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January 16, 2019

There’s nothing that makes me feel better than supporting fellow authors. I do it through mentoring and through my blog here at Fred Central. I do it by plugging them wherever I feel appropriate on social media and elsewhere.

I do it by also buying and reviewing their books.



As much as I like to support my fellow authors, for practicality reasons, I have to be choosy about which books I buy. I can’t afford to buy every book by every author friend I know.

To be blunt, some books I know aren’t going to be very good. I’ve either heard or read parts of these books and know what they’re going to be like.

On the other hand, there are those that are in a genre or point of view I don’t read. Nothing against the person, but even though I support them, I won’t buy their book because it’s written in first-person, it’s heavily omniscient, it’s present-tense, or it’s a subject matter I’d never EVER read.

There’s just so much money I can afford to fork out for books.

Besides, I could not in good conscience give them a glowing review for something I clearly don’t like.


I expect the same from my fellow authors as well. I know most of them don’t read what I write. Besides, many of them have already heard my stories at the writer’s group meetings. Plus, certain of them I’ve given copies of my books as thank you’s for their support, knowing full well they’ll never actually read it.

On the other hand, I have lots of writer acquaintances and I don’t expect them to buy my book and review it just because I know them. I’m pretty sure they don’t expect the same from me either.

On the other hand, I DO support and plug my fellow authors whenever I’m out and about. It’s all part of networking.

When I hear from readers looking for a particular genre and I know of a fellow writer that has one in the can, I’m sure to mention their book before I cite the well-known authors. They can always look the big ones up on their own. It’s a lot harder to find those of us in the trenches!


We’re not in the big six of the publishing world, so we need to support each other any way we can. I always try to do my part.

If you have a book with a subject I’m interested in, it’s written in solid third-person, past-tense, and is NOT omniscient, I may just buy it from you. If it has a good positive ending, I’ll probably give it a great review as well. If it’s bad, I’ll more than likely not review it at all. That doesn’t mean I won’t support you in other ways, though.

We’re all in this together and the worst part of this whole process is the marketing. We have to help market each other. Just by giving a good word or mentioning each other now and then does a world of good, even if we don’t read what you write, or particularly like your style.


I buy books at the bookstore all the time. Granted, they’re usually from the big six. However, I’m supporting them as fellow authors as well, because even though they have a big machine behind them, they’re still just like us. If you happen to write something I’m interested in and it’s written in the style I read, I’ll certainly give it a try as well.

Happy writing!





January 9, 2019

I talked recently about the muse, and how one friend believes the muse is just a made up term, an excuse for not writing. It’s an excuse for writer’s block.

Whatever term you want to use, your inspiration has to come from somewhere.

The other day, I was on one of my forums and someone posted the question asking everyone for ideas on what to write about. They ran out of ideas, couldn’t think of where to start, or just wanted a fresh idea other than their own.

My answer was (in a nutshell) that if you had to ask, you either needed to give up for a while, or find another genre to write in.


If you’re so uninspired that you can’t think of a thing to write about, you shouldn’t be writing.


There’s no point struggling. Whatever you DO write will just be forced, and it will show.


The whole point of writing for pleasure is to write for pleasure. Unless you’re a professional, in which you’re given assignments and have goals and subjects, you’re doing this on your own.

By doing it on your own, it’s supposed to be fun, to be inspired, to be something you WANT to do.

If you have to ask others for ideas, it’s not you. You’re now writing for everyone else, not yourself. Your inspiration isn’t you anymore.

For better or worse, you’re no longer doing it for pleasure, you’re doing it because you think you have to. Or, you’re taking the mercenary approach.


Some of us started with a specific goal in mind. Granted, this goal might not have been the most inspired of intentions. Say, to write a memoir.

Rather than dictate it to someone else, say…a stranger, you decided to take up writing and do it yourself. It’s like a one-time project. One-and-done.

Then there are those of us who love to read and are inspired to tell our own stories. We take up the task of learning to write so we can get our stories out there.

