Saturday, February 20, 2016

FNN Report: Trump Threatens the Pope

FNN political reporter Stacy Conundrum filed this report.
Donald Trump, after denouncing the Pope a few days ago, said that after he is elected President he will vigorously defend the country and his Presidency from a trash-talking Pope. If the Pope verbally attacks him again, the Pope will be surpised when a few Marine Expeditionary Units assault the Vatican and seize control of the city.
At a press conference this morning, Trump said, “Once the Marine battalions seize control of the city, well see what secrets the Vatican has been harboring for centruries and well look into how they got all that art work they have in the museum. Something doesnt smell right.  Well send in hundreds of accountants to sniff it out and to see how much treasure the Church has.  Then well force the Vatican to pay the costs for the Marine assault and occupancy of the city.
 If Italy objects to us sending Marines through Italian territory, then Italy better look to its defenses also.
 Under my Presidency, the USA will not be insulted by a city posing as a country or even third-rate countries.”

Ms Conundrum will monitor developments on this story.

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, February 10, 2016

Ask PZM: Feb 2016 - KDP

Q: Are there any new things with KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing?

Disclaimer: Before I answer this question I want to clearly state that AMAZON IS ALWAYS CHANGING and therefore any information can be outdated or incorrect the moment it is written.  I just read, for example, a newly published book (the author asked me for a review) in which I found, to the best of my knowledge, a mistake about KDP ebook pricing. 

Thus this warning:  No matter what anyone, including me, writes about online features for social media sites, Amazon, or any sites, you should check for yourself whether that information is accurate.

Now on to what is going on with Amazon at this moment:

Error issue:

It appears that as of February 2016 Amazon will be putting a warning on Kindle ebook sales pages whose ebooks have some mistakes such as spelling errors or formatting issues.  In addition, ebooks with more serious issues will be removed from the Amazon site until these are corrected.

Here is what you should know about taking action into your own hands:

When you upload an ebook via the KDP dashboard, there are two screens.  The first one includes the upload function for the book’s text.  I do not believe that when you first upload a new ebook you get the error message (although I may be wrong and you do get the error message immediately).

But if you return to the ebook’s KDP upload screens after the ebook has gone live, if there are spelling errors you will see an error alert (scroll down on the first of the two screens).  Do NOT overlook this alert as I admit I have done in the past.  In fact, return to the KDP dashboard now and check all your ebooks.

If there are spelling errors, correct these.  If the words are correct, such as in a fantasy story where you have made up words, you can tell KDP to ignore the spelling error alert for these words.

Do this now to get ahead of this change in KDP.  And, if you are not the publisher of your ebooks, ask your publisher to check the error alerts in the KDP dashboard for your ebooks. 

Preview link:

On the plus side, KDP ebooks now have an option on the book’s Kindle sales page for a link or embed code to the preview of the book.

In other words, instead of sharing the Amazon sales page link of your ebook and hoping the person will then click on the book’s preview option, you can send someone directly to the preview.  Or you can embed the preview on your own website.

Here is an example of the link to the preview of my spy thriller “CIA Fall Guy.”  Yes, the link is quite long, and I have left it this way rather than using a shortened URL so you can see it in its entirety.  If I were sharing this link on social media, I would use a shortened URL option:

And look how nice this option looks on my website when I used the embed code that gave me this photo of the book cover with the clickable link FREE PREVIEW under the photo:

To find the link and embed codes for any Kindle ebook, scroll down on the right-hand side of a book’s Amazon sales page (make sure you are on the book’s Kindle sales page and not the physical book page) and to the right of the Pinterest icon you will find – click on this for both the link and embed codes and then choose which code you want.

Q: Any suggestion of a site on which to share fiction or nonfiction material?

While I have written of other sites that I have tried, is the current free site with which I’m experimenting.

Although the site’s interface is not as user friendly as it could be, I’m finding Scriggler a very good site for sharing both short stories and opinion pieces.  (There’s also a poetry category.) 

Have a look at my profile at to see the kinds of material that I’ve been sharing on this site.

What I have found particularly interesting is that, about four days after I post a new contribution, Scriggler promotes the story or article link via its Twitter account of @IScriggle.

