Monday, 29 December 2014

Janet Evanovich on Writing

Fans of comic mysteries and offbeat heroines will enjoy the question and answer session with Janet Evanovich in the "By the Book" feature of the NY Times Sunday Book Review. She has some interesting--and of course amusing--things to say about her writing. 

Evanovich has written more than twenty Stephanie Plum novels. Asked what makes a good series' heroine, Evanovich notes the following: "Consistency of character. Forgivable flaws. Values we admire. Sense of humor. My heroines are all resilient, tenacious, forward-looking positive thinkers who are not self-absorbed, not perfect and not able to resist a cupcake." 

The author's "comfort" books are actually cookbooks, which she can read without gaining weight. 

When she is writing, Evanovich doesn't like to read other authors' works in case they stick in her head while she is trying to write. She reads magazines instead (including Guns & Ammo!).

For the full text of the article, please click here.

Monday, 22 December 2014

An Open Letter to E-Book Pirate Maraya21

Dear Maraya21,

Recently I received an electronic notification that you have uploaded unauthorized copies of my four Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novels to eight different pirate websites on the internet. Needless to say, I was very upset.

Not understanding why I had been targeted, I visited one of these sites and discovered you've made more than 100 uploads of copyrighted material belonging to dozens of authors. Visiting the page you've created for my e-books, I found an exchange of comments between you and an anonymous person--not myself or anyone I know--that was very interesting. Anonymous said:

  • Just love the ego/vanity thing you got going on with your name inserted not only in the metadata, but in the books themselves... hilarious. I guess if you're going to steal ebooks, you may as well get your name all over the real author's work as much as you can.

To which you replied:

  • First i do not STEAL ebooks, i PAY for them. With actual money. So that is why i tag the books with my name so other people would not take my work and present it as theirs. I do not tag books that i haven't paid for. Second i do not erase or alter ANYTHING inside the books, especially the Authors name! I put my tags on empty spaces and anyone reading the books would know that. Thrid [sic] since i PAY for my books i have the right to tag them. But if you people not like [sic] having ebooks then i can very easily stop and spend the money on shoes and stuff..

Wow, so much here to respond to, so much to say. I left a comment of my own, but unfortunately someone deleted it. Here's what I said to you, in case you've forgotten:

  • Hello, I'm the actual author of the books you're distributing. First, thank you for buying your own personal copies of my novels. I appreciate it. I should mention, though, that it took me about a year to write each of these books. I only sell enough copies to pay for the cost of publishing the next one. I will never make enough to come close to paying for my time. I'd ask, then, as a matter of dignity, that you respect the investment of time, energy and stress I put into these books and please take them down again. Beyond that, I hold the exclusive copyright on these works throughout the world. Period. You do not have the right to put your name in the metadata or text, nor do you have the right to distribute them to anyone else. Period. So I ask you, respectfully, to please withdraw them from the various sites where you've posted them... Please. Thank you.

Too bad this comment was deleted, but I think, Maraya21, I covered the basics there. Just to be sure, though, let me reiterate: as per s. 501 of the Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, you have infringed my exclusive rights as copyright owner to claim sole ownership of these works and to distribute them. Read the subsequent sections of the act to see what my remedies are against you.

But enough about me. Let's talk about you. Curious to know more about Maraya21 the bold pirate, I ran a Google search on your handle and found information that I have passed on to the authorities. I've filed a complaint with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center of Homeland Security against you. I've also encouraged other authors victimized by you to file their own complaints. Hopefully, they will.

What will the future bring? For my part, I'm trying to set aside the feelings of violation and humiliation that go along with being a victim and write new novels that I hope no one will steal from me in the future. It's not easy, knowing that my e-books are being downloaded for free with your name in them, as though we were collaborators. I write and publish them, and you make illegal copies and distribute them for free, waving the skull-and-crossbones while shutting off my very modest source of revenue. Works for you, apparently, but it definitely doesn't work for me.

And for your part? Perhaps very soon an ICE team will knock on your door with a warrant to seize your computers and documents, freeze your bank accounts, and put an end to your night-time career as a pirate. Then you'll dearly wish you'd spent your money on "shoes and stuff" instead of my e-books. Think about it. Perhaps if you do, you'll understand the wisdom of removing my novels from the various sites to which you've uploaded them. Please, as an act of dignity and respect for all MY HARD WORK, take them down now.

Thank you,

the author

Monday, 15 December 2014

Change is Sometimes Slow

Canada converted to the metric system in the 1970s with the main argument being that the United States, Canada's largest trading partner, would convert shortly. Forty years later, the United States still has not converted to metric, leading me to wonder what all the fuss was about in the 70s.

