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March 28, 2018

With the big boom in self-publishing and the advent of many small presses, as it stands right now, one would think that things should be looking up for the independent author. For years, that’s been the case. For so long, the big six had the industry locked up and if you didn’t get in with a traditional publisher, you’d never see your book in print unless you went to a vanity publisher.

Because of the independent entrepreneurial spirit, small presses, on-demand, and early Amazon, the whole nature of publishing changed. Traditional publishers were put on notice. However, it wasn’t no cakewalk to get published with traditional before, and that still hasn’t changed much despite the shift toward independent publishing.

With the market for self-publishing and small presses, a whole new avenue has opened up the past few decades. The world is now flooded with thousands upon thousands of new books, from great to unprintable (but still printed anyway) tomes of every description.


Things started slow, then worked up until most recently, it’s become pretty easy to get your book out. It’s still up to you to make it worthy, but that doesn’t stop some people. As a result, there’s plenty of buyer beware out there. On the other hand, the only avenue for finding this stuff, good or bad, is either word-of-mouth, out of the trunk of the author’s car, or on-line (basically Amazon, though there’s also Create Space and a few others if you know what you’re doing).


Just this past few weeks, we got the news that Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy (well, it was a while ago), and they were going to close even more stores. Then, all of a sudden, they up and decided to just screw it, close it all!

The day after we heard that, my wife and I went out to dinner and decided to hit Barnes & Nobel a day earlier than normal. Now, it’s no secret that B&N has been having their issues as well. We’ve all heard the usual “Sales were not as well as expected” mantra every store yells to the heavens every single year around Christmas time, even if they sell every single item in their store. Well, through overexpansion, corporate stockholder greed, whatever the case, B&N is in trouble and of course, they’re putting the blame directly on Amazon, whether justified or not. Maybe the real culprit is their stockholders are not seeing enough return on their investment and are dumping stock. Who knows? Maybe B&N should’ve remained private, if they ever were, and none of this would’ve happened. Whatever the case, the rumors persist that they may not be around by 2019.

So…my wife and I hit B&N after dinner and walk into the store and see inventory tags on all the shelves. Aaagh! What’s going on? After shopping, when I paid for my book, I asked the clerk what’s going on. He’s, of course, a brand new guy and as far as he knew, it was just inventory and not a closing issue, but he wasn’t sure. They wouldn’t tell a minimum wage new hire anyway, but hey, had to ask.

Maybe it was just inventory, but it was hard not to panic.

Since then, we’ve been back, the inventory tags are gone, and the store seems to be back to normal. At least we hope!


Personally, I don’t do a lot of shopping on line. Sure, I use Amazon, for instance, when I can’t get something in the local store. However, I like to touch and feel the item first, before I buy. You can’t do that on Amazon.

On the other hand, a retail store can’t possibly stock every obscure item you could possibly want.

There’s a tossup here, when you think about it.

Then again, if it’s in the store, I’ll pay a bit more to grab it off the shelf and take it with me rather than save a few bucks to order it on line. That’s just me. I don’t think I save that much getting it on line. Plus I take the risk of having it stolen off my porch.


I keep hearing that if you self-publish, or even traditionally publish and try to work any special deals with Amazon, they’re starting to impose more and more rules and twists and deals and regulations and whatever.

In other words, they’re putting up barriers to business for what used to be a free-for-all for the independent businessman and woman.

What does this mean?


I’ve also been hearing rumblings that Create Space, the main source for many self-published books is closing down on-demand. Or, they’re restricting the use or something. I’m not sure the whole deal so please do the proper research before taking what I say as gospel. However, just having the rumor around is enough to make one wonder.

Another barrier?


Will we soon see the day when and if retail stores go away because of Amazon, at least due to everyone blaming them as a generalization for “on line,” that soon it will be just as difficult to get self-published as it is to get traditionally published?

Could we one day see that time when authors will struggle just as much as they did thirty years ago to get their book to the public?

Will the nature of the struggle, though be a bit different, result in the same frustrating thing as traditional publishing?

