Monday, July 16, 2018

A Fairy Tale


Once upon a time, a handsome (so we're told) prince* in the land of Amazon had an idea.

"I'll create a platform to help beginning and lesser-known authors write and publish stories based on established fictional universes!" the prince exclaimed in his odd, though native, Princeton tongue.

image of quill and parchment

He waved his magic wand and created Kindle Worlds where a famous author would allow others to add to the body of work he or she had created. There were guidelines in place, of course, to protect the original author from damage, but it allowed those not-so-famous writers to join the party. It seemed like a good deal for everyone. The famous authors get publicity for their work and the struggling authors get the benefit of writing stories for a world with which the reader would be familiar. The readers of those worlds would benefit by having more stories than ever to chose from and enjoy. The Prince would take a cut of the profits.

Then one day, a greedy ogre (who had been disguised as the aforementioned handsome prince) decided it wasn't worth the time and expense to do all this. The payoff wasn't enough. The ogre took out a sword—or pen, as the case may be—and slew Kindle Worlds. Darkness spread over the land.

End of story.

Not much of a tale, I suppose, but that's the way it looks to many writers. No hero to save the day here. Was the prince really an ogre or was Kindle Worlds an empty, deteriorating wing of his publishing palace? I don't know. What I do know is that closing it down threw a bucket of cold water onto the plans of some aspiring writers.

The effect of all this became apparent when I checked on the author page of a writer I'm familiar with: Terri Deno.

A short while ago, Terri had a nice collection of works to display.

Terri Deno's book before Kindle Worlds went away

Now, not so much...


Even if you had the book's URL (Melody of Love used as an example here), all you got was this:

Even when the books still were on Amazon, the links went nowhere...

No offense to Barney, but that's not what I was looking for.

Terri had done the work and played by the rules, but that didn't matter somehow. Three of her five books were for Kindle Worlds. Now the books are gone. Can they be rewritten and published in a format that won't violate the rules Amazon and the original author have put in place? Sure, but it's hard enough to write a book once. Writing it twice seems like punishment.

Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps it's take charge of your own destiny. Easier said than done when you're a writer. Or be patient; the most beautiful flowers are often the last to bloom. Or those who seem most eager to help aren't always your friend. Pick one. Or three. Best of all—write your own.


* He graduated from Princeton, so I'm assuming he was a prince. I could be wrong.


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Shore Leave 40 - Friday Part II



Note: This post was updated July 19, 2018 to correct a typo.

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Although there wasn't as many workgroups that dealt directly with writing this year, I did attend the Anthologies: Share the Love panel on Friday. There was a lot of joking going on as it was starting about how the panelists outnumbered the attendees. Eventually it did fill up until the number was almost equal, but interest seems to have faded from past conventions.

A few members of the anthology panel waiting for attendees to arrive.
A few members of the anthology panel
waiting for attendees to arrive.

The panelist for this group were Greg Cox ( Moderator ), Phil Giunta, Jenifer Rosenberg, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Christopher L. Bennett, Joshua Palmatier, and Richard C. White. The discussion points for this panels were:
  1. What attracts readers to short story collections? 
  2. Do you prefer themed collections, single author collections, or a Whitman’s Sampler of stories? 
  3. What draws authors to write for anthologies?
The discussion started with the moderator mentioning that conventional wisdom says that short story collections/anthologies don't sell. It was agreed that print versions don't sell as well as novel, and many larger publishing houses do not want to deal with them. It was mentioned that they do sell in electronic format, but are often not marketed ans anthologies or collections (subscriptions or similar formats are used). One reason anthologies don't sell is they do not have the power of a single author (with a strong reputation) to sell them. It was mentioned that small presses often do better with anthologies.

One problem with anthologies can be that several authors may write similar stories and that can make an anthology boring (or make the editors work harder). As some of the panelists had edited anthologies, there were a number of horror stories passed on about this scenario.

They asked writers who wish to write for anthologies to come up with a number of ideas and eliminate the most obvious and the most outlandish ideas to come up with a story that has the greatest chance for success.

When answering why anthologies (or collections) were popular, many said they could read a complete story each night or whenever they had a small amount of time. Others mentioned that if they didn't like a particular author or story they could skip past it and start a new story. Some just liked having a variety of stories on a theme. It was noted, however, many people prefer novels to short stories and will avoid anthologies, sometimes complaining to publishers that they did not understand that the book they purchased was an anthology. Some even demanded their money back (even though it was clearly marked on the cover as an anthology or collection).