There are every variety of extremes in-between as well.

When we take up writing, go through the trouble/work/hassle of learning to write, then don’t have any more ideas, what then?

Why bother?


While this individual asking the question the other day is far from alone, I cringe every time I hear questions like that. I actually hear that type of question more than you might imagine. Since I participate in several writing forums, questions on “what should I write about?” pop up all the time.

Most of the time I don’t respond, but once in a while I feel compelled to say something. I don’t mean it in a malicious way, but if you’re a writer, why?

I’ve been at this for twenty plus years, and there’s no way in my lifetime I’m ever going to be able to complete the novels and/or short stories for all the ideas I have, all the plot lines I’ve mapped out in my head, all the inspirations (muses) I’ve bounced around. It’s all a matter of harnessing the best ones and the ones I can recall when it’s time to sit down and commit to one.

I sincerely feel for those writers that have to get on line and ask the writing community to give them ideas of what to write about. If they’re that uninspired or that lacking in ideas, they need to seriously re-think why they’re a writer at all. Maybe they just need a mental kick in the pants. Maybe they’re brimming with ideas but they’re so disorganized, it’ll take something to bring them to the surface. Maybe there’s stress in their life that’s blocking those ideas.

Or, maybe they just picked the wrong passion to pursue. Maybe they need to take up woodworking, sewing, bike riding, or tennis?


Writing isn’t for everyone. To be a writer, you have to have something to write. If you’re just a blank slate and have to ask everyone else what to write about, maybe you could succeed as a technical writer, albeit, an uninspired one. As a fiction writer, you probably need to find another passion.

Happy “inspired” writing!


January 1, 2019

We’re back with another set of similar sounding words with entirely different meanings.

Our illustrious former Henderson Writer’s Group el-presidente, Linda Webber, has been presenting grammar lessons each week on the back of our meeting agendas. The gist of them are the improper use of words.

As a reminder, I’ll add the standard intro below before I get into the word list.


I once wrote a screenplay with my bud, Doug Lubahn, a famous musician. During our correspondence, I once told him I was waiting with “baited” breath instead of “bated” breath. He’s never let me live that one down.

The proper use of words is something a lot of (especially) new writers don’t always get. So, for your reading pleasure, below is a list of words and how to use them properly.

The list is not near complete, so that’s why this is called Grammar Lesson Seven.

Once again, my many thanks to Linda Webber, who has gone through the trouble to compile these words all in one place for me to steal and present to you here at Fred Central.

These are common words that are often used out of context. They can be a quandary for a writer, and a quick trip to a dictionary, or on line.


Loath                          Reluctant, unwilling

She was loath to eat the burger.

Loathe                        To hate

I loathed getting a haircut.

Loose                          To unfasten: To set free

She let the squirrel loose and it scampered off

Lose                            To be deprived of, to be unable to find

If you don’t put your wallet back in your pocket, you’re going to lose it.

Meter                          A measuring device

The gas meter showed a large consumption the past month.

Metre                          A metric unit, rhythm in verse

Carl tried to get the metre of the chorus so he could keep up with the song.

Militate                       To be a powerful factor against

The two parties’ views militate against a common core of reference.

Mitigate                      To make less severe

Because he gave them the location of the loot, that mitigated his sentence to six months instead of a year.

Palate                          The roof of the mouth

The pudding slid smooth against his palate.

Palette                         A board for mixing colors

She dabbed three colored paints together on the palette and created ochre.

Pedal                           A foot-operated lever

Randy had never used a clutch pedal before and when he tried, he stalled the truck.

Peddle                         To sell goods

Oscar peddled dry goods at the fair.

Council                       A group of people who manage or advise

The city council voted on the measure three to one.

Counsel                      Advice, or to advise

I really appreciated my dad’s counsel when I was growing up, though I didn’t show it much.

Cue                             A signal for action or a wooden rod

Stephanie took her cue from the director and hit the stage.