To get traditionally published, it may be the same cycle of rejection for ten, twenty, thirty years as it ever was.

On the other hand, the former, much easier to get self-published route might turn into a cycle of monetary versus endless regulations and rules and peer reviews and who knows what to get that book printed.

We might end up right back at square one if Amazon and others like them keep going.

Just a thought.

Still and always, happy writing!



March 21, 2018

When you’re a writer like me, and no, I’m not saying all of you are like me, I’m always thinking. I’ll admit my mind’s quite a bit in La La Land. I don’t mean “Ellay,” Los Angeles, Hollywood, or whatever you want to call that La La Land. I’m in my own La La Land, which is my dream world, where I come up with all this stuff that goes into my stories.


Since I’m considered a “pantser,” in other words, a “seat-of-the-pants” writer instead of an outliner, I start with knowing A and B and everything in-between is an adventure. In other words, it’s a total surprise that develops as I write. My path to success is that I write so linear, I rarely get myself into a plot issue because I always have B in mind. I’m always working toward that point, so everything I dream (or La La Land) up, is working toward that goal.

I’ve mentioned this numerous times here at Fred Central. I get my inspirations from just about everywhere. It may be the most innocuous thing that strikes my fancy, or something profound. Whatever the case, I catalog that in the back of my brain, or maybe if it’s something I don’t need for a good while, it becomes an addition to one of my post-it notes above my computer monitor. It’s to the point now that a few of my post it notes have the sticky dried up and they’re now falling off, so I have them stacked on the computer tower.


Though I’m pretty set with Detach And His Search For Gold, with six manuscripts in the can, that doesn’t mean I don’t have room for more. In fact, I started number seven (West Virginia Gold), but got sidetracked with the first Meleena’s Adventures, so number seven of the Gold series languishes with just a few chapters.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas lingering for further adventures. I’ve just saved my energy for more immediate priorities, at the moment. In fact, I came up with a great premise for book number eight tonight at dinner with friends. We’ll see if that one ever comes to fruition.

I’m currently done editing with the publisher on Gods Of The Blue Mountains, book number two of the Meleena’s Adventures series. Though that’s not the end of the process, I’m also writing book three and reading it to my writer’s group. Right now, my focus is on Meleena and my readers are screaming for more of her.

While I’ve had the basic concept for the fourth Meleena story in the back of my head for almost a year now, last night (as I write this), I finally came up with a conclusive A and B. It just happened. It’s not completely refined, but it’s there.

Keep in mind that A and B will never be written down beforehand. I never have and never will. The basic concept will be in my head and stay there until I sit down and start the book. It’ll never be an outline. What it will be is Chapter One and The End, when I get to them.

As for the Gold series? West Virginia Gold also has A and B in the can. I’ve had occasional ideas for further adventures (including the one I just came up with tonight), but they can wait, since I already have five other completed rough manuscripts.


Now that I have the big picture for the fourth Meleena story, I can let it sit for a while, move on to other things.

You may ask, well…some of you…what about other novels? What about one-offs, or short stories, or whatever? Another series?

Don’t worry. That could very well happen as well. If the muse strikes, I’ll catalog that in the back of my head as well, and save it for a future date.

I just need the time to do it all.

That’s the problem with any writer!

Happy writing!


March 14, 2018

I recently did a radio forum (interview) with author, entrepreneur and radio host James Kelly. He hosts the web site Aspects of Writing out of Henderson, Nevada. I had an absolutely wonderful experience as a last-minute guest.

I’ve talked about interviews in several articles here at Fred Central. Now, I have several videos under my belt as well as a phone interview. This forum was set up in such a way that I was a panelist and was able to give advice similar to what I do here, but at the same time was also interviewed as part of the setup to a forum on writing.

Two for one!


James Kelly was a guest speaker at one of our Henderson Writer’s Group meetings, which I attend every Monday evening. He gave an excellent presentation and afterward, I thought it would be a hoot to be a volunteer guest on his show. Later that evening, with one of his cards in hand, I e-mailed him and volunteered my services and gave him this web site and told him about all my articles and my platform on writing.

