Ripped from the headlines – Drug Cartels, Walls, Tunnels and Nike’s Wings

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ripped from the headlines – Drug Cartels, Walls, Tunnels and Nike’s Wings

I started writing Nike’s Wings with an image in my mind of a woman with a tattoo of wings on her back. As a pantser – someone who writes from the seat of her pants – I had no idea what her story was. I just knew I wanted to know why she had had the tattoo, especially since a tattoo that size would have been pretty painful to apply.
When you write by the seat of your pants it does help if you have a pretty wide range of knowledge since you never know where a story will take you. I certainly didn’t expect it to take me on the edges of the fight with the drug cartels.
One thing I did know from my reading – walls never work, they rarely keep the people you want either out or in, and haven’t since time immemorial. The Great Wall of China didn’t keep out the people it was intended to keep out, despite attempts to extend it. In WWII prisoner of war camps, tunnels were dug. During the years of the Berlin Wall there were folks who also dug tunnels, flew balloons, etc.
The same is true of the border wall between the US and Mexico that was meant to deter drug trafficking and illegal immigration. There have been reports of tunnels built under the walls, of ultralights carrying drugs over the walls, etc. The drug cartels like Sinaloa have been digging tunnels to transport marijuana and other drugs for years, something I knew from reading newspapers. So why was it a surprise when a drug lord escaped from prison through one?

Nike’s Wings
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005GHE94K

Read More »

Why do I write fantasy?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why do I write fantasy?

Why do I write fantasy? So that I can take the images in my mind like this –
Gossamer butterflies danced in the air, taking wing from where they sparkled among the leaves of the trees, their nearly transparent wings catching the sunlight and refracting it into rainbow twinkles of light. They spiraled upward as they swirled around each other. More and more took flight, rising in a glistening, ever-shifting, swirling cloud. That diaphanous cloud grew, billowed and blew, sparkling brilliant effervescent light,” – and share them with my readers so that they can see them, too. Because it’s not just my characters that make magic, but my imagination that does.
I write fantasy because I want to explore those worlds that haven’t been (maybe), and because I want to meet the characters that people them. I want my readers to get to know them, too, to know their hopes and fears, their joys and sadnesses.
I want to explore this world through that one, to look at it in different ways, and I want to take my readers with me.

Author of
The Coming Storm series
The Servant of the Gods series
and Song of the Fairy Queen

Amazon Author Page
http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI

Read More »

Weirdness…

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s been a little weird lately. The other morning I had another flareup of my PTSD. Now don’t get me wrong, my PTSD isn’t as serious as that experienced by returning soldiers (I say this because I know I’ll be called out for it if I don’t.) Mine was brought on by the months I spent first as a domestic violence victim, and then the months when he stalked and hunted me until I found a place to hide where he couldn’t find me.
I had a nightmare – a common symptom of PTSD – reliving a moment when I woke because my then-and now ex-husband had pinned me face down on the bed. I couldn’t breathe with his weight on me. He wanted to make sure I knew he could control me, even kill me, at any time.
Waking from the nightmare, I was completely disoriented at first, and then the anxiety hit. God bless my husband. He’s my rock and my anchor.
The same day I saw a post on Facebook about a domestic violence group asking people not to go see 50 Shades of Grey and instead donate the money they would have spent to domestic violence shelters. I posted it because I thought people might find it interesting, but what shocked and appalled me was how many women reacted negatively to the post – one dismissing the domestic violence groups involved as ‘fluff’, while another dismissed it out of hand. There was a great deal of reaction and comments about how the heroine ‘consented.’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fond of the story line of the novel/movie. And the consent everyone references is questionable on that basis. The lead female has serious self-esteem issues.
One of those who called me out hadn’t actually read the book but stated that they are a domestic violence survivor.
Apparently to this person, though, the movie was more important than the issue.
The same day the President gave a PSA about domestic violence during the Grammys. To all appearances it was ignored by the morning news shows.
Sadly, I’m not terribly surprised by any of it…

Read More »

