Saturday, August 30, 2014

Proof I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The following video may or may not be self-explanatory, so here's what I didn't say and should have. The ALS ice bucket challenge was introduced to help raise money for the progressive neuromuscular disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Because of the ice-bucket challenge, they have surpassed $10 million. I nominated 3 cousins (they know who they are) in Manitoba.

Our youngest, who currently lives in the UK and isn't close enough for me to smack, nominated me for the challenge. I was going to donate to the cause. It's a great cause, but I had no plans on participating in the challenge at this time. However, that didn't stop the little brat from nominating me. And on the only day of the week that was raining and chilly.

What was wrong with nominating Dad!

The fleeing cat is Shasta, the coward.

The slip of tongue at the end of the video was unavoidable; sorry.

Anyway, I promised evidence; so with no further ado...

Monday, August 25, 2014


I'm at Caffe Maggieato's blog today being interviewed about my newest book Break Time, an anthology collaboration. We're discussing other stuff as well. Hope you can stop by. Maggie's blog is in a word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Or for my younger readers: kewl.

smoke-filled scenery

Too often we take for granted the quality of the air we breathe. Today I'd also like to pay homage to the fire fighters who risk their lives fighting forest fires every day in our area, our province and across North America. Thank you for your outstanding service.

Wall of smoke

Donate ALS, Canada
Donate ALS, USA

Later today I'm taking up the ALS ice-bucket challenge my son gave me and performing my pledge and donation. Upon request, photos will be available. (humph, such mistrust!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

FNN interview: Hank Quense

Marcia Hammerhead: if there is anything worse than an author who writes genre trash, it's a prolific author who writes gene trash. My latest assignment is to interview, once again, prolific author of genre trash, Hank Quense. His newest genre trash is called Moxie's Problem. According to Quense, it is a coming-of-age novel that takes place against a backdrop of Camelot. If we're lucky, Quense will have left the lovely Camelot legends unchanged. I doubt that will happen. Well, I may as well get this onerous assignment over with.

MH: Mr Quense, in Falstaff’s Big Gamble, you utterly destroyed two of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Othello and Hamlet. In Wotan’s Dilemma, you forever damaged Richard Wagner’s reputation and his Ring Cycle of operas. What possessed you to write yet another genre novel instead of a literary work that would enshrine your name in history? Nothing says talent like an incomprehensible work that befuddles critics and readers.
HQ: To me, literary works are boring. Thousands of words without any action. On the other hand, my genre trash, as you call it, is filled with action, humor, satire and entertainment. I love writing stories like this, Martha.

MH: Action, humor and entertainment have no place in real literature. True literary novelists rely on many, many words to hold the readers' attention. Are there any literary elements in your new novel?
HQ: I hope not. The story is about a teenage princess, Moxie, who struggles to come to grips with a reality that is quite different from the world she grew up in, her father's castle. The book also has a number of unusual activities in it.

MH: I'm sure I'll regret asking this, but what unusual activities are you talking about?
HQ: In my story I have a retelling of part of the Robin Hood legends. I have the witches from Shakespeare's MacBeth, and even the Tristan & Isolde legend, sort of. The Saxon invaders concentrate on beating the Knights of the Round Table football team.

MH: Good Heavens! This is even worse than I anticipated. How can you possibly justify all this disconnected nonsense in one story?
HQ: That was the easy part, Margo. I just sprinkled some scifi dust on the plot. Once I did that, I realized this Camelot wasn't the Camelot of the traditional legends. My Camelot is in a different parallel universe. So all bets are off and I'm limited only by my imagination.

MH: This is an outage, The Camelot traditions and legends are part of the English-speaking culture. How dare you play fast-and-loose with Camelot.
HQ: Sorry, Margaret. It's my job to rewrite stuff like this in order to entertain readers.

MH: That's preposterous. The purpose of literature isn't to entertain readers, it's purpose is to give them weighty subjects to discuss at prestigious cocktail parties. Since we are so far apart, I must terminate this interview. You've wasted enough of my time. And my name is Marcia!
HQ: Thanks for talking to me, Mary.

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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: August 2014 Ask PZM

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 (besides me) Sarah Foster, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom!  
Please stop by and thank them for their time.  

THANKS, Ladies!

Our FaceBook Page... Fun Friday and Saturday News and Promo have been replaced by Friday News and Promo. Also, we have a surprise for the IWSG anniversary Sept 3. 
Hope you'll come celebrate with us! 

Ask PZM: 

Q: What do you think of Amazon’s new monthly subscription service Kindle Unlimited?