Queue                         A line of people or vehicles

The queue to get in to see the Tut exhibit was over a mile long.

Curb                           To keep something in check or a control or limit

I’ve been told to curb my enthusiasm by my pessimistic friend.

Kerb                           In British English it’s the stone edge of pavement

Sally tripped over the kerb when she crossed the street.

Currant                      A dried grape

My best friend loves currant pie, but I can’t stand it.

Current                      Happening now, or a flow of water, air or electricity

Jack eased the dingy out into the river where the current pushed it further downstream.

Defuse                        To make a situation less tense

The cops came in to defuse the situation, but their uniforms only added to the tension.

Diffuse                                    To spread over a wide area

The dandelion spread in a diffuse pattern over the lawn.


Once again, thanks to Linda Webber for her hard work putting these original words together!

Happy writing!


December 25, 2018

On one of the forums I participate in, someone asked the question about the value of a blog. Apparently, she’s not gained any spectacular results from hers. I’ve had Fred Central going since 2012, and I can attest to that in many ways. My results have been less that spectacular compared to some, and I don’t mind saying so.

You may wonder why I don’t just give up. Why do I spend the $26 a year to keep loading this site with more and more info that relatively few people ever bother to look at? Others seem to put little effort into their sites and get thousands of hits a day.

Several reasons.

I don’t give up easily.

I love to write.

I just don’t give a crap about the numbers.

I HAVE had some positive results in all this effort and that’s all that matters to me.


The main purpose of a web site isn’t necessarily to sell your books as much as to be a central clearing house for information on you, your books and what’s going on. Maybe in the good old days the web site might’ve been the go-to place for the author. However, with the advent of social media, it seems like web sites have gone out of fashion. Sites like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram get much more media scrutiny, as well as other marketing tools.

I can’t swear that my web site has helped me sell any of my books. Not a one. Maybe, but you couldn’t put me on the stand and have me swear to it.

On the other hand, even though my marketing on Facebook seems to have, for the most part, been a dismal failure, I have at least verified some results from that. I’ve verified sales.

I have pages on my site for each of my books. To help market them, I post a weekly snippet about each one, leaving a link on their Facebook page drawing them here. Maybe people read them, maybe not. My stats don’t show either way, at least so far.


Way back when, the technology and the media was different. Every author was encouraged to develop a web site and a blog. That still holds today, but the emphasis on their use might’ve shifted a bit. Some authors don’t have web sites anymore, and just have social media. Others are old school, have no social media at all, and go for a blog. Others have no internet presence at all, and seem to do just fine.

Me, being of the relatively late fledgling internet crowd, as I call it, developed my Word Press web site, and decided to make it multi-purpose. I wanted something I could use for all my different genre books, and also use for my other interests. It would be a central location for my hobbies as well.

A funny thing happened along the way. Over the years, I’ve found my hits on the web site have varied from specific articles on my blog, to my hobby pages.

Yup, sometimes, certain blog articles got all the hits, while at other times, my hobby pages overwhelmed my blog articles.

Go figure.

In any case, my hits are nothing to brag about, but nothing to quit over. I can say it’s nothing in the thousands, like some people I know.

A steady trickle that varies from day to day, week to week, month to month.

I have a steady group of followers. I also follow back a lot of them.

That’s enough to encourage me to keep going. Plus, I have received feedback and results.


Numbers that would discourage most, have no effect on me.



Once in a while, I get feedback. Sometimes it’s direct notes to my web site. Most of the time though, it’s private e-mails or off-had comments face-to-face through people I meet.

Someone read one of these articles here and got something useful out of it.

That, folks, is the reason I’m here.

Plus, some of these articles are re-posted on the newsletter Writer’s Tricks Of The Trade, the quarterly put out by my friend Morgan St. James.

This all means that somehow, somewhere, my blathering about writing is doing some good, having an impact.

