Fraud

Fraud

Fraud | Guy L. PaceFraud is a deceit, trickery, or con perpetrated for profit, according to Dictionary.Com. We hear about fraud all the time, maybe not with that particular term, but it all boils down to the same thing. It feeds on human greed.

Greed, of course, is one of the Seven Deadly Sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth). Boy, are we going to have fun with these over the next few posts.

I sometimes think we missed getting an eighth sin in there. Gullibility.

Moving on.

Frailties

Fraud includes scams and things that prey on human frailties and the most common frailty is gullibility. Most recently–on Facebook–a post being share around claims some random Facebook users will be selected for various prizes from the Ellen Degeneres show. When I see someone I know posting these things, I let them know it is a fraud and to delete it. In this case, Facebook removed the post in question and I didn’t get any copies of the text for analysis. Sorry.

But, that’s my old IT security dude coming out. We need to look at the kinds of messages that gets folks to share, forward, repeat these scams. One, they claim to be from some pop-culture, popular organization or individual. Two, they offer “too good to be true” prizes, gifts, miracles. Three, all you have to do is like, share, copy/paste/post, or otherwise perpetuate the hoax.

It doesn’t seem to matter there’s no possibility of getting one of the prizes mentioned just for liking or sharing it. Folks get sucked in every time. It is no surprise. Every part of the fraud message is designed to get a greed, lust, pride, wrath, envy response–depending on the goal of the message. The perpetrators of these had a lot of practice. Remember the old chain emails and Nigerian 419 scams in the ’80’s and ’90’s?

Character

How does this translate to our writing? Well, character. We build characters to reflect the human condition. And most humans are pretty gullible, among other things. Based on what we see on Facebook, a few choice turns of phrase easily manipulate people. Temptations that feed on our greed, lust, or pride.

A fellow author, Thomas Waite, recently released his new novel Shadowed (this is an adult-themed novel, so you’ve been warned). The main character, Dylan, is my case in point. Dylan’s main flaw is his gullibility (Thomas, you can argue this, he’s your character). The bad guy sucks him into situations that compromise him, his future, and his love interest, and could have ended his life. He makes bad decisions. Repeatedly. That’s about all I can say without spoiling a great read for you.

But the character Dylan is like most of us, woefully unprepared for the bad guys. We don’t recognize the signs, the language, the dangers. Until it is too late. On Facebook, the end result is often a compromised account. In real life, the end result may be yellow tape around a crime scene and a chalk marked silhouette.

Apply the Flaw

Isn’t this the stuff of thrillers, though? The flawed main character, the long con, the love interest, the really bad guy.

So, apply the flaw. Make the main character gullible. Use what you see on Facebook for examples of how to dupe and manipulate. Think like the bad guy. What can the bad guy get the main character to do? How will he/she approach it? Have some fun. I think Thomas had a lot of fun writing Shadowed.

Remember. The good guy has to have some redeeming quality that allows him to win out in the end. Just saying.

Keep writing.

 

Categories

Categories

Categories | Guy L. PaceSomeone, somewhere, defines and decides what to label things. They put things in categories. They set the criteria for the pigeon holes into which things are stuffed.

The publishing industry is much like the old hardware stores, where walls of tiny little drawers house little parts of an endless variety. Someone in those old stores knew how to find even the most obscure part, screw, or nail. It was a gift.

Those old hardware stores are gone. But, in the publishing industry, those categories are still around. And they change. Sometimes they change year to year. Sometimes they change from one bookstore to another. Even online booksellers have different, often incompatible, categories.

Amazon

Amazon allows an author to set up the categories for his/her book(s). As the author dives into this, though, restrictions rear their ugly head. Certain topic areas can’t be included in certain age categories, for example. You can’t start with science fiction, and roll down to teen or young adult and then Christian. You have go another way.

Then there are limits to how closely you can define your genre via the categories. Some allow only two or three levels.

Publisher

When Sudden Mission was first published, the publisher set the primary category as “middle grade.” I thought that included teen or early teen. Silly me. I found out that this put my books in the classification of children’s books. I don’t think the Spirit Missions books qualify as children’s books.

