The right words might get you laid

Words matter. When I was fifteen I worked as a cashier at a gas station. Now, this was at a time when a station employee, usually male, would rush out to fill your tank, wash your windows, and check the oil in your car. You then handed him twenty bucks and he ran inside to the cashier, then ran back out with your change. Yes, you read that right. Your change. I know, I know, I’m dating myself. And we think it’s getting serious. Anyhow, the common term for the Read More …

It’s the end of the world – for writers

So, a new publication called Aftermath is having a short story (1500–5000 words) contest. The winner will receive $1000 USD. Sounds good, right? Well, it’s garbage, actually. Because while the top three share in the $1400 prize money, the rest may still be considered for publication for the – wait for it – “usual fee” of $25. Yes, you read that right. Basically, the contest is a way to find enough stories to get the magazine off the ground and going for a while, and at a rate of $0.0166 Read More …

Amazon close Write On. Will they go after Wattpad?

  Amazon announced today that, effective 22 March 2017, their online writing community website, Write On by Kindle, will cease operations. Authors are advised to download their work(s), and a warning has been posted on the site’s landing page. Write On was Amazon’s late-to-the-party entry into the online writing community. Earlier, and more successful communities include Scribd, which morphed into a paid subscription service, and Wattpad, with its 45,000,000+ global membership, and which funds itself through advertising (with nothing paid to authors, but that’s another story). The demise of Write On reminds Read More …

The charitable way to create a bestseller

Recently, as part of my endeavour to read all the unread books on my shelf, I tackled the soporific Three Cups of Tea (2006, paperback 2007) by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. While leaving my review on Goodreads I stumbled across the scandal that plagued the book and its authors in 2011, complete with a 60 Minutes investigation that triggered another investigation by Montana’s Attorney General. That investigation would ultimately see Mortenson ordered to pay restitution to the charity he founded, the Central Asia Institute (CAI). Despite not having Read More …

Interview on Vancouver Co-op Radio

I was interviewed yesterday on Writing Life, on Vancouver’s Co-op Radio, 100.5 FM. We covered some of the basics of self-publishing, as well as marketing and international publishing. You can listen here or download here.  

WordXperts, or Why you shouldn’t rely on offshore editors

A while back I received a spam email from the Indian company WordXperts soliciting my custom for their editorial services. As with Grammarly.com, I was struck by the irony of an email advertisement that only served to illustrate precisely why I shouldn’t use the advertised services. Language is not merely a system of rules; it is contextual, cultural. The meaning of a word or sentence may change depending on where it is spoken or written. As my British ex-husband used to joke, we were separated by a common language. Thus, Read More …

The offensive against the offensive: self-published erotica comes under fire

Amazon have removed from their catalogue several self-published ebooks that depict violent acts of rape and incest, and today Kobo Writing Life authors will have received an email from KWL director Mark Lefebvre indicating that Kobo are following suit. The current offensive is the result of an article on the British technology website The Kernel that found for sale on Amazon pornographic titles such as Naughty Daughter Abducted And Pounded By Daddy’s Cock: Anal Sex And BDSM With My Step Father (taboo daddy daughter erotica) by Shannon Leigh. It cited Read More …

Amazon’s Worlds for Authors and the grey area that is fan fiction

Amazon recently announced the creation of Kindle Worlds for Authors, a publishing platform for fan fiction, currently restricted to Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars, and expected to launch soon. Amazon is obviously hoping to cash in on the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, originally written as fan fiction of the Twilight Series, as are the rights holders themselves, who will share in the royalties. Fan fiction falls into a grey area of copyright law: characters and personalities are not copyrightable, only the expression of them. Read More …

Finding Inspiration: Pedro Pablo Oliva

On a recent trip to Cuba I discovered this artist, one of the country’s finest, at the Museo Nacional Bellas Artes in Havana where his triptych of huge ceramic teacups greets the visitor and four of his original oil paintings hang. Upon discovering the ceramics I was immediately smitten, and then upon entering the second floor gallery I discovered the paintings, which were the best in the whole museum. The imagination and style expressed in ¡Y qué mala Magdalena…! (who resembled a psychotic Alice in Wonderland) and Saturno enseñando a Read More …