Monday, July 28, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nation's HDs Threaten National Security

FNN National Security reporter, James Bund, filed this report. Mr Bund is a former MI-6 agent cashiered for unsavory behavior.

A new secret document released by Edward Snowden reveals the NSA is disgusted by the state of the hard drives on home computers. The lack of logical organization, the indecipherable file names and innumerable useless files combined with the extensive pornography have frustrated the NSA as they try to track threats to the country.

In the report, the NSA listed two examples of how the disorganized hard drives delayed investigations until the project was abandoned rather than continue to waste resources on the hard drive search investigations.

In one case, a terror plot was uncovered. It planned to destroy silos filled with cattle feed in order to drive up the price of meat and thus harm the nation's economy. The terrorist was believed to be in the Buffalo, NY area so the NSA hacked into over a quarter million home computers. Because of the disgraceful state of the hard drives and the porn that had to be investigated to see if they contained hidden messages, thirty-five analysts wasted two years trying to find clues to the terrorists before the project was abandoned. The wasted effort cost the taxpayers over a quarter billion dollars.

In the second case, NSA learned of a plot to infiltrate a secret location and modify the atomic clock used to time the internet and other national resources. If successful, it would make the atomic clock lose five minutes per year. Such a small change would disrupt airline and train schedules, play havoc with TV and radio shows and cause many other problems. The plot was believed to be centered around Farmburg in Iowa. The NSA hacked into every home computer in the area, but were again frustrated because of the disorganized hard drives.

The report concluded by urging all schools be forced to teach a course on how to properly organize a hard drive and how to name files in a meaningful manner.

The report stated the NSA analysts assigned to the hard drive investigations have to be reassigned after three months of working on the hard drives because of the frustrations of being unable to figure out what was on the computers.

The NSA denies the events in the report ever happened. It also reports that it has no problems with infiltrating and reading home computer hard drive files but it insists it does not do this and never would do anything as despicable as spying on a citizen's home computer.

FNN will monitor this issue for future developments.

Hank Quense is the author of 50 published short stories along with four novels and three collections of stories. All of these are humorous and/or satiric scifi and fantasy. In the non-fiction area, he has over a dozen articles published on fiction writing and he's the author of the Fiction Writing Guides series and the Self-publishing Guides series. Both series consist of a number of ebooks. The Fiction Writing Guides and the Self-Publishing Guides are an outgrowth of his lectures on both subjects.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

ASK PZM - July 2014

Q. Do you have any new thoughts on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

I recently read on Wattpad an advice article for aspiring authors by Hugh Howey that I thought had a great deal of food for thought.

(Howey is the self-published author whose success with the dystopian WOOL via Amazon’s KDP led to a book deal with Simon & Schuster for the physical book rights while Howey kept the ebook rights.)

Howey said that you “are much better off with your 10th work exploding than your 1st work.”

I’ve provided the link below to Howey’s entire article so you can read this statement in context.  For me, this comment reminded me that success with self-published works can lead to other opportunities.
For example, the self-published novel of an author I know has won four different awards.  An agent is submitting this novel to traditional publishers even though before self-publication the novel had been passed over by publishers.  Now that there is social proof of how many readers love the book, publishers are more willing to consider the book.

As authors we need to be flexible: A publishing or marketing strategy that may be appropriate at one stage may not be the best strategy at another stage.

This is one reason for following the book publishing industry – keeping abreast of new trends and new opportunities for both traditional and self-published authors.

Whether we publish in different genres (Howey does this) or the same genre all the time, we need to keep an eye on the synergy of how one project could positively impact another project.

For example, I just completed a Cold War memoir – TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY – on Wattpad and I am now looking for an agent and publisher for this project.

Suddenly a project I unsuccessfully worked on in 2007 has resurfaced as a possible nonfiction book that could be a companion to TALES.   Thus I queried an agent for both projects together.

In conclusion, if we are committed to our book writing, we should periodically review our current strategy in light of industry trends and our own situations.  Then we should brainstorm whether a new direction might be appropriate.   

Q: What do you think of entering book and story contests?

Although I know authors who have had success with entering contests, I’m divided on the issue.
Actually, I’m all for free contests.  Why not submit if your already written content is appropriate for a contest? 

The contests requiring a submission fee are the ones that I question.

Your marketing budget (it is a marketing expenditure) and common sense are good measuring sticks for entering contests.

If your marketing budget is large, submitting to numerous contests may be worthwhile.  But if your marketing budget is not large, careful consideration of the perceived value of a particular contest is important.  After all, the prestige of each contest is not equal.

And what about time taken away from writing in order to enter a contest?

If it is simply a submission application, that is one thing.  But what if you have to write a new short story in order to submit?  Is it worth interrupting another writing project to do this?

The answer to these questions will be different for each of us, but these questions are important to consider.

P.S.  If you do write a short story specifically for a contest, check whether you can then publish the short story yourself.  You could sell this as a short story on Kindle, for example, or publish it for free on a site such as Wattpad.  In either case you can include information and links about your other written work.

Tweet #1. Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?   (click to tweet)
Tweet #2. Should writers enter book and story contests? (click to tweet)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller on Twitter is at and she is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon. Her fiction books on Amazon can be found and her nonfiction books 

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: Misguided loyalties

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day. IWSG is the brainchild of our noble leader Alex J. Cavanaugh, who understands our need for fellowship. 

If this sounds like a group for you, check out IWSG's webpage for instructions. 

It's a simple process:

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post."

Our Twitter Hashtag is #IWSG

Alex's co-hosts for today are Krista McLaughlin Kim Van Sickler,  Heather Gardner, and Hart Johnson

Please stop by and thank them for their time.  

We are also trying to get the IWSG on the Writers Digest Best 101 Websites list! 

Please email them at, subject line 101 Websites, and suggest the IWSG -

Today's Post:

My name is Joylene and I'm not only an insecure writer, I'm an insecure author.

I'm also a coward with misguided loyalties. 

When I found a publisher, after querying for 25 years, it was not happenstance. Someone knew someone who knew someone.

I was so grateful. A Metis from an obscure northern village in BC, and my writing was finally validated.

By my very nature I would never look a gift horse in the mouth. Even when it takes 19 months to receive a royalty cheque, I remain quiet. 


Do I not believe I deserve better?

Two years and seven months after I sent them the sequel to my novel, I’m just now realizing it’s okay to tell you how sad I feel. They're never going to read my blog or learn I've publicly acknowledged their disrespect. 

When I confessed to a Giller-prize nominated author and friend what was going on, she wasn't surprised. She advised I find a larger publishing house more worthy of my work. 

Eight months later, here I am. 


They published the first novel in the series and if they don't publish the second ... 

My validation will be revoked?

If this were you telling me about your publisher, I’d say "You deserve better." 

Beats me why I can’t say it to myself.

 Ask PZM - July ... is slated for Saturday, July 5, 2014.

 This month's Phyllis answers 2 questions:

1. Do you have any new thoughts on traditional publishing vs self-publishing? 
2. What do you think of entering book and story contests?

If you have a question you'd like to ask Phyllis for her ASK PZM: August, email it to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'll pass it along.