So, when I re-launched the books after that first publisher closed their doors, I set the initial categories as teen or young adult. Then I had to struggle to get things to accept Christian and science fiction as a genre. What fun.

Maddening

Sometimes the whole category things gets a bit maddening. I grew up reading science fiction, but that’s not all. I read biographies, mysteries, historical novels, history, drama, and classic literature. Even Shakespeare’s plays. My favorites were Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and Midsummer Night’s Dream. So, how does one categorize all that?

Or, how important is it to categorize all that?

Could the entire motivation to read something is for a good story. Interesting and compelling. A good story.

Maybe the only category we really need for books is “a good story.”

Keep writing.

 

P.S. The summer and early fall have been very busy with travel and other things. I hope you stick with me.

A Journey

A Journey

Route PlanToo often we define a trip as going from point A to point B. The goal being to get from one place to the other as quickly as possible. But, a journey is all about what is along the way.

This is one reason I dislike traveling on freeways. You go too fast. You spend most of your time focused on the road and going around trucks. The vast world around you is no more than a blurred landscape sliding by your car window.

I like US Highways, state routes and little country roads–farm to market roads. They are slower, more interesting, quieter. I also prefer to travel by motorcycle. The car takes you out of the environment and detaches you from what you might see. On a motorcycle, you are IN the environment. You see, smell, hear, feel, everything around you. That’s important in a journey.

Automatic Friends

When you stop for fuel or a stretch, other motorcyclists are automatically friends. The usual greetings involve your destination, your routes, what you might have seen. Language, ethnic, and nationality barriers disappear as you compare maps or statistics of your rides.

But, when you are riding, you are alone. Alone to absorb the views, the smells, the heat, the cold, rain and hail. To experience. You aren’t detached. You aren’t separated from the experience, you’re part of it.

I like passing through small towns, sometimes making a stop at a local cafe filled with local people. I enjoy eavesdropping on the conversations about family, work, crops, weather. Sometimes, I just invite myself into a group and listen to their stories. They are people. Part of the landscape. It’s amazing how often folks welcome your participation.

No matter how desolate and uninteresting some places may seem, someone lives there. Someone makes a home, works, raises a family, finds value in that place.

Flat

Some places are surprisingly beautiful. Bonneville Salt Flats qualifies. The first view arriving from the west enthralls. Intense white of the vast flats, the azure blue of the little lakes, the brown of the distant mountains. Stunning. And, yes, they are flat. The Flats are so large, you can stand out in the middle and I swear you can see the curvature of the earth.

Yes, it’s salt. A result of a natural process of the seasons that saturate the ground, exact the salt, and dry out to the huge flat basin. And, yes, it is fun to go fast on it.

I live most of my days at about 2,600 feet elevation. I just spent a few days riding roads that didn’t drop below 5,000 feet elevation. How amazing is that? The terrain changed constantly from desolate desert, dry lakes, and long, straight, stretches of road, to twisty routes up a couple of thousand feet to a pass, and then back down again to huge basins that were once the bottoms of shallow inland seas. The Great Basin.

There was a storm. Thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. I had no shelter, so I just experienced it. I was in the moment and rode through it. What else can you do? I was dry again in a few minutes.

Sheep

You find these things in the journey. The small delays, the inconveniences. They happen. Like the time I saw thousands of little white wooly clouds spread across a plain of sage and cheat grass. I slowed. Out on the plain were two old style sheepherder’s wagons. No longer pulled by horses, but by pickup trucks. The sheep men still used dogs and cared for their bands. I paused while a small part of the flock got ushered away from the road. I traveled on.

It does no good to get frustrated, the sheep are in no hurry. It’s all part of the journey.

Home Again

But, it’s always good to come home. Home, where you can recharge and review the experience. Where you can share it with family and friends. Most do not understand the depth of the experience, or the impact it had on you. But that’s okay. You experienced it. The journey.

It’s yours to keep.

Keep writing.

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Birthday | Guy L. PaceWell, Happy Birthday to me, anyway.

