Daily Archives: January 28, 2015

Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Making Authors Dreams Come True

I enjoyed this post by Children’s Author Sue Shanahan so much that I wanted to reblog it.

Commonplace Grace

Reading By Lake
It’s become popular these days to badmouth Amazon, but I happen to love Amazon and their CEO, Jeff Bezos, in particular. They are what made it possible for me, a 59-year-old author/illustrator, to share her books with the world. After my children’s picture book apps found an audience, I longed to see them in print. I submitted them to countless publishers and agents and most times never even received a rejection letter. Self-publishing was the only avenue left to get my stories into kids’ hands. Upon discovering the astronomical costs of that, my dream seemed doomed.
Choose yourself!  James Altucher
I thought having my apps made into books was hopeless until I heard an interview with author Hugh Howey. I learned that after being unable to find a publisher, he self-published his best seller, Wool, through Amazon. He explained that Amazon has partnered with print-on-demand company, CreateSpace…

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My Quest to See All of This Year’s Oscar Nominated Movies

I’ve been talking a lot about movies lately.  You might as well start calling this blog “Movieshelf Battle.”  But what can I say?  I do love books.  But I also have movies.  And whether it is in a book or on the screen, a story is a story.

Here’s the list of this year’s 2015 Oscar Nominees:

American Sniper – Saw it.  Check out my review here.

Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Haven’t seen it.  As a former Batman, Michael Keaton plays a role he knows something about – that of an actor known for playing a superhero, and what happens to him in the film I’m not sure.  But I do love superheroes and was a fan of Keaton’s 1989 Batman, so I’ll have to check it out.

Boyhood – I’ve rented it but have yet to watch it.  People who have tell me that the story itself is pretty blah, but the idea of filming a child actor at different stages of his life (as opposed to having different kids play the character at different ages, which is what Hollywood usually does) is very unique and creative.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Eh.  I’ve never been a huge Wes Anderson fan.  I love comedies.  Sometimes I think he might try too hard.  Other times I watch something like Hangover 3 and think that maybe Hollywood NEEDS to try harder when it comes to comedy.  It is nice to see a comedy in the best picture list though.  That rarely happens.  The late 1990’s As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson was the last Oscar recognized comedy that I can remember.

The Imitation Game – I have seen it!  I owe you a review!  In fact, I’m a little disappointed in myself for reviewing The Boy Next Door before The Imitation Game.

Selma – Haven’t seen it.  Been meaning to.  Looks good.  Lots of history.  Good for the historical record for this important time in U.S. history to be recorded on film.

The Theory of Everything – I’m glad Stephen Hawking got his own biopic.  He does more with a wheelchair and a keyboard than most able bodied people do all day.  Yet to see it.

Whiplash – Never seen it.  Has to something to do with a drummer who wants to learn to drum and receives help from a guy who is like some kind of drumming drill sergeant.  I’ll try to see it.

Anyway, those are the nominees.  My main complaint?  I wish they’d space these out over the year, rather than come out all at the same time.  But I suppose that’s the strategy – open them in a few theaters in December so they count as 2014 movie, then release them everywhere in January so people are talking about these movies come Oscar time.

I’m going to try my best to see and review them all before the Oscars.  Doubt I’ll make it, but let’s see what happens.  If you have reviews or comments about these movies, feel free to comment away.

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Don’t Forget to Bring a Towel…

“A towel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

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Romance Writers of Australia discuss a German Indie Author’s Amazon Algorithm Experiment – lots of good info for those wondering how this all works.

Romance Writers of Australia

Matthias Matting runs the German blog The Self Publisher’s Bible. In an attempt to determine what is myth and what is reality with regard to how Amazon’s sales algorithms work, and how sales ranking is determined, he ran a small experiment on Amazon’s German website with the help of 90 volunteers.

His principle objective was to determine if any of these three points was dominant in influencing sales ranking:

  1. Price
  2. Enrolment in KDP Select
  3. Organic sales

You can read more about his experiment here, but in summary, he uploaded four titles with two different price points (0.99 Euro and 2.99 Euro). Then he bought one copy of each book to get a sales rank for the books. Finally he asked his 90 volunteers to either buy the book or, if they were KindleUnlimited users, to read at least 10% of the book they downloaded.

Matthias summarises his findings…

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Movie Review – Wild (2014)

Good movie…in case you missed it.

Bookshelf Battle


“Cheryl Strayed.”  That’s not only the name of the author of the book Wild, on which the recent movie is based, but it is also the synopsis of the story.

Cheryl was no stranger to hardship.  As a child, she and her mother suffered at the hands of an abusive alcoholic father.  But Cheryl’s mother moved her family away to a farm, where they set up an idyllic life.  At the start of the film, Cheryl and her mother are attending college together – Cheryl doing so after high school while her mother decides to go for her degree later in life.

Alas, the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans.  At age 45, Cheryl’s mother is stricken with cancer and dies.  Cheryl is left to make her own way and does not adjust to the change well.  She cheats on her…

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Apple Spellchecker

Apple has the most ridiculously aggressive spellchecker in the world, to the point where I feel like it is the equivalent of an eighty-year old nun whacking my knuckles with a ruler every time I intentionally write a misspelled or made up word – which, as an aspiring sci-fi author, I NEED TO DO!

Anyone ever experience this?  Any advice?

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Poetry Shelf Battle – Invictus

Just reblogging some of my older stuff, now that a few more people than my Aunt Gertrude are reading.

Bookshelf Battle

The Bookshelf Battle Shelf is not a place for the feint of heart. Just the other day I saw The Grapes of Wrath give an uppercut to War and Peace over a prime piece of real estate on the bookshelf. All the other books looked on in horror.

Yet, despite all the chaos, once in awhile I find some time to put some poetry on the shelf. Whenever I feel down, this is a poem that helps me feel better:


By: William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet…

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