It’s off to Missouri Writers Guild Conference 2014, St. Louis

I’ve been in a flurry of activity to get ready for this year’s Missouri Writers Guild conference in St. Louis, being held this weekend (April 11-13) at the Ramada Inn Downtown in St. Louis. Speakers will include Chuck Sambuchino, of Writers Digest fame, a full range of authors ranging from from the widely published to beginners, including speakers Mary Buckham and fellow architect Matthew Frederick and literary agents, including Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank, Gina Panettieri and Ken Sherman, for whom I will serve as Speaker Shepherd. I’ll be familiarizing him with St. Louis and conference events, which will offer wide range of workshops and master classes, and agents will take pitches. For details, please visit the Missouri Writers Guild website.

You can read my humorous take on writers conferences in general on a previous post on this blog at the following link. The Care and Feeding of Agents .

Ben's with the U. S. MarinesI’ve been working to get the second edition of my World War II biography, ready on Amazon.com. at Ben’s War with the U. S. Marines, a faithful account of the charming and hilarious World War II misadventures of Pfc. Ben Green–a low ranking but quick-witted individualist who battled the system in order to serve his country with honor, yet saved his neck to return home to his family,Ben’s War with the United States Marines is a faithful account of the charming and hilarious World War II misadventures of Pfc. Ben Green–a low ranking but quick-witted individualist who battled the system in order to serve his country with honor, yet saved his neck to return home to his family. This volume is richly illustrated with the sketches Ben sent home so his children could see what he was doing, and military and family photographs.

Buy Ben’s War with the U. S. Marines in the Trade Paperback or Kindle version at Amazon.com. I’ll give you a full report on the doings of the conference as soon as possible

Until next time, good words to you,

Peter

Peter

Peter


 

 

 

The e-book revolution – J. A. Konrath v. Donald Maass

By Peter H. Green

A pressing issue

Author photo

Peter H. Green

When Amazon introduced the Kindle reader in 2007, it signaled a transformation in the way people bought, received and consumed books, equaled only by Johannes Gutenberg’s first use of movable type in 1439. The e-book revolution has caused flattening sales growth in the print publishing industry, which has led to the  continued consolidation of legacy presses into the present the Big Five—Hachette, Macmillan/Bertelsmann, Harper Collins,  Simon & Schuster, and  Penguin/Random House. Also taking a share have been high quality independent presses, who will vet books themselves, without the intervention of literary agents, and self-publishers who take advantage of such new direct publishing outlets as Kindle Direct Publishing/ CreateSpace (Amazon), Smashwords, Ingram Spark and Book Baby to create print and e-books, largely for the online marketplace.

Class war?

Urban paranormal author J. A. (Joe) Konrath, who learned the business and first published the traditional way, and who now champions online self-publishing, has declared class war. It’s between those writers some literary agents call “the herd,”  and the gatekeepers, the agents and editors who hold the keys to the traditional publishing palace.  The authors, Konrath reasons, are producers of value in the book industry, and they should control it and reap its benefits. No longer should the gatekeepers who control the means of production, to use a classic Marxian phrase, be royalty who are the most richly rewarded. Point by point, Konrath refutes blog posts in which Donald Maass minimizes the importance of this new trend and predicts a sunny future for his legacy press, while dismissing authors as peasants and further subdividing them into three classes, who he says are unenlightened about how the publishing industry really works.  The First Class, says Maass, are the masters of their art, whose hardcover books sell in bookstores for 25 to 30 dollars and then reap a second life when they return as trade paperbacks priced at about 15 dollars. Next comes Coach Class, authors who write decent literary and commercial fiction, yet who suffer from stereotyped characters, mediocre plots and purple emotions. Third, the Freight Class, are the self-published authors, who to this agent are some sort of untouchables, for whom access to publishing is easy, editing is spotty and success is rare.

But who are royalty and who are the peasants?

Revolutionist Konrath argues that the peasants are really the mid-list authors, trapped in unfair long-term contracts in the traditional system, for whom agents and publishers do little or nothing in the way of sales promotion. He encourages them and all authors not yet entangled in this spider’s web to rise up and assert their independent publishing rights. He point out that since he has done this, earnings on his 40 books have topped a million dollars a year, far exceeding his all-time proceeds from traditional publishing. To Maass’s point that success is rare, he says, “Success is always rare,” but unless its author has a big following or a surefire hit, it is usually attributable to the intensive efforts of the author, not the publisher, and thus its rewards should accrue largely to the creator of the work. Even for the successful legacy author, royalties seldom exceed 12.5 percent of the books’ sales, which independent authors can increase many times over. He asserts that level-headed authors who self-publish e-books (without even resorting to print) can earn “actual money for the first time ever. Bill-paying money. A modest replacement income. Life changing money. Full-time writing money.”

Ergo

When I began a second career as a writer with a World War II biography, some 62 agents told me, in effect, “If you or your subject are not already famous, I can’t sell this.” But once I had placed it with an independent press, I was able to sell multiple print copies everywhere I went. This was over ten years ago, before the days of e-books. Recently I took it back from the publisher, who was doing nothing to promote my book. Unwilling to wait another two or three years to go through the agent-publisher vetting process with possibly the same result, and bolstered by the current self-publishing climate, I decided to create my own imprint, Greenskills Press, and published my World War II classic, retitled, Ben’s War with the U. S. Marines on Kindle, with e-book and print versions eventually to follow

So far I have no regrets.

Until next time, good words to you,

Peter

Peter

 

 

 


 

Source links for this post:

Write Pack Radio…

J. A. Konrath’s Blog

 

Coming of Age: Guiding by the Stars

By Peter H GreenKate Rigby-A Far Cry-Cvoer

Review: Kate Rigby, A Far Cry from the Turquoise Room, 97 Pages, Smashwords.

Elmore Leonard’s first rule of writing was, “Leave out the parts people skip.” In her novella, A Far Cry from the Turquoise Room, a tour de force of literary economy and lyricism, Kate Rigby captures the poignant story of a young girl’s coming of age. Leila, daughter of a proud Iranian tycoon who can have, and gets, everything he wants, lives with her family in a gated estate in a gated estate in Hayward’s Heath (Sussex),with lush, landscaped grounds, rich furnishings and many servants.

“I have two of everything,” boasts her father Hassan about his multiple makes of luxury automobiles, mansions and even his two daughters. A self-absorbed egotist in constant motion with international deal-making, he is fond of saying, “I was, I am, and I will be.” He nonetheless reveres his family and worships his elder daughter Fayruz, “my princess.” At the opening of the story, Hassan gives her a miniature birthday garden he has had created over many months on their expansive grounds for her amusement and delight.

Leila, the less beautiful, less favored younger daughter, at almost ten years old, can only observe in awe the spectacle Hassan makes over her older sister. While the younger can match him at chess, is a keen observer of the heavens and is beneficiary of their good life, she is unable to earn his love. Her mother Samira, aware of this situation, is powerless to correct it, due to her husband’s constant travel, ceaseless activity and his weakness, which perhaps she does not even suspect, for beautiful boys. Fortunately, or so it seems, they are friends with an artist and his wife, who with her two children have become a second family to fill in the life experiences and pleasures Hassan’s children, until one fateful day.

Leila whose passion is astronomy, looks to the stars for a lost loved one while her father, who believes in astrology, seeks to divine his fate from their alignment in the heavens. She takes action to escape the prison of her life, leaving her family further bereft.  When Hassan’s determination to have all he desires is blocked with a circumstance he cannot control, he must face his limitations. To understand his cruel lot he must learn, as Leila already has, in Shakespeare’s phrase, that the fault “lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.”

In addition to her precise selection of the scenes to portray, and a rapidly unfolding plot, Rigby has attuned her ear to the distinctive voices of her characters: dialects from many walks of British life, the voice of Leila, a sensitive child and the “unrepairable,” broken yet unrestrained English of Hassan.

This fast-moving read is worth a few brief hours to take in its beauty

Till next times,  good words to you!

Peter

Peter

T


 

 

Subscription software: bane or boon? Part I: Microsoft Office 365

By Peter H. Green

Puzzled?The latest wrinkle in the connected world is subscription software. Yes, you read me right. You can now subscribe to the best-known products for accomplishing major computer tasks on a monthly or yearly basis. In the case of Microsoft Office, one of the most widely used computer products for writing, spreadsheets, databases and presentations, it’s almost an economic necessity. For Adobe, whose Creative Suite has become the standard for photographers, graphic artists and the printing/publishing industry, the new Creative Cloud is supposedly an option to the so-called “permanent” license. As to Adobe products, I’ve been unable to learn exactly how or if one can still purchase their traditional product.