I know we celebrate our nation’s birth with the signing of The Declaration of Independence on July 4. Actually the delegates endorsed it on July 2, 1776. Congress adopted it on July 4, 1776. So, this little celebration I’m launching will cover these days–which includes my own birthday.

July 3 is an important date throughout history. For example:

  • 1035, William the Conqueror became Duke of Normandy;
  • 1863, Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg;
  • 1890, Idaho admitted to the US;
  • 1962, Jackie Robinson inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame;
  • 1996, the Stone of Scone returned to Scotland.

So, yes, there is reason to celebrate and here we go.

Still, you all are the ones getting the gifts.

First Gift

Here’s the deal. I’m making the Amazon e-book editions of Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers free ($0.00) on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Just for the one day. That’s tomorrow.

If you already have the ebooks, you can gift them to friends. You can also share this post with others. I’ll link on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, so if you are on those platforms, you can share the information there. And, please do so.

Second Gift

Carolina Dawn | Guy L. PaceThe Amazon e-book edition of Carolina Dawn goes on sale–a countdown sale–starting today. It starts at $0.99, shifts to $1.99 later on July 3, then goes back to the regular price of $2.99 at midnight on July 4. That’s Pacific Daylight Time, if you’re in another time zone.

If you already have it, again, you can gift it to others at these prices. As above, share this on the social media of your choice.

Reviews

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m always trying to find more reviews for Spirit Missions books. If you take advantage of this celebration, please take a few minutes to post a review or rating on Amazon. Anything helps.

So, let the celebration begin!

Keep writing.

 

Reviews & Reviewing

Reviews & Reviewing

Reviews | Guy L. PaceI’m involved in a round-robin review group for Christian writers on Goodreads. I love writing and reading. Reviewing other’s work is a challenge.

I don’t mind getting reviews from others, be they readers or writers. I learn from them no matter how critical they might get. But, writing a review of someone else’s work … that can be a minefield.

Fortunately, the folks involved in the round-robin are honest and direct, and give good reviews.

I wrote a couple of reviews so far and they were honest, constructive reviews of stories that I liked. They aren’t my normal reading fare, but it never hurts to explore new material. I posted the reviews, then crawled into a corner until the authors responded positively to the comments.

Whew!

More Reviews

I’m well into another book that I’m enjoying and will review it soon. In addition, I have some new reviews for Sudden Mission, both on Amazon and Goodreads. In this next round, I hope to see more reviews of Nasty Leftovers. This round-robin works out well, and my reviews are increasing.

Granted, the new reviews are by other authors and not my target audience (teens). But, getting teens to review on Amazon or anywhere else is very difficult. I used a little meme on Facebook a couple of times to prod folks to review.

Reviewing | Guy L. PaceThe rules are simple, if not completely accurate today. I know Amazon has changed some of their rules for reviews. For example, they usually do not accept reviews of books by friends of the author, or family members. How they figure that out is beyond me.

The Rules

As for Rule #1, that is true. But, if you buy the book and review it, you get a “verified purchase” tag on your review. That might impact the “algorithms.”

Rule #4, though, is the most important. Authors need reviews. More reviews move a book’s status in the rankings on Amazon. They make the title more visible to other readers. They help other readers make decisions on what to choose to read.

Sure, not all reviews or ratings are five-star. Not everyone likes the same thing. My books aren’t everyone’s favorite genre. But, a review is a review and I appreciate every single one I get.

Hurts

Some comments in reviews can inflict pain in the author. That’s part of growing a thick skin–which we need to survive. No one is perfect, no author writes a perfect book. Accepting that and moving on is important.

I try to keep that in mind as I review other author’s work. No, the book isn’t my cup of tea. Maybe the book needs an editor. Maybe there are issues with the story. But, I can address that with constructive, positive comments. I made the mistake of being too blunt and critical in a review once. It hurt a relationship. That’s the minefield I mentioned earlier.

Care. You write and you read. The only way this business can get better is if we all care and comment positively and constructively.

Keep reading.

Keep writing.