Those who had edited anthologies said that the hardest part of putting together an anthology is picking the story order. The two best should go in the front and the back, but it isn't always easy to chose!

Finally, they asked why would someone write a short story or an anthology? Here were the answers provided:

  1. The challenge of the writing prompt or theme (Can I write a story for this?)
  2. To test an idea for a longer story
  3. To have a place for an idea that won't support a long story
  4. Nostalgia, even if it won't pay off economically
  5. To expand the breadth and the writer's ideas/works
  6. To challenge yourself as a writer (Can I write this idea as a short story?)

All in all, it was a good panel with many real-life experiences and tips passed on to the writers who did attend!

After the panel I made my way down to the Hunt Valley rooms to listen to the end of the Okudas talk about graphics. Michael and Denise Okuda did a lot of the graphics for Star Trek.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I attended the Meet the Pros party in the main hall. Lots of sci-fi authors gather to display and sell their books. Talked to Joshua Palmatier again - hoping to someday have a story in one of his anthologies.

Meet the pros - Shore Leave 40 - Friday night
Meet the Pros - authors selling their books

It was getting late, so we headed up to our rooms. On the way I glanced into the art show room and noticed that on of my pieces had sold. Of the three I brought, I figured "Hyacinths" would be a tough sell since it is hardly the right venue for flower art, but that's the one that went first. I hope whoever got it enjoys it!

You can see (watch the video!) more about my art (for sale) and the books I brought to give away HERE.


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Shore Leave 40 - Friday


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I had to get to Shore Leave early on Friday as I had to get photo op tickets for a friend. Sign in is always easy at Delta Hotels Hunt Valley, and once that was done I went right over to the registration table to pick up my badge and related materials.

The next stop was the art show. My first time here, so I wasn't sure what to do. The staff helped me out with instructions on the paperwork and hanging the pictures. If you want to know more about what I brought you can read (and watch the video) that is posted on my Patreon site.

Once my companions arrived, we took a quick look around to check the set-up. Not all the vendors were there and no actors or actresses were in sight, so we decided to have lunch and plan our afternoon activities.

My first stop after eating was the autograph tables. A few celebrities had arrived, so we talked with Peter Williams, Peter Kelamis, Chase Masterson, and Aron Eisenberg. Chase Masterson has founded an anti-bullying foundation called the Pop Culture Hero Coalition. I brought out the anti-bullying book Tales from the Bully Box (with my story One Above Zero) and asked if she would sign it. I now have a copy with a very nice message from her on the inside cover. I had brought it to give away, but I'll be keeping it now.

I also attended a panel on anthologies called Anthologies: Share the Love. I'll have more on that later. Since all of my works have been in anthologies, I thought that was appropriate.

During the evening, I attended the Meet the Pros party in the main hall. Lots of sci-fi authors gather to display and sell their books. Talked to Joshua Palmatier again - hoping to someday have a story in one of his anthologies.

Meet the pros - Shore Leave 40 - Friday night
Meet the Pros - authors selling their books
And as a final pleasant surprise, some kind soul bought one of my pictures: Hyacinths. It's the one I thought wouldn't sell!

You can see (watch the video!) more about my art and books I brought to give away HERE.


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Shore Leave 40 Books And Art


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Thumbnail of video on Patreon site about Shore Leave 40 book giveaways
Thumbnail of video on Patreon site
about Shore Leave 40 book giveaways

I'm going to be giving away a number of books at the Shore Leave 40 Sci-fi convention this year (July 6-8) that takes place in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

I'm also going to have a few pieces of art on display (and for sale) if all goes as planned.

You can read about it here on my PATREON site (free access). Click on the big picture on that site and you'll see a video of me talking about all the books I'll be giving out! Warning: I am not a professional actor. If you don't want to go there, just click HERE for the video. But then you won't see the thumbnail shots of the artwork I'll have in the show.

Best of all, come join in the fun at Shore Leave!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 59


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 59th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
Here is a link to the photo prompt for this week's challenge.
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.



Link to story:

I've written sort of a horror/sci-fi/steampunk piece this time. It's called Serendipity. The story is posted on my Patreon site (free access).


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 56


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 56th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
Here is a link to the photo prompt for this week's challenge.
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.



Link to story:

I've written a very short horror piece this time. It's called Out of Kindness. The story is posted on my Patreon site (free access).


