Post #42 – Plagiarism and Banned Authors

10/11/18

A blog I follow, The Ryan Lanz, had a recent post on plagiarism.

Then I read this story about Amazon banning self publishing authors for questionable conduct.

Neither issue impacts me at the moment, and yet now I’m hesitant to dive into self publishing, especially on Amazon. As if it’s not scary enough to put oneself out there by self publishing a novel, now you can be falsely accused of plagiarism? With limited recourse? And potentially being prohibited from selling in the largest online  marketplace? Though I’m likely years from attempting to publish a novel, I dream of self publishing a collection of short stories. Ideally, this would include reprints of my stories that appeared in literary magazines, along with maybe a new tale or two to lure in my vast audience. Remember this is a dream. But could I be accused of plagiarizing myself?

As an aside, the most interesting copyright case I remember involved George Harrison being sued, and losing, for plagiarizing “He’s So Fine” when writing “My Sweet Lord.” The court’s decision made obvious the judge was a fan and really didn’t want to rule against Harrison. How else did the judge come up with “subconscious plagiarism”? Unfortunately, the facts were not in Harrison’s favor.

And what’s with gaming the system to increase your ranking on Amazon? I enjoy money as much as the next person, but I can’t see myself trying techno-tricks to beat Amazon at its own game. Maybe I just don’t have the bandwidth to attempt to learn such tricks, but more likely I just don’t care. Maybe I’d feel differently if writing was my career. Maybe when you’re desperate, this seems like an easy solution to help. Isn’t that the rationale/cause of a lot of crime?

Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe there is a story or two to be had from these events. I’m always on the look out for those.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve had issues with plagiarism or the machine that is Amazon in general. Are there other traps out there to be weary of?

Photo credit: mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Post #41 – 3Q18 Update

10/4/18

The third quarter is in the books, and below are my stats.

Words written = 13,400

Submissions = 26

Rejections = 23

Acceptances = 0

Publications = 1

It was an interesting quarter. I spent July feverishly trying to finish a novella in time for Tor’s submission window, which closed mid-August, only to realize it wouldn’t happen. The novella had grown beyond my original intended ending, and there wasn’t time to develop a new proper ending. This project remains ongoing. I still haven’t figured out what that proper ending is yet.

August was bookended by a business trip the first week and vacation the last week, both of which offered opportunities to be productive, and I took them. During the business trip, I wrote a new children’s picture book manuscript, which I’m really excited about, added on to an in progress short story and started a flash fiction story. On vacation I finished that short story and flash fiction story, started a new flash fiction piece, and added 1000 words to the novella.

I was disappointed not to receive an acceptance this quarter. That broke my (admittedly short) streak of one acceptance a quarter this year. However, that was buoyed by the publication of my first accepted work in the Fall 2018 issue of Stinkwaves Magazine. Technically, that issue was not published until October 1, but I’m counting it because the issue was available for pre-order in September.

I’m comfortably on track to hit my 50,000 word goal by the end of the year. For the final quarter of 2018, in addition to the never ending cycle of submissions, I’d like to finish the novella and the new flash fiction piece. I’d also like to start and finish a new children’s picture book manuscript. In fact, my new goal is to do that every quarter. My list of ideas for children’s books isn’t getting any shorter.

The open question is what to do about NaNoWriMo. Do I attempt it? If so, with what? Do I try to hit the 50,000 words using a series of short stories, or do I finally work on my novel?

I doubt I’ll try either way. I still don’t have the time needed to devote to that challenge, so the pressure would just annoy me. I may devote the month to my novel anyway. I’m intrigued to see what progress I can make. A post last month on A Writers Path advocated writing 300-500 words a day for a year. Writing 300 words six days a week for 50 weeks comes to a respectable +90,000 words in a year, i.e. a novel. (Ironically, I’m excluding two weeks for vacation, which is one of my more productive times.) If I try that approach over the 30 days in November, I’ll at least net 9,000 words.

Let me know in the comments how productive your last three months were and how you plan to finish out the year. Do you plan on tackling NaNoWriMo?

Photo credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay

Post #39 – A French Writing Adventure, Part 2

9/20/18

Last week I detailed a laptop battery issue that kept me from writing for several days while on vacation in Paris. Before leaving the U.S., I had grand plans of writing every night once the family went to bed. Since that wasn’t happening, what’d I do instead? I read! And it was luxurious.

I don’t get much free time to read. I don’t get much free time at all. What little I have I mostly use to write. From a reading standpoint, I’ve been working my way through the same two books all year. For some reason, I tend to read a physical book and an ebook simultaneously. I hope to finish reading both by Christmas. Then I can get an early start on my two for next year.

I also have subscriptions to two sci-fi magazines: Galaxy’s Edge (it’s free to read online) and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (purchased a year’s electronic subscription on sale for $5 on Amazon). Before this trip, I don’t think I’d made it through an entire issue of either.