Of the two examples I’m becoming familiar with, Microsoft’s Office 365 is the most drastic change. To purchase Office Pro 2013 installation disk, one must invest upwards of $150, even at Sam’s Club, the cheapest I’ve found, and more from the Microsoft Store, Walmart and Office Depot. The catch is, it can only be installed on one computer. For most small to very small businesses or home offices, this is unacceptable – a crisis – requiring multiple purchases to equip two or more workstations.

Microsoft’s answer is a switch from providing the product, which we’ve been used to calling a permanent license, to a service model. One can imagine their business reasons for the switch. Primarily, the company can never let go of the “product,” since various users constantly tinker with its engineering. Developers suggest improvements; malware hackers find ways to subvert its use with viruses to infect–or Trojan horses to take over–our computers. For as long as the software is in active use the company must remain vigilant and issue patches or complete rewrites to update the code. While a new version is sold annually, because of the added cost of supporting older versions, the period during which the company will support the older versions with free updates has been shortened again and again to as little as three years.

The tradeoff Microsoft offers is to provide access to the premium or professional versions, which Include more programs than the standard version, at an annual subscription rate. In this new system the bulk of the code appears to reside on the Cloud and does not overtax the hard drive capacity of your computer. But the most significant feature is that the software can be accessed and used on up to five computers, tablets or mobile phones for the single subscription price. Is this beginning to sound interesting?

Pricing for this new service depends on its intended use.  Credentialed students can buy a four-year license at a bargain price. Office Home Premium costs $99.00 per year and includes Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, Power Point and One Note, plus a social networking/ conferencing service called Lync and InfoPath, to make the deal almost irresistible. The Small Business Pro package also includes hosting for one business website. This can be done on the YourCompanyName,on Microsoft.com domain,  or on your own separately purchased domain. At an average cost of $80 a year to maintain business Web hosting, this exceeds the cost of the entire minimum subscription and becomes a no-brainer.

My fellow writers are grumbling. “That’s a lot of money – especially if I have to pay it every year. I buy a software package and can use it for five or more years at no additional cost.” I had to think long and hard about it myself before committing to a subscription. Writers work under an archaic industry system with an arcane, random business model which sometimes pays and often doesn’t. The traditional author-agent-big press publisher system has been beaten back over the last five years due to its own mistakes, the recession, competition from e-books and the rise of small independent presses and self-publishers. Subscription software such as Office and the Creative Cloud, now will become a new fixed cost. The plus side is that these applications can help make small operators even more productive at a cost many businesses will consider reasonable.

What do you think? Many of us multi station users will have to make a decision soon. To avoid playing Microsoft’s game, some are opting for Open Office software which until now has been free, or promoting the use of Scrivener, a word processing program, which also has some unique outlining, organizational and note gathering features for writers. Would you subscribe to Microsoft’s new program?  Do you plan to?

To make sure you don’t miss my next post, when I’ll discuss Adobe’s Creative Cloud offerings, please subscribe in the box below.

Until next time, good words to you,


 

Peter
Peter

To buy your own personally autographed copy of Crimes of Design, A Patrick MacKenna Mystery, click to go to Pete’s Crimes of Design sm-ThumbBookshop online

 

Peter

Peter

Mystery romp in tropical paradise turns deadly, stays funny

 

Cover-Dying for a DaiquiriLeave it to a destination wedding on the Big Island of Hawaii to spell trouble for Laurel McKay, bank employee and amateur sleuth. When her brother is accused of murdering a beautiful hula dancer, her sometime significant other, Detective Tom Hunter, is absent as usual, due to a last minute development in a homicide case back home. Experiencing luaus, lava sand beaches, hula dances, cliff-side trail rides and native coffee plantations, I felt I had my own personal vacation in the fiftieth state.