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Amazing Shrinking Kindle Universe


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Write On

Kindle Scout

Amazon's platforms for authors keep shrinking

And if you haven't heard, Amazon is shutting down Kindle Worlds. In Amazon's words:

"Kindle Worlds is a publication platform where you choose a licensed World, read the Content Guidelines for that World, write your story, upload that story, create a cover, and click through a publishing agreement with Amazon Publishing. Once published, every Kindle Worlds story will be featured on Amazon.com, as well as on Kindle devices and apps. Follow the steps below to publish your story today!"

Except that submissions are now closed.


This is a real problem for authors who have written for Kindle Worlds. It's up to each world owner to determine how, or if, authors can keep selling their work. A few owners I've looked at have mentioned nothing.

Let me know if you've written for Kindle Worlds and if you've heard what your options are. You can read the thoughts on this subject by Kindle Worlds author Terri Deno here: The Death of Kindle Worlds.

What alternatives are you looking into for writing fan fiction? Let me know!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Shore Leave 40 Is Coming Soon!


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Yes, the annual Shore Leave Sci-fi convention is only a couple of months away. It sneaks up on me every year. I go to meet WRITERS and CELEBRITIES, and try to keep up with what's going on in the sci-fi world. This has been a difficult year at best, and I'm not sure how much of the convention I'll be able to attend, but I hope to spend some time there.

If you want to get an idea of what the convention is about, here's a short video! (This may not show well on mobile devices.)



Video courtesy of BCPL Online (Baltimore County Public Library)

BTW, I'll be giving away a few books from authors I know and maybe have a couple of works in the art show. The don't have a direct link for the art show yet (they aren't the best at getting information out...), but it should be coming soon. Until then, click HERE.


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, May 4, 2018

Old Book, New Sales


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Sometimes a book surprises you.



Here's a link to my post on Patreon telling how.

BTW, I'll be giving away a copy of Dead Men's Tales at Shore Leave 40 this year!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Brief Update On Current Projects


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Image of quill and parchment

 

As you may have noticed, I haven't been doing much blogging or writing or had anything of interest to post here for the last couple of months. My day job and family issues have been keeping me busy. Work has always been crazy during this part of the year, but this time it's worse than usual. I did find a few extra minutes today, however, so I thought I'd update anyone who might still be following this blog on what my plans are for the future.

Here's what I'm hoping to do in the coming months:

  1. I have a few short stories almost ready for submission. They've been almost ready for about three months now. It's time finish up and get some new stories out there. A few of these will go to Horrified Press / Thirteen O'clock Press. I have a few thousand more in the wings—I'd like to get to them before I expire...
  2. I had approached Terri Deno about working together on a small series of traditional haiku books. She indicated she might be interested, so I started on a mock-up of what I was considering. Then I lost the files. Well, I found them again. Soon I want to have enough to give her an idea of how the books will appear.
  3. I have a few digital art pictures in process, including one for Terri Deno. Some of the others will be shown at Shore Leave 40 if they ever provide the necessary details about the art show. There's nothing on the web site yet. "Soon," they say. I also hope to have some traditional art there, but time is running short.
  4. Speaking of which, I need to start preparing for Shore Leave 40. It sort of sneaks up on me every year.
  5. Start compiling the poems to be included in a book titled Dark Rhythms, a collection of rhyming poetry on the dark side. I'll bet you can figure out complex mental process I used to select the title.
  6. Finish the Beth Rhodes novels I started reading. They're getting better with each one.
  7. Write a couple of flash fiction stories or short poems for Miranda Kate's Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

That's all I have time for now. Check back soon, though, as I'm really trying to get back to posting regularly!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, March 26, 2018

Reports Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated


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No, I'm not pushing up daisies...

Yes, I stole the title of this blog post, even though it is a misquote.

I haven't been on here for about a month. I'm not sure what the next month will bring, but I do hope to have a real post at some point.

I wanted to let any followers I have know that I am still alive and will continue once the duties of my day job ease. Too much overtime and falling asleep at the computer at home has reduced my creative time to this.

I will post again, however, I promise.

I shall return! (Yeah, I stole that, too...)


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another One Bites The Dust


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I don't often visit the site for Salon magazine as they seldom post anything of interest (to me), but the other day I clicked on a link that took me to their page. That's when I got this pop-up:



I get these sort of warnings a lot. This one was slightly different, though. They gave me an option. I could allow them to use my "spare" computing power to mine for cryptocurrency. Apparently they don't make enough money with ads or subscriptions, so they want me to allow them to use my computer and electricity so they can grab some digital currency to help keep them going. They talk about how the money could be used for what they consider valid social causes. Yes, I suppose it could, but I really think it's to help their bottom line.