I soon got a call and he asked me if I could do a last-minute show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it that weekend. However, we kept in touch.

That was almost a year ago. At that time, I was under the impression we’d choose one of the subjects I talked about in my articles and took it from there.

Anyway, I kept in touch with him all this time.


I’d just sent him an e-mail to say hello and he asked me if I was available for another cancellation. This time I was. I asked him about subject matter and he already had a script and everything. I go “as script?” Yup. I didn’t know that he plans these shows out ahead of time so when he calls in for his guests, he already knows what he wants to talk about. We don’t choose out subjects. He does the research on us first and decides the subject matter.

That’s okay with me.

I happened to fill a gap with the subject Writing With The Character In Mind.

Cool. I can do that!


I followed his directions and went to his studio, which was set up in a conference room in an office building in Henderson, Nevada. It was upstairs and since the building was deserted on this Sunday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves.

I met our cohost, Janet Coursey, and we had a nice chat while James set up the audio and tried to get the video link going with the other author on the show, John Brage from Kansas City, Missouri. It took a bit to get the kinks worked out of the audio with John. This is something that pops up occasionally with any home-brew radio pre-recording setup. I must say that given this is on James’ own dime, it was very professionally done and the final results are quite good.


We first started in with mini-interviews about our writing and books and James switched between me, John and Janet and a little about himself and then we went into the subject of character. It was a lively discussion and we had a great time.

In the end, we all got to have our say and it actually went a little over. James will surely cull the best moments to cut it down to the proper time limit for the final product, which was an hour according to the video final result.

We were also being taped on camera as well. I was pretty much ignoring the camera, however I was looking at the computer screen with John on it, when talking to him. This took my face away from my mike, which made my voice dim at times. James had to tell me to talk into the mike a few times so I’m sure he had work to do to clean up my audio so I could be heard properly. There were also a few glitches with the audio feed from John’s end over the line from Kansas City.


Overall, it was a fun interview and panel discussion. I got to plug my books. Not just Lusitania Gold but also Treasure Of The Umbrunna and got to talk about writing in general. It was a fun afternoon. The results can be heard through this link at

James’ web site is

Happy writing!



March 7, 2018

I recently had a very successful book signing. As part of the buildup and marketing campaign to that book signing, I once again turned to Facebook to try their advertising.

I recently posted the article, Reaching Readers On Facebook, telling you about the experience. Now that the book signing is over, I want to go over the actual results of the advertising campaign. Though I’m dread to use foretelling in novels, here, I can. The results weren’t pretty.


As a quick reminder, for those that are new to this site, last year, when Lusitania Gold first came out, I spent a lot of money on Facebook publicity around the book launch. At the same time, I also plugged my previous published novel, Treasure Of The Umbrunna. The total outlay was over $100 and included my ad to first the West Coast, then the entire You Ess And A and finally the western half of Europe.

The result? Plenty of hits (several hundred), a few engagements, three or four comments, one of them nasty (stop sending me ****ing spam), and zero sales.


In my latest article, Reaching Readers On Facebook, I only blasted the local Las Vegas area and a fifty mile radius that included Henderson, Boulder City, Pahrump, Indian Springs, etc.

I spent a total of $21. According to their statistics, I reached 322 people.