Laurel’s comical interaction with zany relatives, a budding romance with Steve, the gorgeous tourist boat captain of the Sea Jinx, and her suspicious mishaps whenever she hits the tourist trail in this tropical paradise kept me chuckling. As she tries desperately to clear her brother, solve the crime and keep her mind on the task, she finds obstacles everywhere, while distracted by her boy toy’s six-pack abs. Meanwhile the intricate mystery plot is a page turner all the way to its dramatic climax.

Did I mention that I loved  Dying for a Daiquiri? A clever plot, great characters with their lives closely entwined and wonderful scenery enlivened this memorable book. I highly recommend Cindy Sample’s latest in the Laurel McKay series as one of the best–and funniest–contemporary mysteries you’ll find.


 

Crimes of Design sm-ThumbTill next time, good words to you!

Peter

Peter

To buy your own personally autographed copy of Crimes of Design, click to go to Pete’s Bookshop online

 

Amid chaos of Hurricane Katrina Author Pat Kogos finds light

By Peter H. Green

I recently had the pleasure of meeting author  Pat Kogos, a St. Louis native who lived twenty years in New Orleans,  and reading a copy of her new novel, Priory, Louisiana. One never knows what  lies between the covers of a new work. This time I discovered a gem.

Priory Louisana coverWhen Hurricane Katrina strikes in August, 2005, evacuees gather at The Retreat, a B & B in an historic plantation home just north of Baton Rouge. They are forced by devastation and loss to abandon their past lives and face their sins of commission and omission. Only then do their real values and long-suppressed human qualities emerge–kindness, openness and love, pointing them toward new directions, hope.and for some a fresh start.

Priory, Louisiana races rapidly through the flight, return and readjustment of a dozen disparate characters from all walks of life. Refugees from brutal nature and a brutalizing city interact with the merciful inhabitants of a welcoming small town.

Almost flawless in its presentation, beautiful imagery and omniscient point of view, the story unfolds seamlessly at the hands of Pat Kogos, a confident, capable writer, in this stirring and inspirational debut novel. –Peter H. Green, Author

Till next time, good words to you,


 

Peter

Peter

In Hollywood scenario, writer discovers book cover starlet serving in a café

Discovered

It might have been Hollywood. I discovered her in a café serving up espresso. She was young, with beautiful red hair and fair skin. I knew in an instant I had found Erin, teenage daughter of my main character, architect-sleuth Patrick MacKenna. It was fate, and I’d never have another chance. Even though I felt like an old man compared to her fresh youth,  I ratcheted up my courage and asked her if she would consider a photo shoot. Only I wasn’t a film producer and she wasn’t a hopeful starlet trying to break into the movies. But I signed her anyway.

The Setup

Fatal-Designs-Front-CoverWe arranged the photo session with her boyfriend in a nearby county park. I coached them on the plot of my new mystery, Fatal Designs: Erin embarks on a senior float trip in the beautiful Ozarks with her high school classmates and some sophomore girls they sponsor from the inner city. An earthquake disrupts their scenic float and new rapids created by rock falling in the river separate her and few friends from the main party.We had fun with it and even tried our hand at a video trailer. I gained a healthy respect for movie directors whose skills I obviously would need to learn if I ever expected to have any luck with this game. Nevertheless, the still shot was ideal to illustrate the story’s dramatic turning point on the cover. While visiting the latrine they’ve dug in the woods in the middle of the night, she and one of the city girls witness two men burying a body. Erin gasps and they are discovered. Since they’ve seen too much, the thugs take them away. Patrick, frantic about the disappearance of his daughter, must solve the mystery.

Results

Due to the untimely death of my publisher, who was to bring this book on the market this summer, this work is now again on submission, but the publicity can’t wait. I got professional help with the book cover design from Jennifer R. Stolzer LLC.  I’d welcome your thoughts on our result. Please comment below by clicking on reply button. Feel free to be frank and make suggestions. While I realize the ultimate publisher may design the cover, I chose what I thought the main theme should be and wanted to work out the idea..  I believe we’re close with this one. What do you think?

Peter

Peter

To get your copies of my mysteries, World War II biography,free downloads and short stories, please visit Pete’s Bookshop.


