: The Myths of the Overworked Creative

Hey, people!

I just wanted to share this video from  99u.com for those of you who might not have seen it. It’s titled  Tony Schwartz: The Myths of the Overworked Creative.

Mr. Schwartz makes some interesting points. The parts about the necessity of sleep seem right on target for me, as I’ve recently realized how sleep deprived I’ve been over the last few years and how it’s affected my ability to stay focused.

Anyway, check out the video below or click the link to the website for more info.

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Assassin (Challenge: A Story in 300 Words or Less)

Rasheed had gotten the word before dawn that morning. Do the job and we won’t kill your son. They hadn’t said what would happen if he refused. They hadn’t needed to.

He got off the bus behind a small, old woman with a large purse. He took her arm to help her down the last two steps and she rewarded him with a smile. He was in no mood to return it. So he nodded and started down the sidewalk at a brisk pace. He didn’t hurry, but he didn’t drag his feet either.

It took him three minutes and forty-seven seconds to get to the park. He saw his target sitting on the bench reading the paper, as was his habit. He walked up behind the man and stood.

He knew the second his target became aware of his presence, the slight jerk of the shoulders that would have been undetectable to anyone else.

The man swung around while reaching for his gun, but Rasheed’s was already aimed at him.

The man dropped his hand. “They sent you?”

Rasheed nodded. “Sorry.” He pointed the gun. He waited, holding it out, until the man looked at it. He saw the brief light of recognition in his eyes. It was the gun the man had used to teach Rasheed to shoot.

The man sighed and aged about twenty years in those two seconds.

“I love you, Dad,” Rasheed said and his hand shook. “But I can’t let them make him what they made us.” He pulled the trigger.

As the man went down and screams erupted all around him, he walked out of the park at the same brisk pace.

He pulled out the throwaway cell phone and dialed. When the line was answered, he said, “Job’s done,” and hung up.

——–

Copyright © 2012, Chellby Jaye.
 All rights reserved.
 

“Ten rules for writing fiction”

I saw this article on the Guardian (UK) site. Thought I’d share. It’s… interesting to see the rules these authors have for themselves.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/10-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-two

 

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Was It A Dream?

I’m not much of a poet, so bear that in mind. I woke from a strange dream with first few lines of this running through my head.

Anyway, I thought I’d share. I mean, why should I be the only one subjected to the odd clichés and lack of rhyme? So, if you want to, you can let me know what you think. I think I can take it.

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Was It A Dream?

I dreamed in languages I’ve never heard

Words I couldn’t recall when the dream was done.

I dreamed in colors I couldn’t describe

Couldn’t name, couldn’t define

I dreamed of songs I know I’ve never sung

Though they were as familiar to me as my own thoughts

I dreamed of people I’ve never met

They embraced me with more love than is shown a beloved sister

I dreamed a dream last night

And I hope to dream it again someday.

“May I have your attention, please?”

Online Writing Journal, Entry# 001

 I was re-reading an essay the other day by editor Dave King called The Fifty-Page Dash. In essence, the essay talked about the importance of grabbing the readers’ attention right away (he gives some examples) and getting your real story started as early as possible.

 Of course, it made me go back to the beginning of the piece I’ve been revising. (Sigh) And I ended up scrapping about one-third of the first chapter. And since I’m at it, I am now going through the entire work again, looking for spots where the story might get bogged down.

 So far, it seems the best way to keep the story interesting is to add minor conflicts that enhance, but don’t distract from, the larger conflict of the story. For example, maybe the two bomb squad members sent to disarm the explosive device hate each other’s guts. Or the woman who knows there’s a killer coming for her can’t convince her husband of it because she’s only dreamed about being killed (no tangible proof).

 With this in mind, I’m going back to my editing. And this is ABSOLUTLELY the last revision—I hope.