That, my friends, is what I’m here for. That, is why I haven’t given up since starting this blog in 2012. That, is why I keep writing about writing.

Happy writing!


December 19, 2018

I originally posted this article in 2015 when Fred Central was only three years old. I was about to publish my first book, Treasure Of The Umbrunna and I received a lot of questions about whether it was going to be a trilogy. Why? Because it was a fantasy and because of Lord Of The Rings, everyone assumed I’d follow that pattern. Nope. Just like with my Gold series and Lusitania Gold, which saw publication in 2017, trilogy has never entered the picture.

This brings up the thought of a series, how long it should be and how to keep it going. The best writers can keep them going (it seems like) forever, while others burn out relatively fast.

Why burn out?

The characters evolve too far.

Below is the original article, tweaked with my latest thoughts, especially since I now have three books under my belt with no sign of stopping.


I think back to when I first joined the Air Force. I was a terrible Airman as far as military bearing. However, I loved being a mechanic, especially when it came to electrical stuff. In fact, I was good enough that my bosses tended to overlook my personal foibles with my wrinkled uniform and ratty hair because I got things fixed. The other side of the coin was that because I got things fixed, and because I had a natural ability with multiple choice tests, I worked myself right out of what I loved doing. In one respect, I shot myself in the foot. On the other hand, I did my body a world of good and though I’m paying for it now with plenty of health issues, it could’ve been worse. The point is that I evolved. That made me think of characters in series that evolve. The intent is well-meaning, but the end result can ruin a good thing.


I think about some of my favorite rock bands. I often loved their first few albums, but then the musicians got bored, or decided to evolve their sound to become more commercial. They changed into something I didn’t like as much. I look at the huge album shelf next to me, as I type this, and see bands with one or two (out of five or more) albums that are great, while the rest are just meh. The thing is, those meh albums are usually their biggest sellers. Go figure. Then again, after those big sellers, the bands faded as musical tastes changed and the groups broke up for various reasons.


TV shows usually have a much shorter shelf life. The first few episodes start with a bang. That’s the thing that attracts audiences to them in the first place. Then, the writers and the audience get bored. Pressure is on to “evolve” the characters, to keep the numbers up. Before long, the show either flops, or becomes way more popular. More often than not, it’ll not be the same animal it was in those first few shows. Once that evolution takes place, it’s make or break time to soar or fizzle out. Shows that stick to a formula seem to last longer. They take a lot of flack for sticking to said formula, but they gain dedicated viewers who stay with them.


I’ve fallen in love with a book series, only to have the characters evolve into something I don’t like anymore. The characters and plotting grow right out of what attracted me in the first place. They become something a far cry from what I read in book one.

The authors run the series dry and move on to something else. Fin. Done.

Maybe it was their plan all along. Maybe the author gets as bored as the audience. Maybe the story arc made the end inevitable, at least to the author.

What if you want the story to live on?


Many readers love and expect characters to evolve. There are others that don’t. I think there’s room for both.

Some people think it’s mandatory to evolve, like there’s some cosmic rule that you have to evolve the characters, or what’s the point, and bla bla bla.

I say bull.

You don’t have to do anything. It’s your world.

Why not be like AC/DC and don’t fix something that isn’t broken?

I have no issue with the character evolving a little. Maybe put in small changes or details along the way, but nothing that requires or forces the character to change character. A natural progression is fine as long as you don’t fix something that isn’t broken – something that’ll kill the series.

There’s no reason a character has to start as A and end up being Z.

In this short attention span world, it’s almost expected characters have to change or the audience gets bored. If we all bend to that, we’re playing right into that mentality.


I’ve always loved the Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt series. Over the decades, he’s written several dozen novels. My beef with Pitt is that the series has been going for so long, Mr. Cussler chose to age Pitt. Instead of keeping him young, and not letting time get in the way of a good story, he threw realism in and gave him age and baggage. Pitt started as the young, dashing hero. Now he has a dead wife, is semi-retired from adventuring, and promoted to director of his organization. His son and daughter do most of the heroics. That’s not exactly what attracted me to the series. I’ve aged right along with him, but though I still enjoy the series, it’s not quite the same. Yet, he still has his detractors who say it’s the same old thing, which is just a case of you can’t win.

On the other hand, the good old pulp stories of Doc Savage never had that issue. Though it’s been several decades since I last read them, I don’t remember Doc evolving all that much. Ken Robeson, AKA Lester Dent, didn’t fix something that wasn’t broke. He wrote 30+ great quick and dirty novels that gave me a great time.

I could list more examples but you get the point.


It’s perfectly fine to evolve your characters if you want to. I do, to some extent, but not enough to limit the series if I want to write a hundred books. You don’t have to either. You don’t have to fix something that isn’t broken. You don’t have to ruin something good. You don’t have to bend to the will of the short attention span crowd. On the other hand, that does buck catering to a wider audience. Then again, there are authors out there cranking out what some call the same old stuff, and they’re doing just fine, like Stuart Woods, JD Robb, and ahem… Clive Cussler, according to his critics (yeah, go figure).

Happy writing!


December 12, 2018

You spend months, maybe even years pouring your imagination and maybe even soul into writing the “great American novel.” I’d never EVER call anything I wrote that, but for some of you, so be it. To me, there’s no such thing. For another, the great American novel sounds not only pretentious, but literary, which to me, means boring. I’d rather say, the best latest and greatest. I say latest and greatest because as soon as you start on the next one, it will become your new latest and greatest.

All the effort on your current novel culminates into a book contract, or, if you’re so inclined, doing it all yourself and going the self-publishing route.

In either case, you go through the editing, proofing, book cover design, back cover blurbs, thank you’s, dedication, author bio, photograph, publicity packets and such. Before you know it, you’re doing publicity packets, which even if you’re self-publishing, you should do.


There’s a last-minute check of the galley, whether it be a printed copy or a .pdf, then it goes to the printer.

Someone is going to post it to all the usual spots on the internet like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and maybe even Wal-Mart.

Before you know it…


You’re a published author!

You can now go to Amazon, type in your name and maybe your book (or list of books) will come up. Depending on how you’re entered into the system, it might take some digging to find your book. Will it pop up under your name, or do you have to type in the title? Will 500 different things come up, even if you select the correct category (books)?

Is your book title unique enough that your novel will show right away?

Or, do you have to type in your name AND the title to get it to display?

Will this be the same deal with other sites?

Once you get the search, how easy will it be for others to find it?


If this is your first book, how do you feel knowing you can go to whatever web site, and see your name in lights?

How does it feel to hold a physical copy of your book in your grubby little hands?

How does it feel to be able to tell other people you’re not just a writer, but an actual published author with a book (or more) under your belt?

For most of us, it feels pretty good!

Does the thrill wear off after a while?

For me, not even a little. It’s not like I hold the book in my hands, jump up and down and scream “I did it, I did it!” I’m just not that guy.

However, I still get a thrill every time I see my name up there with a new release. That means I accomplished something. That means my publisher believed in me enough to follow through with the effort to edit, design a cover and put out a book in MY name, written by ME. My creation (along with help and support of others to get it there, of course), all in the hopes of making a few bucks for both of us.


My number one goal is to write for pleasure. My number two is to write the most enjoyable work I can, which means the writing shouldn’t get in the way of the story. My third is to sell as many books as I can. In a way, these goals are interchangeable.

I’d write whether I was publishing and selling books or not, and did for twenty years. However, the thrill of seeing all that effort out there for the world to enjoy is priceless.

How about you?

Happy writing!


December 5, 2018

I’ve talked about rules quite a bit here at Fred Central. In fact, I’ve pretty much beat them to death. They’ve become my mantra, so to speak. Yet again, throughout all that, I’ve still maintained that they CAN be broken on occasion. It’s not all rigid. Nothing is completely set in stone. However, there are limits.