If I ask my son what Fahrenheit means, he will give me "the look" that, roughly translated, means he is talking to a dinosaur. (In fact, when my son was very young, he once asked my wife if she was alive when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Her reply: "Some days it feels like it.")

This dinosaur prefers the old days of Fahrenheit, gallons and miles. My head has never quite made the conversion. My wife read somewhere that you can convert Celsius to Fahrenheit by multiplying the Celsius number by 9/5ths and adding 32 degrees. This is a bit too complicated for me to bother with. I enjoy listening to the odd weather forecast from Detroit that still provides temperatures in Fahrenheit. For me, 101 degrees is HOT and -10 is COLD.

And some of the metric measurements have never really caught on in Canada. Most people still prefer to give height in feet and inches rather than metres and centimetres, and weight in pounds rather than kilograms (although it does sound like you weigh less in the metric system because one kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds).

You can see my problem here. Old ways of thinking die hard--

Monday, 8 December 2014

Support Your Volunteer Firefighters

I'm currently working on a new crime fiction series set in eastern Ontario, and one of the great things that comes from writing about your own region is that inevitably you begin to look more closely at things you've taken for granted in the past. The manuscript I'm presently working on includes a response to a fire by the Rideau Lakes Fire Department in Leeds County, Ontario, and in order to put the characters to work in my story I needed to do some research on the Rideau Lakes fire stations in particular and rural volunteer firefighting in general.

A revelation, to be sure.

This past weekend I was signing books at the annual Westport Christmas Farmers' Market craft show at Rideau Vista Public School in Westport, Ontario. As I chatted with two of the women with tables next to mine, I discovered quite by accident that both their husbands are volunteer firefighters with the Westport station of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department. Never being one to miss a chance, I began asking questions--after explaining, of course, the reason for my burning (!) curiosity. Needless to say, I discovered that while my research had been pretty solid in terms of training requirements, compensation, and equipment, what was missing was the human factor.

They described to me the remarkable commitment involved in becoming volunteer firefighters. I knew an investment of at least 100 hours in training was necessary in many cases before volunteers would be allowed to perform tasks required of rural firefighters, but when the women talked about entire weekends devoted to long training sessions, I could see the commitment was actually one shared by the family as a whole. They mentioned the ubiquitous pager, the 24/7-365 availability, Christmas dinners interrupted, late night calls, and how firefighting could take top priority in their lives without notice. They also stressed the inevitable risks their husbands face when responding to calls, and I could see it was a constant concern for them.

And of course we must always remember that rural volunteer firefighters, unlike professionals, also have day jobs. They are farmers, plumbers, auto mechanics or store clerks who sacrifice their off-hours to respond when their neighbours are in crisis and dial 9-1-1. They must not only be committed, prepared and dedicated, but tireless as well.

As with most research, only a fraction of what I've learned about volunteer firefighters will actually make it into the manuscript, as the characters in this case are minor and only appear in one chapter. Nevertheless, I've learned things that make me much more appreciative of the individuals who commit themselves to a second career as a volunteer firefighter, and I'm thankful their counterparts are standing by to respond here in rural Grenville County, should I ever need them at my home.

Take some time to learn more about volunteer firefighters in your region, and support them wholeheartedly whenever you have the opportunity!

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Home Child

I'm very pleased to announce that our imprint, The Plaid Raccoon Press, has launched a new publication by debut author Lynn L. Clark entitled The Home Child.

Set in Grenville County in eastern Ontario, The Home Child tells the story of Jake Hall, a transplanted city dweller trying to adjust to the realities of country life. He knows it isn't going to be an easy transition. He's prepared for major renovations to the old farm house he's bought, but what he hasn't counted on is finding a former resident still inhabiting the house in spirit form!

Set against the backdrop of a rural town in transition, this story combines historical detail and the supernatural in the poignant tale of the spirit of a  home child wanting simply to be reunited with the family he lost so many years ago.

Now that Lynn has published her first novel of the supernatural, she has agreed to assume full editorial control of our sister blog, Behind the Walls of Nightmare, which will continue to focus on the horror genre, including topics related to my supernatural thriller, The Ghost Man. Meanwhile, I'll be managing The Overnight Bestseller right here.

Lynn is already busy at work on her next supernatural novel, so be sure to follow Behind the Walls of Nightmare for all the latest news on The Home Child and updates on what's coming next.

Congratulations, Lynn! As the raccoon would say, pass the rainbow trout and let's celebrate!

Purchase The Home Child for your Kindle
For various e-readers:
In paperback from Amazon