  1. I got 39 likes, 3 from people I know, 1 from a friend in Holland.
  2. 0 feedback.
  3. 2 shares.
  4. When I personally commented on the promo, THAT generated a few separate comments and likes from friends that already subscribe to my site. However, that was on the separate pages that those comments created (go figure).When I did my book signing at Barnes & Noble, not a single person that bought a book or showed up and talked to me were ones that found me from the Facebook advert.Let me be clear. I had a very successful book signing. I personally sold nine books and that same day, someone bought three other copies but somehow missed having me sign them. To me, that’s a killer day! However, unless one of those three that slipped in a bought without contacting me were Facebook people, I still have to mark my campaign off as a big fat ZERO. FAIR WARNINGON THE OTHER HANDHowever, to draw in new readers, it leaves a lot to be desired.Once they know you and like you is one thing…A BIG issue.
  5. Happy writing!
  6. Drawing them in is still an issue.
  7. I’m just saying.
  8. I do most of my news and events through Facebook with my two sites for the books. In that regard, it works well. I also still use my (this) web site. Facebook is a great communicator for letting people know what’s going on. In that respect, it works well to get immediate info to fans.
  9. If you’re contemplating using Facebook advertising, all I can say is buyer beware. It may work for some people, but so far, I’ve batted a solid zero after using it twice.
  10. My book signing was a success, it just didn’t have anything to do with Facebook or my $21.
  11. My $21 resulted in a big fat ZERO.
  12. The final result?


February 28, 2018

I’ve talked a lot about what I think is good and bad writing, at least from my perspective. I’ve talked about making your readers having to suffer to get through what may be a good story, or glide right through without ever realizing they’re even reading.

How about those times when you read a book and it makes you want to sit down and write? Or, sit down and write more?

Have you ever read a book and loved it so much it inspired you to write something?

Something new?

Revamp what you were already writing?

Plug on, confirming what you already were doing, but with more enthusiasm?


Because of my fantasy novels, I’m so used to spelling magical as magickal I had to think twice with that title! There are certain authors and certain stories that I glide through without effort. There are others I have to work a bit. Then there are others that I have to suffer to get through.

Since I’m part of the buying public, I like to spend my money wisely, therefore I also like to bet on a sure thing. Therefore, I often stick to authors I know are going to give me what I expect.

Like AC/DC, these authors aren’t out to fix something that isn’t broke. Usually. There have been a few that did and they lost me. On the other hand, most stick with a style and they keep me as a fan.

On the other hand, there are always the doldrums, times when none of my favorite authors have new books, and I troll the shelves looking for something new.

By discovering new authors, I run across plenty of duds. Sometimes I discover new ones and run across those magical stories. There are those rare novels that are so well written and the stories so great that I go…



I have to put this in the right context. There are certain writers that always hit that magical spot. They’re consistent. It’s when I find a new author that does it that’s especially magical. Then, I get more inspired.

What do I do?

I certainly don’t try to copy them.

What it does is make me try even harder to make my stories great. It doesn’t make me want to drop what I’m doing and start something new.

What these magical stories to for me is inspire me to write even more of what I’m already doing. It makes me allot more time to create and work on what I’m currently working on.

That, folks, is what it does for me. It gives me more enthusiasm to continue with my own creations.

It does not influence the style of what I’m doing.

It does not influence the actions of what I’m doing.

It does not influence the characters, the scenes, the language or the locations.


I have to say up front that in the beginning, what I just said is exactly the opposite of what happened when I had those magic moments. Back in the day, when I first started writing, books by Clive Cussler, Lester Dent (Kenneth Robeson), Franklin W. Dixon, Mark Twain, just to name a few all had influence on my writing and style. As a developing writer, those magical moments inspired me to a great extent.

However, twenty plus years into this, my perspective has changed.

Now, when I read a really great and inspiring novel, when it hits the spot, it’s a bit different. My inspiration comes from a different place. The influence is not in the manner of characters or places or things, but of magic. It comes from the writer being able to keep the reader from suffering to get there.


When a writer hits the spot, it’s now a combination of factors that inspire me. The way they write, how they present the story and how they pull it off in the end.

How I feel when I close the book.

Am I left with a big smile on my face?

Am I wanting for more, or am I relieved it’s over?

Am I heading for the bookstore, or going on line to see when the next book comes out? Or, am I scratching this author off the list or adding him or her to the “avoid at all costs” list?

If everything is positive, when I next open up my Word file, I flex my fingers, go to where I last left off and feel pretty good about what I want to do next. That’s where I’m at.

How about you?

Happy writing!


February 20, 2018

Wow, how time flies. April isn’t far off and it’ll be the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference time again. Since I’ve been going every year since 2005, this will be my 13th conference in a row. In a way, this is like my Christmas time of year. Since writing is more of a passion – a calling for me rather than a hobby, just like astronomy, I look at it the same way as my star parties when we go out to remote dark sites to observe the stars. I don’t expect most of you to look at the upheaval of your life and the expense of such a thing in the same way. That’s why I write a fresh approach to the same subject year after year here at Fred Central.

I know many of you have no desire to scroll through the 200+ articles I’ve written on the subject of writing craft, though I’d love it if you did! In that case, you’d find probably a dozen articles on writer’s conferences. To save you the time, especially for those new to my site, I’m presenting it fresh for you today (well, this is 2017’s article, tweaked). For those of you that have been around awhile and haven’t attended a conference, maybe it’s time and I can talk you into attending.


There are many reasons to attend a writer’s conference. One of them is to learn the craft. Our conference is made up of training sessions that go on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each session covers various subjects that deal with writing, pitching, marketing, publishing, editing and everything you need to hone your skills. Folks, this is the meat of what you need to succeed at this passion/hobby/business. These sessions are held by experts in the field. This is the time to get first-hand knowledge, ask questions and learn valuable stuff you might never learn in an easier way.

This year, there will be an extra day, Sunday, where Jane Friedman is holding a workshop on The Art And Business Of The Author Platform. This workshop costs extra but it’s an intimate session, a one-on-one time with the master, who’s also the keynote speaker Saturday night.


You’ll never find a more concentrated gathering of like-minded people, plus experts in one gathering. You not only get to talk to other writers, you get to mingle with publishers, agents, editors and marketers. You’ll hang out with them and pick their brains. You’ll have meals with them, chat them up in the halls between sessions, talk to them in the main room between events or just hang by the front desk and grab whoever walks by. Folks, this is the golden opportunity.


If you have something ready to pitch, or even if you just want to practice, this is the place for you. The event is set up so you can schedule pitch sessions with the various agents and publishers. This is your chance to plug your story and see if they’re interested. There’s nothing better than face-to-face with an agent, rather than an anonymous letter or e-mail. I’ve had 100% success rate getting their attention, even if I’ve ultimately had 100% success rate at getting rejected. On the other hand, I obtained a step up over others in that these agents and publishers had a familiar face to attach to my work. I also obtained success in finding my publisher at this event, though not through the normal pitching process (a different story). At other conferences, often you have to pay separately to pitch to an agent. Here, that’s all part of the fee. Also, because of the limited attendance, you almost always have the ability to pitch to every agent you want to.


We keep hearing over and over that the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference is one of the best in the nation. In fact, the Self-Publishing Mastery – The Independent Writer’s Home called our conference one not to be missed in 2018 and we came in at number three. That’s not a bad endorsement!

Because it’s smaller and more intimate, it’s a more quality event. We attract a quality staff and quality people. It pays for what most get out of it and we get lots of repeat attendees. I highly recommend it.

You can check it out at:

Happy writing!


February 14, 2018

I think I’ve talked about this before and the success, or rather lack of it I’ve had by using Facebook to market my books, at least so far.

First off, the inspiration for this article came from multiple sources. On one of the Facebook forums, someone asked the question (in so many words), what’s the one thing you like the least about writing, or what thing about writing gives you the most stress.

My answer was simple. “Nothing, except marketing.”

That’s not exactly what I said, but something like that.

I love everything about writing, from sitting down at the computer with a fresh idea, to editing the “mess” in the end and making it a final product, to tweaking the back cover blurb. I love it all.


Begging for people to buy it. That’s kind of how I feel a lot of the time when it comes to busking these stories to the public.


Since I’m not a full-time author who is making money hand-over-fist, or is retired and has the luxury of being able to drop everything to go off on book tours, or can afford to hire publicity teams, I have to rely on the down and dirty ways to push my book. For the most part, I’m restricted to the Las Vegas area and what I can do on line.

Facebook seems, or seemed like a great potential possibility.

Well, at least it did until I tried it and seen what it’s done for others.


With the advent of e-book sales and a new book launch, I invested a sizeable amount (over $100) into a publicity blast for both of my current novels on Facebook. I blasted first the west coast states, and then the entire You Ess And A. Then, I even blasted the UK, Ireland, Germany, Holland, France and Spain.

I have Facebook pages for both my books and of course, an author page on Amazon as well as both books not only on Amazon, but Barnes & Noble, Create Space and on my publisher’s web site, Mystic Publishers.

In a nutshell, given my rather meager income and what I invested in this publicity blast, I at best, generated a modest amount of likes to both my Facebook book pages, zero reviews and little sales as a result. I found out when I got my latest royalty check.

I did get one nasty note from some guy saying not to harass him with spam.

Ever since I did my publicity blast, my slow-but-steady hit rate on both of my Facebook book sites has remained about the same as before and after. In other words, outside of a slight tweak in numbers, my rate of hits on either page has remained almost unchanged.

I do get steady hits here and there. When I post something, my hits go up, then die off to an occasional like or new click. When I just did a recent promotion for my upcoming book signing on 24 February, I got more hits, but ran across another “maybe” complication, which I’ll explain further down.


Lately, more than before, I’m getting more and more author book blasts. I politely click “like” on them to help them out, but only if the book really intrigues me do I ever take it further. If the books are something in a genre I’d actually read, sure, I’ll dig deeper, but so far, none of them have been anything I read. I’m all for stuff that I’m interested in. On the other hand, if I have to order it on line, and not find it in a bookstore, I have to hesitate, because I much prefer to touch it and feel it before I buy. On the other hand, that’s not to say I won’t buy it on line. I only read paper books but save for mass on-line orders of those books and don’t do it that often.

Unfortunately, that’s my own predicament with my book. It’s not in stores because I’m under a small publisher. I can well understand why others may be just as reluctant to purchase my book when they can’t go down to the local bookstore and find it on the shelf.

So, I see an increasing amount of book blasts on Facebook and I do check each and every one of them out and like them all, even if I’m not interested in the actual book. I believe in supporting all authors, at least initially. However, I have yet to purchase any that I’ve seen on Facebook simply because they’re not my genres. Maybe one day.


As I said above, I’m having a book signing coming up at the local bookstore. For that, I invested in a local Las Vegas/Henderson/Boulder City blast, specific to just those three cities (a fifty mile radius). I was hoping to generate some interest. Then, it’d be up to me once they show up at the store.

The result so far was not something I could’ve predicted, given what happened before.

I got this warning that I “wasn’t reaching enough people because my image contained too much text.”

Say what?

It’s a frigging book, for crying out loud! It has a title and my name! How am I supposed to display the book cover without the title and name? What’s up with Facebook and some arbitrary stupid rule about too much text in the image?

After much research I found out that “supposedly,” book covers are exempt from this rule. I mean, I get blasted with book adverts full of book covers all the time. Somehow they’re circumnavigating this rule all the time. I figure I’m okay, but I still keep getting this warning. Is it affecting my reach?

As of today, as I edit and post this, which is still pretty early in the game, I’ve reached 276 people and engaged 31. I’ve got 31 clicks, 26 likes and 3 comments and 2 shares. Folks, that’s some activity so I can’t complain, but it’s blasting to supposedly several million people. I’ve spent $25 to run it until the 24th. I don’t know how Facebook limits who they send it to, or if that image limitation is really exempt.


Facebook could and should be a great marketing tool yet it isn’t. At least not for everyone.

For the small-time author, it’s a real struggle. With the potential to reach millions, we’re lucky to reach tens, or so it seems. We may be reaching a lot more than that, but getting a reaction from them is like getting blood out of a turnip, and no apologies for the cliché. No matter how well written, how good our graphics are, when you’re an unknown and don’t have a book on the shelf, you have an uphill struggle. It’s hard for any amount of money or blasting to overcome that. Plus, Facebook is a big mystery as to how they really function and whether they’re worth the bother.

I wish I knew the magic key to fixing all that without going broke.

Happy writing!