I first learned of this new subscription service from an email to authors explaining that all ebooks enrolled in KDP Select with U.S. rights are automatically included in Kindle Unlimited. Then I went to the home page of to watch the very brief video about this new service being offered for $9.99 a month with a free 30-day trial.

Next I contrasted Kindle Unlimited with Amazon Prime, for which members pay an annual fee for various privileges, including borrowing one ebook a month for free via the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL). KDP Select ebooks are automatically included in KOLL.

In both programs KDP Select authors get paid for the borrows, except for KU there is no fund payment unless the person reads more than 10% of the book. (If a reader gets 10% into a book a second time, there is no additional payment.)

This is different from the payout that KDP Select authors get when their books are downloaded as part of KOLL. In the case of a book being borrowed via KOLL, the author gets paid for the download regardless of whether any of the book is read.

At the moment the borrows for both these options for KDP Select authors are shown on the KDP author dashboard in one column marked “KU/KOLL Units.” (I personally would like to see these numbers separated into two columns.)

Now here is my opinion of why KU can be very good for indie published authors:

When Prime members can only get one ebook a month for free, indie author ebooks that normally are priced less than ebooks from major publishers probably cannot compete.  Why?  Because, if it were me, I'd choose a more expensive ebook for my one monthly free borrow.
Yet if I have a KU subscription and can read as many books for free a month as I want, I am probably more likely to download less expensive ebooks too.

And this means that indie published authors have more opportunities for their books to be tried for free.

In others words, if KU is hugely successful (and I expect it will be – think Netflix for books), this will give indie authors a larger audience who can try our books.  Why offer our books for free via KDP Select’s free promotion days when our books can be offered for free through KU – and a book via KU if 10% of the book is read provides income for us!

Of course, if your ebook price is closer to $9.99 and you get 70% royalties on that, you would presumably make more on each ebook than whatever Amazon pays per borrow (varies each month).  But how many indie authors have a large audience paying close to $9.99 an ebook?

All in all, I think this new opportunity could be good for indie authors whose books are on KDP Select.  And for KDP Select authors not in the U.S., I expect this program to be rolled out to other Amazon country sites in the near future.

Q: Are you personally trying out any new promotional opportunities for authors?

At the moment I am participating in a marketing consulting project for a new internet service designed to drive conversions (click-throughs) after telling a marketer’s “story.”  This free web application could be very useful for authors to promote their books.

The service’s site is and the first version of this free service has recently been released with a strong focus on mobile consumers.

Here is how Slipp works:

You sign up for a free account and then you can create a Slipp – a slide show of pictures and text optimized for smartphones that can promote your books with a click-through link on the last screen (called the “exit card”). 

In addition to the cover card, you have up to 11 cards to tell your story with, as of this writing, a headline, photo and text of up to 140 characters on each card.

You can create new content or repurpose existing content.  For photos you can use the creation screen to pull in photos from Google (photos are automatically suggested when you enter your headline on a card) or you can upload your own photos.

Once you are done creating a Slipp, you can share the Slipp link on social media and on your author website, etc.

Right now the only type of action is a link click-through.  But the company has indicated that many other options will soon be available.  These will include a click to sign up for an email list or a click to add an event to an online calendar (could be good for book signing events).

The user interface for creating Slipps still has some rough points.  For example, the place to insert a link is hidden in the “Post” screen.  Also, the option for automatic numbering (great for lists) needs to be selected before creating a Slipp.  This can’t be changed once you’ve started.

When I made my first two Slipps, I did not immediately understand that the numbered Slipp was for lists, which is why one of my Slipps below has numbers on the cards.  And as I was away from access to my own photos when I created these two Slipps very quickly on a borrowed laptop, I did need to later substitute some of the photos. 

And while I created these very quickly on a borrowed laptop, as I was away from access to my own photos I did later substitute some of the photos. Plus you will note that I did not use all available 11 cards for either of my first two Slipps.

While I used the link in each Slipp exit card to connect with the featured book’s page on the free site Wattpad (in earlier Ask PZM columns I have talked about Wattpad), I could have used the link in each Slipp exit card to send to a book’s page on Amazon or elsewhere.

Here are the links to my first two Slipps:

Invitation to try creating Slipps for your own books:

For those of you with your own books or writing projects on sites such as Wattpad, do try creating a Slipp for each of your books. Then share the Slipp links on your social media accounts.

And if you try creating Slipps right now and have questions or feedback, email me at – I look forward to hearing from you.

Tweet #1   How to Create Slipps for your book. (please click to tweet)

Tweet #2   How the new Kindle Unlimited subscription works. (please click to tweet)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a fiction and nonfiction author who blogs on book-related topics at

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