While I give them kudos for being upfront about it, they didn't say anything about sharing.

If Salon wants to mine cryptocurrency, that's fine by me. But don't ask to use my resources and slow down / overheat my PC to do it.

What's also interesting is that back in December 2017 Salon posted an article saying this sort of thing was bad as it would require more value in energy than it would get in currency. This extra load would slow the acceptance of "green" energy sources. So it's bad if you do this but good if they do it. Got it.

You may ask why I use an ad blocker when so many sites rely on ads for revenue. I don't block all ads. I don't even mind having a few ads on the screen since I don't click on them. But things have gotten to the point where many web sites are so full of ads and pop-ups as to become unusable. Or they are painful to use. In addition, you never know where the ads originate. More and more have embedded malware or render poorly.

So, in an effort to keep my sanity, I use AdBlocker to block many of them. And since Salon seldom has anything truly unique I can't live without, I just have to say good-bye. I know Salon will disagree, but most of what they have (that I would consider reading) is 10% news and 90% opinion. That's not worth a subscription or having them use my PC to make them richer.

I've also stopped going to Business Insider as they insist I get rid of my ad blocker. Again, there is nothing on that site that isn't on a bunch of other sites.

I do pay for some content on the Internet, and have a few subscriptions that are free. But I get to chose which ones.

So, so long, Salon (and Business Insider).

Note: AdBlocker now has an option to filter out at least some of the sites using your PC to mine for money. And, yes, I have turned that filter on.



P.S. It would be great if you could check out Terri Deno's Patreon site and consider supporting her writing efforts! Struggling authors need all the help they can get!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 41


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 41st Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
This picture was created by Ana Prazeres or Aegils, a Portugese artist. You can find her work on Deviant Art and also on 500px. She has some incredible creations. She calls this one 'The Craft' - which offers a story in itself.
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.




I've written short horror piece this time. It's called Chain of Dreams. The story is posted on my Patreon site (free access). I wanted to put a mention here for anyone following my blog especially since so few know about my Patreon site. You can access my story by clicking the title below (and I've put a little preview below).



Preview: 
Of course it was a dream. It had to have been. The ocean was hundreds of miles away. The house didn't even look like hers.
Miriam sat up in bed. She wiped the sweat from her forehead and waited for her heart to slow. She was certainly awake now—might as well get up and get ready for her appointment.

It's only 312 words long, so I can't give to much of a sample! To continue reading, go to my Patreon site (free access for all on this story).


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Digital Image, Analog Device


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I've created another patron-only post on my Patreon site. This time it's artwork in the form of digital images. My trusty pocket watch is the subject this time.

Here's a teaser of one of the images:

Sample of pocket watch mosaic image

Here's the link to Digital Image, Analog Device on my Patreon site. As I mentioned, it's for patrons only, so if you really want to view it (and my other patron-only posts), it'll cost you. But not a lot!

While I enjoy working with digital images, I need to do some work by hand—you know, that stuff you create with pencils, pens, and brushes! All I need is time...



P.S. It would be great if you could check out Terri Deno's Patreon site and consider supporting her writing efforts! Struggling authors need all the help they can get!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 39


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 39th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
This week's photo prompt was taken by Piroshki-Photography, a Serbian photographer. You can find more of their photos on their page at Deviant Art. They call this one 'Curved Reality'. It was taken in Santa Margherita Ligure, in Genoa, Italy.
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.




I've written short sci-fi piece this time. It's called Accounting Problem. The story is posted on my Patreon site (free access). I wanted to put a mention here for anyone following my blog especially since so few know about my Patreon site. You can access my story by clicking the title below (and I've put a little preview below).




Preview: 

Of course, there had been anomalies: satellites in disturbed orbits, aircraft that went off course, inexplicable tidal surges, and more than a few people claimed to have had peculiar visions when gazing into the sky. The leaders of the major governments all dismissed these as hoaxes, the working of deranged minds, or even as acts of God, but they all knew. Now, however, the effects were obvious to everyone. The cat, so to speak, was out of the bag. Schrödinger's cat, apparently.

To continue reading, go to my Patreon site (free access for all on this story).


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 37


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 37th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
This week's photo prompt was taken by Kari Liimatainen, a photographer from Finland. She has some amazing seasonal photos. You should take a look at her gallery over on Deviant Art.
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.




I've written a poem this time. It's called The Faerye's Death. The poem is posted on my Patreon site (free access). I wanted to put a mention here for anyone following my blog, especially since so few know about my Patreon site. You can access my poem by clicking the title below.



© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved