Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Latest Story "Where Is The President?" Now on Amazon

My latest story, "Where Is The President?" is now available on Amazon.


Riots. Cities are on fire across the United States. Police are shot and killed by thugs. But the President of the United States is nowhere to be found. Where is he? Why is he silent? And when will he appear again to calm the nation and provide leadership during this time of extreme crisis?

This is the first volume of my National Security Short Story Series. More to come.

My next novel is "Drone Fever" which I expect will take another month or so.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Traditional Versus Self-Publishing Your Books

If there is one giant motivator for self-publishing books rather than trying the traditional route, it's the success stories from writers who hit the jackpot on their own.

Mark Dawson is one of the latest. After his first-self-published book failed, he embarked on a new plan:
“I wanted to put together something that was a bit easier and quicker write and something a bit more contemporary. So I started writing a series about a character called John Milton who’s an assassin.” 
Since Dawson started the John Milton series in June 2013, he has sold 300,000 copies. There are six books in total at around 80 to 90 thousand words per book. Most of which were written when Dawson held down a full-time job and raised two young children.

I've always thought traditional book publishers offered a writer something extremely valuable: instant credibility as an author. If you were backed by an agent and publisher, you must be good. You were now a member of the elite writing establishment. But Publishers Weekly says the "stigma" of self-publishing is a thing of the past:
The view of self-publishing as an outlet of last resort for desperate authors is also changing—the negative stigma that’s long been associated with the industry is being discarded for a more progressive outlook, along with the acknowledgement that self-publishing and traditional publishing can coexist and even benefit one another.

With self-publishing for anyone comes a glutted market and the question of how to stand out in such a large crowd. The ground has shifted radically in just a few years says the New York Times:
For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel. 
Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for. In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million. The number of books on Smashwords, which distributes self-published writers, grew 20 percent last year. The number of free books rose by one-third.
The traditional publishing route is for those who can afford to wait a long time from finished book to its publication--apparently about a year. If you self-publish, you can have it online tomorrow. Books published the traditional way easily find their way onto bookstore shelves, while for self-published authors, that is a rare event--unless you walk in and place your books on the shelves yourself.

I think it would be much easier to get noticed and sell books if I were to become a famous person. Name recognition along the lines of some old-style literary media stars, like Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal, to name 2, er, mediagenic writers of days gone by. Name recognition. Once people know your name, the sales will follow. But in today’s public arena, how does one go about that objective when everybody in all walks of life scream their heads off in an attempt to gain attention? My problem is that I don’t feel such behavior is natural to me and therefore it’s tougher to join in on the fun.

Check out my books:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lawsuit Over 'A Gronking To Remember' Cover Photo

An Ohio couple claims an erotic novel self-published by "Lacey Noonan" included a cover photo of them without their permission. They have filed a lawsuit against the author.

"A Gronking to Remember" is a book about the real-life New England football player Rob Gronkowski--who has publicly read selections from the book several times.

The cover in question is this one at the story from the New York Daily News. This cover photo has been replaced by another on the Amazon website.

The book's copyright page says the cover images are "fully licensed" from iStockPhoto.com and ShutterStock.com. But does this apply to the new cover, the old cover--or both?

According to the complaint (a copy is here):
The photograph of the Plaintiffs contained on the cover of this book constitutes their persona to which the Plaintiffs own a right of publicity for commercial purposes. Plaintiffs never gave written or any other form of consent to the appropriation of their persona.
Thousands of authors are self-publishing their novels on Amazon, Apple iTunes, and Barnes & Noble through services such as Smashwords, and many of them buy photos from stock photo websites to create covers for their books. Are you as an author safe from legal liability if you buy and use photos from websites such as iStockPhoto.com and ShutterStock.com?

Did the photo of the couple come from one of those websites--or from somewhere else on the internet? Who holds the copyright? Under what terms is a writer permitted to legally use it as part of a cover of a book?

It's a story to watch for self-publishing authors concerned with these questions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore And Our Destructive Elected Leaders

I keep saying the wrong people are freely and gleefully voted into positions of power and authority by the citizenry, and right on cue, the moron Mayor of Baltimore arrives on the scene.

From The Daily Beast: The Baltimore Mayor Gave Permission to Riot:
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stood before the news cameras over the weekend and really did say, “We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.”

She took the side of thugs and criminals over the police, residents (who voted her into office), and business owners. She ordered police to stand down and watch. One of the buildings destroyed was a church effort help poor seniors.

From the Washington Post:
A senior citizen’s housing project under construction in a particular desolate corner of East Baltimore was burned to the ground.
If Mayor Rawlings-Blake wanted to give the thugs "room to destroy," why didn't she bus them over to her house?

President Obama, once again, let the entire country down by not making any public statements about the violence, eager to distance himself. He did however speak to the Maryland Governor, and counseled him to exercise "due restraint." In other words, let the thugs riot and tell the cops to do nothing about it. Obama's silence at critical moments of unrest isn't a coincidence.

The moral of the story is that citizens are voting into office the ones who hate them and are working against them and their best interests. These creatures who hold the levers of power didn't elect themselves. The citizens were tricked into voting for them and believing they would govern with their best interests in mind.

As I've said, the politicians of this country are at war with the citizens. Before Obama, what president could you rightly say identified with criminals?  And there are many more just like Obama and the Baltimore Mayor that haven't made the evening news yet.

Where will the next episode take place? Philadelphia? Cleveland? Memphis? Stay tuned.

Monday, April 27, 2015

American Sniper Movie Canceled But What About The Book?

Colleges and universities were once beacons of free speech and diversity of opinion, but that must've been a long time ago.