I’m pleased to report I’ve now read an entire issue of Galaxy’s Edge. I’m still working on the MFSF issue. Even once I resolved the battery issue, I continued reading in the evenings after everyone went to bed. Following a day of walking and chasing two kids around the beach (we’d moved on to Aix-en-Provence and finished in Antibes on the French Riviera), I was too tired to write at night; or the logistics of our accommodations didn’t permit me to keep a light on. (My next laptop needs a back-lit keyboard.) I usually could finish a story or two before nodding off.

as an aside, before kids, when vacationing, my wife and I each would take a book to read and then we’d share a third book. Even then, we often bought one or more books from a local store. We were prolific readers. Good times.

Once in Antibes, we stayed at a great Airbnb with a second story terrace. There, during a couple nap times, I managed to hammer out a few more words. The three painters we experienced in Provence (Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Picasso) were not that inspiring for my writing, but the opportunity to write in the open air on a terrace was. I finished the first draft of a short story that had languished for a while and started a flash fiction piece. I also wrote several hundred words for the latter on my phone while waiting for takeout one night. Got to take advantage when the inspiration strikes.

Words written in Provence = 5000. (Some of these I wrote on the flight home, but I’m still counting them as written in Provence.) Words written on the entire trip = 6500. Not a novel, but I’ll take it. This will go a long way towards meeting my quarterly goal of 12,500 words.

Let me know in the comments how you relax on your vacations. For those writers, do you write, read, or a mix of both?  Or do you focus on eating, drinking, sleeping, and being merry?

Photo credit: SoleneC1 via Pixabay

Post #40 – First Publication!

Featured

9/28/18

It’s finally here. The first time my words appear in print. The Fall 2018 issue of Stinkwaves Magazine contains my story “Cramping Your Style” about a boy whose soccer injury may cause unintended consequences. The issue will be published October 1, but feel free to pre-order here! There are print and ebook versions. Both versions also are available through Amazon here.

If you have a child falling in the middle grade age range (or read up to that range), treat them to the Fall 2018 issue of this fun literary magazine. Back issues also are available through the magazine’s website and Amazon.

Added bonuses:

  • The magazine is published by, thus purchases support, a small, independent publisher.
  • I finally can establish an Amazon Author Page.

If you do purchase on Amazon, please leave a comment with your thoughts on the magazine.  Thanks!

Photo credit: kconcha via Pixabay

Post #38 – A French Writing Adventure, Part 1

9/13/18

I recently took a trip to France with the family. Keep in mind, any time traveling with kids is a trip not a vacation.

We traveled to Paris and Provence. Though I’ve been to Paris before, I was excited. I don’t normally take my laptop transatlantic, too much weight, too likely to lose or damage, and too likely to get searched upon arrival into the U.S. This time I decided to do so at the last minute. My fantasy football draft would happen while I was abroad, plus I could write in France!

Think of the company I’d share–Dumas, Voltaire, de Saint-Exupery, but most importantly Jules Verne. I could write in the birthplace of the grandfather of science fiction!

We planned to stay near the Eiffel Tower because my oldest daughter was enamored with that piece of architecture. Having booked our hotel well in advance, we set out. Going transatlantic is always difficult. It’s essentially a red eye. It’s harder with kids because they sleep on the plane. Normally, I do too but not this time.

We arrive at the hotel at 8:30a (or 2:30a by our internal clocks). Somehow they have a room available. It’s not what we booked, which was one with two double beds. There are four of us. Instead what was ready, and what we readily took due to exhaustion, was a room with one double bed and a trundle bed, meaning two singles, one on the floor that tucks under the one at sofa level. I didn’t know it was called that. My wife had to tell me.

I was excited because we were on the 11th floor, and there was a small table next to a window. I instantly fantasized about writing there overlooking the city.

After seeing a couple things that day, including the Eiffel Tower from street level, we went to bed early. The next morning the family slept and slept. Conveniently positioned on the sofa, I got up and decided to write. I finished a flash fiction story and added two scenes to my novella-in-progress. All that was missing was some French coffee.

Once the family final woke, we left and took in some more sites. Only when we got back did my wife look out the window and note we had a view of Notre Dame and the Pantheon, two of the sites we saw that day. The window had a weird angle, which we thought was odd, until my wife looked to her left. That’s when she notice we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower! I spent the entire morning staring out at beautiful Parisian rooftops when I could have moved the table a little to view the Eiffel Tower. I know, rough life.

Here’s the bad news. I didn’t bother plugging my laptop in that morning and drained the battery. When I went to recharge it, it wouldn’t cooperate. I have one of those sets of travel plugs to convert various outlets around the world and the accompanying surge protector. Using both, the battery would charge for a couple minutes and then stop, but it worked fine for our other electronics. I was devastated. How would I write? Do I hammer out words in the note app on my phone? Do I buy a notebook and try longhand?

For two days, I tried different plugs in our room and changing the angle of the plug converter, surge protector, and laptop plug. Nothing worked. Then my wife said something that made me realize I didn’t need the surge protector. Sure enough, plugging the laptop cord directly into the plug converter worked. The laptop began to charge! Crisis averted.

The final tally from my four days in Paris: 1500 words written. Without the recharging debacle, exhaustion, and a sick kid the last night, it likely would have been more. I’d have to make up for it on the rest of the trip. We were on to Provence to be inspired by three great painters.

Photo credit: Pexels via Pixabay