 

Private scoops news of the Japanese surrender: August 14, 1945

By Peter H. Green

This month we celebrate the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II. My dad, Pfc. Ben Green, who was running Armed Forces Radio Station WXLI on Guam, had gotten little sleep in days. News and rumors were breaking so fast it was hard to keep up with them and to know which ones to put on the air.

Watching and waiting

Pfc. Ben GreenOn August 14, 1945, as the world awaited word of the Japanese emperor’s acceptance of the final surrender terms, Ben kept the station on full alert. He was there in early afternoon when he got a call from Kani Evans at the office of the Commander in Chief-Pacific (CincPac), who reported a cable had just arrived from Domei, the Japanese national news agency. Its dispatches got careful scrutiny at CincPac headquarters. The one that excited Evans was quoted later in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and across the wire services: “An imperial message accepting the Potsdam proclamation will be forthcoming soon.”

On Guam, Ben instantly grasped the import of the Domei dispatch. His letter home that night reported, all in caps appropriately enough, as a result of the news typewriter that happened to be available to him at that moment:

TUESDAY, AUGUST 14, 1945…A LITTLE AFTER MIDNIGHT

AT LONG LAST, THREE YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND ONE WEEK… AND NOW IT’S REALLY OVER… OUR FIRST FLASH WAS ON THE AIR AT 3:58 P.M…WHICH IS REALLY 2 AM YOUR TIME…FROM THEN ON THE STORY STARTED TO BUILD… I WAS IN OUR OFFICE…KANI AT CINCPAC…HE HAD JUST GIVEN ME A STORY ABOUT A  B-29 ATTACK AND I WAS PREPARING TO PUT IT ON THE AIR, WHEN THE PHONE RANG AGAIN…IT WAS KANI OUT OF BREATH WITH THE DOMEI FLASH.. WE SLAPPED  IT ON THE AIR AND THEN AT 4 PM, TWO MINUTES LATER, TOOK SHORT WAVE FROM SAN FRANCISCO POINTING OUT TO OUR LISTENERS THAT SAN FRANCISCO DIDN’T HAVE THE STORY THEY HAD JUST HEARD OVER WXLI. LITTLE CONFIRMING THINGS KEPT COMING UP ALL DAY…THE BERN SWITZERLAND STORY…THE REUTERS DISPATCH AND FINALLY JUST A WHILE AGO THE WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT CONFIRMING THE FACT THAT A REPLY WAS ON ITS WAY FROM SWITZERLAND…AP CREDITED THE GUAM RADIO WITH MAKING A FLASH ANNOUNCEMENT HERE, WHICH YOU MAY HAVE READ OR HEARD REPEATED INTHE STATES…THAT WAS US!

A Newsman’s Scoop of the Century

What my dad’s letter proves is that he and his men were the first in the world to broadcast the news of Japan’s acceptance of the surrender: this fact was acknowledged by the news center in San Francisco, and the story was fed directly to the stateside networks. He has scooped the news of the war’s end to the rest of the world–Dad’s two minutes of fame!

To read more about  my dad Ben Green’s hilarious and epic battles in World War II, Dad’s War with the United States Marines, you can get your own autographed copy at Pete’s Bookshop.

Till next time, good words to you,


 

Peter

Peter

Lessons unlearned from the Great Flood of ’93–Can it happen again?

By Peter H. Green. AIA, AICP

Before & During the Great Flood of '93

St. Louis County & City Before & During the Great Flood. Earth Observatory Photo

Will we ever learn? Even though the Corps of Engineers now steps back and examines each new flood protection project with much greater care to understand its environmental impacts, the land hungry island of St. Louis, trapped between rivers, persists in its habit of building in floodplains. In view of past disasters, you would think we’d stop and consider the impacts of what we’re doing a lot more carefully.

Twenty years ago last week, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Opinion, July 30, 2013), Gumbo Flats ceased to exist. A large expanse of river floodplain, protected only by the equivalent of a farm levee, had been allowed to develop with a general aviation airport, restaurants, shops, stores and industrial buildings over many years. When the big “Rain Machine,” as the press dubbed it, settled in for the summer of 1993, storm after storm traveled up a virtual train track, trapped between low pressure in the upper Midwest and a persistent high in the southeastern states. One Saturday morning, I watched the television news in disbelief as the engorged Missouri River broke the levee and poured into the breach. The result was instant Venice, with rescue boats the only means of transportation up and down the streets among flooded shops, businesses and aircraft tossed around like so much flotsam and jetsam after a high tide. Today, the levee has been improved to Corps of Engineers 500-year-frequency flood standards, and the area has been rechristened “The Valley,” with hopeful thoughts of emulating the fertile and fashionable San Fernando Valley in Southern California. I shook my head at the time of the flood, as I do now, saying, “I knew that could happen.”

I haven’t said much about all this folly since the seventies and eighties, when these projects were created. because my living depended on helping developers plan and build their projects, many of them in floodplains. Was this against my architectural ethics to protect the public at all costs? Possibly so, although the evidence is not black and white: these projects have so far yielded great economic benefits for the communities where they are located. We tried at the time to justify our actions by planning such developments with the highest quality possible. For example, we made one such project “a city with in the city,” hoping, by diversifying land uses, not only to speed up land sales, but also to cut down on transportation loads for surrounding highways by making it convenient to live, shop and work, all within the same site. We made the sites nature-friendly, with handsome buildings set among trees, lakes and walking trails. In recent years even the practice of diversifying land uses has become more common, and has even earned a respectable new name, “Mixed Use Development.”

Patrick MacKenna, my fictional architect-planner hero, is in a similar bind. He knows it’s probably not in the public’s best interest to create large development projects behind levees in river floodplains, but his best client requires him to do it. He reluctantly obeys, with great misgivings when he discovers that not only can nature overrun man’s plans, but such construction is also more vulnerable than any other site to disruptive environmental objectors. He muses. “We can stay ahead of nature most of the time. But when one of our own decides to oppose us, he can undo all our work.” While urban existence is frail—subject to wind, weather, ice and climatic extremes—flooding seems to be such an avoidable calamity. The Post-Dispatch editorial also concludes: “Here’s what we’ve learned 20 years after the Great Flood of ’93: Not one damned thing.”

Crimes of Design, a Patrick MacKenna mystery, has been characterized by author Rick Skwiot as “a ‘flood-plain noir’ mystery,’ which“weaves a complex tale of murder, eco-terrorism, love, lust and betrayal.” Due to the untimely death of my independent publisher and the closure of the firm, this work is again on submission. You can contact me at the tab above. But copies of the book are still available. To read about Patrick’s struggles to control the natural environment, the built world and man, you can get your own copy at Pete’s Bookshop or at Amazon.com .

Till next time,  good words to you,

Peter

Peter

You are welcome to comment on Lessons unlearned from the Great Flood of ’93 by clicking the “Leave a reply” button below.

 


 

 

Only the Good Die Young: Remembering Indie Publisher Linda Houle, 1959-2013

by Peter H. Green

One of the feistiest players in a new breed of indie publishers thriving lately in the transforming book industry has been L & L Dreamspell, of London, Texas, whose stable of  100 authors included some very fine writers in a broad spectrum of genres, all available in print and multiple e-book formats.

Linda_HouleLast week we received sad news of the untimely passing of Linda Houle, the business partner in this dynamic duo. Her surviving partner, acquisitions editor Lisa Renée Smith, who handled a prodigious amount of work in selecting, editing and producing new works for her company’s front list, has courageously decided to close the company. To her credit, she has already arranged to give the authors back their rights, enabling them to get back in print without further  delay.

We will all miss Linda’s determination, strong ethics and tireless efforts on our behalf, and her presence as a friend. Lisa made an equal  contribution. Together they established a high standard of professionalism for the company and sparked emulation by its peers. Despite their hectic schedule, they always made time for our concerns. As we move on with our books to new publishing homes, we’ll always remember the breaks they made for us by providing us with a welcoming oasis in this bewildering, changing world of publishing.

The book  I published with L & L Dreamspell, my first Patrick MacKenna mystery, Crimes of Design, is described on my website at www.peterhgreen.com, along with several favorable reviews. It can be purchased at my new online outlet, Pete’s Bookshop. We will re-establish the e-book, get back into print and reconnect everything to Amazon.com in the coming weeks. A second, Fatal Designs, was ready for publication but arrived too late for LInda’s final blessing and publication. I’ll keep you posted about that one in these pages.

Till next time, good words to you,

Peter

Peter