The latest assault on free speech is the cancellation of the movie "American Sniper" at several colleges, including the University of Maryland, Eastern Michigan University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. This doesn't include the campuses where the film was protested while shown.

From the Huffington Post:
"I consider veterans and our military to be the real terrorists," Umraan Syed, president of the Illinois school's Muslim Student Association, wrote on its Facebook page.
From Breitbart:
The Muslim Students Association at the University of Maryland started a petition requesting that the school pull the screening of American Sniper. In the petition, the group stated that the film “perpetuates the spread of Islamaphobia and is offensive to many Muslims around the world for good reason.”
After all the criticism Maryland received over this, apparently the movie will now be shown May 4.

The movie "American Sniper" is based on the bestselling book, "American Sniper"

The libraries at the colleges showing the movie own the book. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 libraries (college, public, government, corporate) across the US own copies as well. I'm wondering if Muslims outraged by the movie plan protests at 3,000 libraries, or if the libraries will withdraw the book if anyone complains about it.

The library profession makes a big deal every year of promoting the list of books that were once banned somewhere at some time for whatever reason. I haven't heard if the movie industry publishes a similar list.

The lack of respect for differing opinions isn't restricted to just a movie on a few campuses, but is endemic throughout colleges. 9 out of every 10 professors is a political liberal. Students are admitted into colleges based on race (and the right one at that!) rather than test scores and such.

Who restores free speech and intellectual diversity to colleges, and rids them of the plague of political correctness? Certainly not the presidents and administrators of the most respected institutions, such as the Ivy League schools, which seem more the problem than the solution.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Top Colleges Bypass Old White Male Shakespeare

The most prestigious colleges in the US no longer require English majors to take a course focusing on Shakespeare, considered the greatest writer the language has ever known.

The news is contained in a report, "The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile 2015."

English chairs at several top universities responded to the Washington Post by rationalizing the slight to the old white bard. A requirement wasn't needed since many students take a Shakespeare course anyway.
Yale and others are also obliged to cover the full diversity of English literature, including writers with origins in Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia.
The report's lead author answered:
“If you’re serious about something and find it of great importance, then you require it,” he said. “You don’t leave it to chance. You don’t leave it to whim.”
Said the Chairman at Yale's English Department:
“I don’t think you want to fetishize Shakespeare, or anyone else,” he said.
An interesting choice of words, since much has been made of the kind of English courses students may take instead of Shakespeare, such as Penn's "Gender, Sexuality, and Literature: Our Cyborgs, Ourselves." Or Swarthmore's "Renaissance Sexualities." Or Cornell's "Love and Ecstasy: Forms of Devotion in Medieval English Literature."

From the National Review:
Another part is political, involving academia's devaluing of Western classics and its hostility to anything white, male, or old, adjectives that supposedly mean irrelevant and ethnocentric.
Head-scratching decisions like this one can only cause rational bystanders to question the judgment and motivation of those running universities these days. If all the cars of the US College Train derail, who will set them right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Killer Robots And How To Protect Yourself

The United Nations has just held a conference to determine if killer robots violate the laws of war and should perhaps be banned.

The organization behind the anti-robot initiative is the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots. Among their supporters are Human Rights Watch and Code Pink--Left and Way Left of the political center.

I must confess I was unaware the technology behind killer robots had progressed to the point that the United Nations feels it must decide if android assassins should be banned.

The crucial issue seems to be that a killer robot "pulls the trigger" and decides for itself who should die without human assistance, while a killer drone, for example, kills by way of a remote pilot "pulling the trigger" for the drone. It seems arguable that a robot can never kill without human intervention, as its killer programming was created by a human. Who's to blame if a robot kills an innocent person? The incompetent programmer, obviously!

You can no more ban killer robots than you can keep guns out of the hands of criminals. They are marching forward and there is no stopping them.

I can provide much-needed assistance to the United Nations by listing those who should be prevented from acquiring and using killer robots:

  • The United Nations (reference: UN killer "peacekeepers")
  • Rogue regimes
  • Terrorists
  • Criminals

We need to keep the killer robots out of the hands of terrorists. ISIS is popular among the world's Muslims. Many thousands travel to places like Syria from all over the world to join. And millions more give them moral/financial support. Imagine ISIS with a million killer robots. Or Kim Jong-un with an army of android assassins.

Prominent actors on the world stage like to claim "global warming" is the biggest threat the world faces. Politics aside, no one knows what is the "biggest" threat to the world but we are aware of many of the contenders:

  • Terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda
  • Rogue regimes with nuclear bombs
  • Plagues/Viruses
  • Killer Asteroids possibly striking the earth (climate change indeed!)
  • An invasion by aliens from outer space
  • Incompetent politicians
  • Killer Ideologies (100M+ killed by 20th Century Socialism--Soviet, Mao, Nazi)

Killer robots didn't make the list but may be added within the next decade.

A Citizen's Guide To Protecting Yourself From Killer Robots

How can you protect yourself from a killer robot? You are an innocent person but perhaps you are in danger of assassination by a robot anyway. Here is some good advice (Keep this list in a handy place so you can refer to it when necessary):

  • Flee
  • Hide so the robot can't find you or even get at you
  • Hack/jam his programming so it is left unable to do anything 
  • Acquire your own robot bodyguard to protect you from killer robots (advice primarily for the wealthy) 
  • Shoot the robot with whatever will kill him--bullets, RPG, IED
  • Set a trap for the robot, perhaps a hidden pit, where he is caught and can't get out
  • Change your appearance so the robot doesn't recognize you