Now I can’t tell whether this is true for all contributions.  My theory is that someone at Scriggler reviews the contributions before deciding which ones are shared via Twitter. 

Q: Any suggestions for books on writing and courses on screenwriting?

I often read books on writing, and one that I recently found very helpful is Jeff Gerke’s “The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success.As I write this, the book has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on 46 reviews on Amazon, and I think this rating is well deserved.  (Full disclosure: I borrowed the Kindle ebook format from my local library, although the book would be worth buying.)

Also, I just finished the Maximum Entertainment online course from and found it incredibly valuable.  As part of the homework assignments I rewrote several scenes from one of my screenplays after learning how to make these scenes more dramatic.  I am now signed up for a course on dialogue.  And, yes, these are paid courses although quite reasonable.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon.  She blogs on book-related topics at

*If you have a question you wanted answered in Ask PZM: March 2016, please forward it to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'll pass it along*


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: JoAnn Yolanda Hernandez and The Reset Button

It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which. If you decide to join us, know that whatever you share will receive the upmost respect and attention. 

Click here to join. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

Our awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG will be Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend! 

If you haven't already, don’t forget to sign up for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s newsletter! Our new admin, Chrys Fey, has spun her magic and invited some awesome guests for the first issue, due out February 24. Sign up HERE. 

In the still of the night, with your dreams fading, misery and doom weighing you down, do you see all hope as hopeless? Do you hear the banshee scream? During the darkest moment, is that when you choose death over life? You press the reset button, unconsciously aware that what you really want is to start over. 

The you in this case is  Jo Ann Yolanda Hernandezaward-winning author. Mother, sister, daughter, friend.

In life, JoAnn rose each day hesitantly and accomplished what many of us yearn for: a measure of success as an author. She dedicated her life to promoting authors of colour. Along the way, she hoped if she took her meds, some form of joy would kick in and allow her peace of mind. 

Five years ago, JoAnn, a talented writer, university professor, and often difficult friend, chose to press the reset button. It's taken me this long to realize she wasn't a coward, nor was she courageous. The meds were slowly killing her creativity, bleeding her dry; no amount of desperation, screams for help, or willing her sanity to remain intact, worked. She wasn't getting better. 

I didn't understand. I told her over and over again: "FIGHT! Be stubborn. Refuse to give up. Believe in yourself, in our friendship. Persevere--it'll get easier--I promise!" What I should have said was, "JoAnn, happiness is a decision you make every morning. If not today, then tomorrow."

Sometimes she'd call (I've lost track of how often) and mumble that she'd taken an overdose of meds. Then she'd pass out. I lived in British Columbia, Canada; she lived in Mesa, Arizona. Still, I'd always manage to contact the authorities and have someone show up at her door in time to get her to emergency where they could pump her stomach. One summer I even talked her into coming north to stay with us. I thought my sheer determination to save her -- would save her.

She stayed three months. On her way home, she detoured through Chicago on 9/11 to New York so she could help friends cope with the nightmare.  It was while she was in NYC that she convinced her agent, the infamous Marie Brown, to sign me. The relationship never went anywhere; but for a time, I could say, "I have the same agent as JoAnn Hernandez, Ed Bradley, and Michael Jackson."  

In 2010, JoAnn called from her studio in Mesa to say she'd taken an overdose of meds. I asked her not to call me again. I couldn't help her. If she wanted to die that badly, she should just do it. 

So, she did. 

Convinced of my ability to affect people, (have since learned otherwise) I believed it was my doing that caused her to take her own life. To compensate, I grieved and then moved on ... for five years. 

If you google JoAnn's name, it doesn't tell you she was born August 2, had two sons, one adopted from Vietnam. It says: Honourable Mention, 2009 The Eric Hoffer Book Award -- Young Adult: Winner, 2007 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. Americas Award, 1997....

It may tell you she wanted to put books by authors of colour in every bookstore in North America. She founded The BronzeWord for that purpose. Today it says she resides in Mesa, Arizona -- even though she's been dead five years. The exact day she died is unknown.

I don't know if there's enough words in the world to convince someone not to press the reset button. Nor if it's even the right  thing to do. Is JoAnn at peace now? I can only hope. I do know there's a hole where her life used to be.