Grammar matters

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Okay, I have to admit I love Grammarly, so I’m a bit prejudiced. But then, I do love proper spelling and grammar. As I emphasize in the group I helped found – the Indie Author Group. It’s appalling to see how many writers don’t know how to do the basics.
It turns out that it matters, as the infographic that Grammarly posted shows and the Huffington post shared.
People with stronger writing skills are better at their jobs and get paid more! Imagine that! *grins*
A reviewer of one of my books was ecstatic that I used the word ‘sere’ in what was a novel of fairly light content. She was thrilled to find a writer who was actually literate in an unexpected context.
What amazes me sometimes is – despite statistics like these – the number of writers who insist they don’t have to follow the ‘rules’. My response? It helps to know the rules so you know what rule you’re breaking and why. More importantly, will your readers understand what you wanted to say?
I’m also sometimes astonished by the writers who also express themselves poorly in posts or comments (typos I get, text speak only so much). You are representing yourself, if a reader sees a writer post or comment using bad grammar or spelling, what are they going to think. (Unless it’s clearly deliberate, as I sometimes do.) Your poor grammar reflects on you. A recent post by a well-known politician in which he – a supposedly noted scholar – demonstrates that he doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re, and the subsequent Twitter and Facebook feedback, demonstrated this pretty clearly.
It makes even less sense when you can have Grammarly check your grammar and spelling as you go – for free!
http://www.grammarly.com/

Read More »

The Indie Author Group

Posted by on Jan 17, 2015 in News | 0 comments

The Indie Author Group

Thanks so much to Preditors and Editors, and all the members of the Indie Author Group!

When I first started the Group there really wasn’t much information on Indie/Self-publishing out there. Amanda Hocking was the Indie/Self-publishing phenomenon. Joe Konrath and David Gaughran were the gurus. I made a lot of mistakes.

What information was there wasn’t to help folks on this journey – to provide support and information. Oh, the information was out there, but you had to spend a lot of time hunting it down.

I didn’t want people to go through what I did, make the same mistakes, and/or have to search through dozens of pages, or through endless threads, for what they needed. I wanted to create a site where all that information would be in one place and there would be a reference library of sorts where people could go to find lists of promotion sites, editors, cover artists, etc.

With the help of Kai (Donna) and few others, we created the Indie Author Group, to share our experiences.

I started out by trying the traditional route. I learned to write query letters, and attended cons. One local con brought me in contact with an editor who liked the premise of the book I was pitching for their new line. Then… nothing. No response. Checking out their site, it was clear that their general offering wasn’t what I was writing. Reading a few, though, I thought, I can do that. So I did. To put it kindly, it didn’t work out. I didn’t like the lack of control in the editing and cover art process, and they wanted to make changes to my novel I had difficulty with. Then everyone started talking about Amanda Hocking.

In those early days Smashwords was the primary game and I put one of my books there.
(Song of the Fairy Queen) Then another. Within a few months, I was making about the same amount as I was making in my day job. Not a lot, but nothing to sneeze at.

I also discovered one of the truisms of writing – nothing sells Book One better than Book Two, and so on.

So I quit to write full time. Then Amazon created Kindle Direct Publishing and I started making real money. Several of my books were in the top 10 or top 50 of their category.

I also nearly made a critical mistake by getting involved with a so-called ‘Indie Publisher’ that was really a vanity press focused on print books, and I learned very quickly that they couldn’t do anything for me that I couldn’t do better on my own. (I only gave them one book, and thankfully got it back fairly easily.) I also found Pred-ed – the site created to warn writers about bad publishers, editors, promotion sites, etc.

When Amazon added Kindle Select, I was one of the early ones to jump on that bandwagon. Within the first month I was making thousands of dollars and my books were hitting the tops of their categories. Not free but paid.

As time went by, and the initial euphoria wore off, the maxim ‘it’s not a sprint but a marathon’ was proven. So I and others hunted down promotion sites, tested some, tried others, and other methods.

Everything learned was shared with the Group.

A ‘reference library’ of services and service providers was created in Files so members who needed a service like cover art or editing, or the people who provided them, could find one list to reference (or add themselves to). Another was created of proven promotion pages. Each would save people time and leave the main page free for questions about writing. It would also allow the service providers to reach all the members, not just the one on a single thread.

At first we allowed people to promote but rapidly discovered that some people joined the group just to promote themselves. So it was decided by the members as a whole – they were polled – to not allow promotion.

Over time the Group grew. Moderators were picked based on experience and/or personality. Some were removed for various reasons, but the core group has remained the same.

We had to set some rules to make certain the Group would remain true to its original intention – helping writers produce a professional product while helping to give them information that would help them become more successful writers. It seems to have succeeded.

Read More »

Valerie Douglas, Author is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache