Plagiarism Happens

“Plagiarism is an academic crime.  It is punishable by academic death.” – Man of the House – Tommy Lee Jones

In school, we all know what happens if we get caught plagiarizing.  It truly is an academic crime, punishable by academic death.  Or it was when I went to school, I don’t know how it works these days… I’m guessing since they now have programs to check for plagiarism, it hasn’t gotten better and the penalties are still steep.

That’s all well and good, but what happens when an author plagiarizes another author?  We all sorta know about the Janet Dailey/Nora Roberts case.  Janet Dailey, a successful romance writer was sued by Roberts because she plagiarized several of Roberts’ novels and claimed them as her own.  Roberts won.  It was a huge scandal.  Eventually, Dailey was able to reclaim some of her reputation before she died.

For the vast majority of authors out there, self publishing/independent publishing has been a huge thing.  We are no longer bound into contracts we don’t like the terms of.  We can make as much money as a traditionally published author.  We are able to publish as fast as our brains and fingers will allow.  It’s been amazing.

However, there are always unscrupulous people out there.  These people are plagiarizers.  They steal our words and sell them as their own.  It happens to traditionals, it happens to indies.  They are simply trying to cash in on what they see as a get rich quick scheme.

The problem is, authors can’t read every book ever published in an attempt to check this stuff.  We have to rely on algorithms and readers to find it.  Once it’s found, we authors then have to appeal to the better nature of ebook retailers to get the offending book removed.  For the most part, retailers are willing to do it, but we have to prove the plagiarism to them.

And the bastards that did it?  They don’t care… Truth be told, they are screwing over the author and the reader.  The reader gets to pay for a book twice (that they’ve already read) and the author loses sales that should have gone to them.  That account gets banned and they just set up a new one with new information and start all over again.

As readers, we have to be aware of this problem.  We are the frontline of defense.  We are the ones who will say “Hey, wait a second, this book sounds awfully familiar to this other book.”  Then we will investigate and maybe tell the author, if the author is approachable or the retailer, whatever.  The trick to finding the real author, is the publication date.  You can’t plagiarize a book that hasn’t been published yet, unless you’re an editor or beta reader and that’s a whole new level of wrong…

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Getting Longer

My “to-do list” is getting longer than I have time for this month.  The content editing is done for Mercurial Dreams, now I need to read and implement some changes.  The audio for Tortured Dreams is flowing in a couple of chapters a night (my narrator is a night owl).  I have a dozen books on my “To-Be Read This Month List” and it appears to be getting longer.  My house still needs to be decorated for Halloween.  I still haven’t figured out a costume.  We have a dart tournament this weekend.  We have to close up the campground next weekend.

Yes, October is starting to slip away faster than excepted… Faster than I’d like.  We are halfway through the month already!

I haven’t even begun to plan for NaNoWriMo yet.

So, that’s life on my end.  However, I did get some swag items sorted and planned.  There is more to do on that front and I’m shopping around for blog tours for my thriller series, again.  Hopefully, I’ll have a little more luck this time.  We shall see…

Write On

Image09252013204851  I grabbed this magnet when I was at The Strand Book Store in NYC.  Considering in 21 days an ark-load of writers will begin NaNoWriMo, I think it’s appropriate.  After all, November is very stressful for all of us attempting to get 50,000 words into a writing program or some other software in 30 very short days… along with Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping (or any other holidays that may crop up in other countries and religions).

Of course, I love NaNoWriMo, the pressure makes me write and write and write.  It is the only time of the year that I set daily word goals.  The rest of the time, it is solely a weekly word goal.  With NaNo, I have to plan a little more (and oddly, a little less) and attempt to put more than just drivel on the pages.  I’m not sure I manage to put more than just drivel on the pages, but it’s good to have goals.

And NaNoMites have a goal of 50,000 words.  If I slack more than a few days, I’ll miss the goal and sharpie a great big “L” on my forehead (just kidding, I would NEVER do that, I have lines in my forehead, the “L” would look weird, not to mention, be hard to write… and yes, I did just turn Sharpie into a verb, thanks for noticing).

But there’s more to NaNoWriMo than just word goals and novel writing… There’s people.  Writers like me, struggling to meet the goals, taking every free second they can find to get another 100 words in, or hash-out a wonky plot thread that either cropped up unexpectedly or was dropped by accident.

Last year, after NaNo, several of us began meeting once a month and created a group to encourage each other along when November finished.  And despite being me, I fit in with them and enjoy the monthly meetings.  I wish I could attend more of them, but life gets in the way.  Published and unpublished alike, I find I love working with them.  I love reading what everyone has written and where they are going with it and desperately wondering when it’s going to be done so I can sit down and read the whole thing.

I should have bought dozens of these magnets so that when November started, I could hand them out like little inspiration notes to keep my fellow NaNoMites clacking those keys… I know I’ll be staring at it once in a while and doing deep breathing exercises.  So Keep Calm and Write On NaNoMites and at the end of the month, we’ll break out the champagne and red pens.

(PS:  The purple thing is my Kindle cover… yes, I was reading when I decided to snap the pic)

McHale’s Navy, Kafka, Congo, Oklahoma, Hernia

Last night, as I watched McHale’s Navy, I was struck by something Tim Curry said. It reminded me of Kafka. Which made me think of the movie Congo and that made me think of Helen Hunt (I don’t know why) and that led to thoughts of Oklahoma where we have a dart friend who recently had surgery for a hernia which brought my thoughts back to me because I have an ovarian cyst that bothers me from time to time.

The connections the mind makes is an unusual thing. The scattered nature of our random thoughts are still capable of making connections between things that seem unrelated.

Stream of Concious like that above is a tried and true writer’s trick. One I rarely use because my first writing exercise of the day is always taken care of… This blog.

Yes, I am a bit of a prolific blogger. It gets the writing juices flowing in the morning. Sometimes, the posts are planned. Most of the time they are organically grown from my awakening mind.

However, a writing exercise, no matter the form, is still a prod to get the neurons firing and the brain stringing sentences together.

So good morning readers and brain… It is time to start the day!

I Wrote What?!?!?

Now that Elysium Dreams has released and my fellow novelist group authors are knee-deep in CampNaNo, I want to share an “I wrote what” moment from the book.

The Scene: Aislinn, Xavier and Dr. Ericson are in the morgue with a new victim. Xavier is wearing a vinyl protective suit, a HEPA mask and maginifying goggles.

For some reason, Aislinn’s next thought (after thinking how much she wants to call him something akin to a bug-eyed freak) was “I was desperate to be alone with him.”

WHAT?!?!?!  

First, Ace is as close to being an asexual human being as I can write.  Second, even if she wasn’t, Xavier certainly would not be her type.  Third, in no universe would Ace be desperate to be alone with anyone.  Fourth, I wrote that crap?!?!

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did, in an Aislinn Cain novel, with the thought coming from Aislinn.  What was I thinking?  I haven’t a clue.  I’m sure it was probably not a typo or a misthought.  It probably had a lot to do with Aislinn desperately wanting to vocalize her opinion of Xavier’s unconventional (even for Xavier) appearance.  However, to word it in that specific way… Yeah, my content editor laughed until she was crying and couldn’t breathe.  I scratched my head and wondered what I had been thinking at the time.  Surely it was more logical than what ended up on the page, but then again, maybe not.

We all have those moments.  I had a few of those moments in Elysium Dreams.  None quite as funny as the moment of “desperation” by Aislinn, but pretty close.  Tomorrow, I may share a few more…

The Law of Unintended Consequences

I often forget this law exists.  It is rather an important law, both good and bad come from it.

In June, I changed the title of The Life & Dysfunction to The Dysfunctional Affair.  Several people had told me the title was too long and didn’t convey the “right” message.  Since I’m not sure what the “right” message is, I shook my head and changed the title anyway.