The other day (as I got this inspiration, anyway), another forum friend, Richie Billing, had a blog article about which are your most hated rules and why. It was quite an interesting article and generated a lot of feedback and he just published the results.

My reply was to go back to why we have rules in the first place. So the writing doesn’t get in the way of the story. It was a bit more elaborate than that, but that’s what it boiled down to. Here, I want to re-emphasize that again.

Thank you, Richie Billing for the inspiration to tag onto your article to go on about rules again!


Many rules of writing came from feedback from readers, consensus amongst scholars, and just plain what makes sense. It’s taken centuries for it all to coalesce into what we accept as the current gibberish we call the English language. It’s been refined and refined, adjusted and tweaked, and styled and processed to become what we see when we open a book today.

The best books do it right.

The worst books suck.

This has nothing to do with whether the stories within said books are great.

It has to do with whether the author is able to convey that story the best way possible.

There are great stories that are almost unreadable.

There are mediocre stories that read great.

There are plenty of “classics” that are almost unreadable by todays standards.

There are also great stories that read great.


It’s all in the writing.


You wonder why we bother with rules?

Some rules may seem stupid, are annoying, or don’t make sense. There IS the possibility someone just threw a rule out there “juss cuz.” Maybe it’s an industry pet peeve, maybe it’s a bias of a certain editor, or even a writer. Maybe it’s just a random thought.

These arbitrary rules are almost universally shut down by scholars and the writing industry.

The hard-core rules, on the other hand, are the ones that keep writing on track and make it easier for readers to read.

As I said above, they didn’t just come out of a vacuum, they were developed over time.


You may have noticed I have not cited a single rule yet. I’ve been talking in general.

I’ve deliberately done that because the main purpose of this article is not to go over them specifically, but to suggest that there ARE reasons to comply with them.

I will give a brief list of a few.

Point of view.


Show not tell.


Prologues and epilogues.

Yup, all the usual stuff, and more.


I have nothing against self-publishing and know a few that have done quite well with it. However, I also know that self-publishing has done no favors to the quality of writing. This is the realm of rule breaking, and it shows.

The prime example is horror. I very rarely get horror in the bookstore, so I’m forced to buy this genre on Amazon. Hence, most of the books are self-published.

Folks, it shows. This is where the authors like to break the rules.

Many of the works have horrendous writing and follow few rules because there’s nobody to monitor them. While the stories may be great, outside of picking third-person, past-tense, which is all I’ll read, many of these authors follow few, if any of the basic rules of writing. The works are poorly, if at all edited. They’re full of just about every rule blunder imaginable. These authors not only don’t follow the rules, they throw them down the toilet.

The writing is not supposed to get in the way of the story.

You’re not supposed to be relieved to get the book overwith, you’re supposed to close the book with a smile on your face, wanting for more.


There are some very popular book series out there that aren’t immune to rule breaking, either. I could cite some that have even been turned into movie series, especially in the young adult and sexual categories. The writing is horrendous. These are the types of novels where I can’t even get past the first page, let alone an entire novel.

These books are with big houses and because they hit hot button topics, they get a free pass. The writing is absolute crap, but to get cheap thrills, they get published for the quick buck, with no integrity whatsoever.

Sure, it happens, but do YOU want your name associated with that?


Rules don’t have to be rigid. They ARE there for a purpose, though. The idea is so that the writing doesn’t get in the way of the story.

They should not make it a struggle for the reader to get to the point!

Many readers don’t consciously even realize they’re struggling with it, but they DO struggle.

When it’s done right, the reader can put down the book and don’t even realize they were reading.

Folks, THAT’S when you’ve done your job.

THAT’S what the rules are for.

The rules can be fudged a bit, but to be completely ignored, or even abused, burdens and forces the reader to work for your story. You shouldn’t be abusing your readers like that.


Do your readers a favor and learn to use the rules the right way.

Happy writing!