As some of you know, in the last month, I have really started marketing Tortured Dreams, building up an audience before the release of Elysium Dreams.

In May, when I advertised Tortured Dreams I sold copies of Tortured Dreams.  However, the last two ads I’ve run for Tortured Dreams has sold copies of Tortured Dreams, but it has also sold copies of The Dysfunctional Affair, The Dysfunctional Valentine and The Dysfunctional Honeymoon.

Yesterday, as sales continued to climb on all four books, it dawned on me: I write two mystery series… One cozy, one not.  And oddly, I have almost a 50% retention rate for the Dysfunctional Chronicles.  My retention rate on the Strachan books is not even close to that (4.2%) and I haven’t a clue what it will be for the Cain books, but I’m guessing it will be in the same neighborhood as the Strachan books.

We got our new bed yesterday.  From a traditional innerspring to a memory foam.  I’m a little stiff this morning, but they said that could happen.  My SO is hating it.  But he slept better last night than he has in weeks.  And he did NOT talk in his sleep last night or if he did, I was just sleeping so soundly that it didn’t wake me.  Of course, I could have done with a few more hours, but that’s the Benedryl talking.  My legs, arms and torso are covered in bug bites and Benedryl makes them stop itching.  It also makes me very sleepy.

And I have sorted my stylus question.  I bought one on sale and decided to give it a try.  I love it!  Love, love, love, love it… It works on my Kindle, my SO’s iPhone, it’s wonderful.  Got it at Big Lots of all places, cheap.

I had a friend post on my timeline “Three more days!!!  I’m so excited!!!”.  When I first saw it this morning, my mind kicked into overdrive.  Had I forgotten something really important that we were supposed to do?!?!?  Then it hit me, she was talking about the Elysium Dreams release.  Duh, Hadena!

Let Mortal Combat Begin!

Occasionally the theme song from the Mortal Kombat movies run through my head.  This is usually precipitated by knowing that I have to go to work on a new book very soon.

Today, as I sit down to write my blog post, the theme song once again begins to play.  My job today, tackle Dark Legacies.  There are moments when I find shifting from character to character to be nothing short of a deadly game of swordsmanship.  And going from the paranoid sociopathic Aislinn to the clueless pessimistic Brenna is a shift that I do not make easily.

Then again shifting to the hapless fatalist Nadine is also a challenge.

I know my good friends and family, always hear “me” when they read any of the female leads (heaven help me… I’m a clumsy, sociopathic demon in this version of reality), none of them are “me”.  And that means I have to work very hard to think like “them”.  Frighteningly, I find Aislinn the easiest to write and Brenna the hardest.  I’m just not as clueless or pessimistic as Brenna.  To be completely honest (and this horrifies me to no end), I am probably most like Nadine… A hapless (and sometimes helpless) optimistic fatalist bumbling and stumbling my way through the world and trying not to stress.

Being both an optimist and a fatalist is challenging, but one does not exclude the other, although I sometimes believe it should.  Let the Fates do what they will, in the end, it will work out, is kind of my philosophy.

So as I sit, trying to force the sound of Aislinn’s voice from my head (she doesn’t sound like “me” to me, just FYI) and replace it with Brenna’s, I find the theme song once again playing in the background.  And somewhere further away, I hear the words “Let Mortal Combat Being!”

 

What’s In A Name?

For me, everything… Names can hold or reveal secrets. I was asked the other day why the Cain books have the word “dreams” in them.

Because that is what “Aislinn” means in Gaelic/Celt… Dreams. And the last name “Cain”… Well, the first murderer was Cain and Aislinn hunts serial killers.

“Cain” can also be synonymous with “evil” and since Aislinn is plagued with nightmares… You get the picture.

I slept in the most uncomfortable bed ever last night. I am incredibly sore and stiff this morning.

Even nicknaming her “Ace” was deliberate. I could have used “Linn” or “Ann”, but “Ace” creates a different connotation. It is considered masculine, giving an air of neutrality to my serial killer hunting sociopath. It implies she is as tough as her male counter parts.

So, I go against the philosophy of The Great Bard. A name is truly important. It hides or reveals much.

#6… Yes, I’ll Take It!

Tortured Dreams moved into 6th place last night for hard-boiled mysteries on Amazon.  The #1 book in this genre, Joyland by Stephen King.  I think I’m in fine company.  I’ll take 6th.

Everything is moving quickly on Elysium Dreams.  It is going to be ready right on schedule.  I’ll be uploading and holding them as drafts by the end of the weekend.  Holy crap, a whole week early!  Mostly, it’s just formatting now.

I haven’t slept well for two nights now (perhaps I’m starting to suffer from some of Aislinn’s insomnia?).  The first night, it was my SO kicking me out of bed for snoring.  Last night, I wanted to watch as Tortured Dreams climbed the charts.  The timing is perfect, what with the release of Elysium in just a week and a half.

As soon as I finish Elysium, I’m going to sit down and enjoy a book or two before I start work on my next novel.  I have four that are sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read.  Trapped by Jack Kilborn… I loved Afraid.  I’m thinking I’ll love this one as well.  The Ninth Floor by my friend and mentor, Liz Schulte.  Ravage by Iain Rob Wright which I know almost nothing about and finally, It’s Nothing Personal by Sherry Gorman, M.D.

While I could have been reading any or all of these while I worked on Elysium Dreams, I also know that once absorbed in a book, it is hard to get me out of it.  Even telling myself I have to work doesn’t always get the job done.  So I stopped reading once I started editing.  Now that everything is almost finished, I am ready to pick up a good book and get lost in it.

Now I leave you to return to polishing Elysium Dreams so that I can enjoy a good book.

Elysium Dreams Cover Reveal (And Teaser Bit)

Elysium Dreams Draft CoverDreams & Reality Book 2 

Someone was flipping on the light in my bedroom.  I knew this was a bad sign considering I lived alone.  However, living in the Federal Guard Neighborhood, it meant that it was someone with a key to my house.

Since we had returned less than two days ago from tracking down our most recent serial killer, I was hoping the intrusion in the middle of the night was because my house was on fire.

We had tracked down twelve serial killers in the time I had been a member of the Serial Crimes Tracking Unit with the US Marshals.

Our last case had taken us almost two weeks.  He had been elusive to say the least, coming out only to kill a few women on random nights of horror.  He’d been bold, starting the first night with four women, all shot in the head.  After that, he had scaled back to only two or three a night.  He had claimed 53 women in all before receiving his own head wound.

Frankly, I had been looking forward to a few weeks of rest and recuperation.  I blearily opened my eyes.  The cool soothing green walls greeted me first.  Lucas McMichaels greeted me second.  I groaned.

“Come on, we’ve got another and it’s a priority.  The press has latched onto him and is calling him ‘The Flesh Hunter’.  He picks a new victim the day his old victim is found.  In three months, he’s claimed 41 victims.  The locals were keeping it quiet until a journalist found the most recent body while taking a hike in a local wooded park.”

“Great,” I got out of bed and looked around the room.

“What?”  Lucas asked.

“I haven’t repacked my travel bag.  Where are we going?”

“Alaska.”

“It’s March.  I don’t want to go to Alaska.”

“Doesn’t matter, we’re going, pack some sweaters and hoodies.”  Lucas left my room.

It took me fifteen minutes to pack my bags and toss on some warm clothing.  It wasn’t exactly warm in Missouri.  But Alaska was going to be a hell of a lot colder.

Xavier, Michael and Gabriel were in my living room.  I was glad it was Lucas who had come up and woken me.  Crawling into bed the previous evening, I had grabbed the two cleanest articles of sleep wear I could find; a black lacy baby-doll style top and flannel polar bear pajama pants with feet.  He didn’t care what I was wearing, the others would have made an inappropriate comment or two.

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