U.S.Government Supports Romance

For Love … And Money

We all know that writers have a hard time making any money at their craft.  Unless you are one of the few at the very top, making a living through fiction writing is difficult – unless you lower your standard of living.  Can’t do that?  Then don’t give up your day job. 

One of the items circulating the Internet lately says that the City of Philadelphia now requires all bloggers to purchase a business privilege license for $300.  Whoa.  Three hundred bucks to be allowed to blog?  And that is a “privilege” license? 

Actually, that information is not quite right. Philadelphia requires that those making money on their blog have a license. The $300 is for a lifetime license, or you could pay $50 for one year.

Still, it is a tax to blog, more or less.

But the federal government is more generous to writers.

 In some ways.

If you write romance.

In Wastebook 2013, by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, one of the senator tom colburnitems he discusses is the Popular Romance Project.  In fiscal year 2013, the project received approximately $914,000. The purpose of the program is to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.”

Wow!  An ambitious project, and certainly one that would need nearly a million bucks of taxpayers’ money.

It aims to  “bring new audiences into the conversation about the nature of love, romance, and their expression in novels and popular culture more broadly” through four programs:

   A documentary entitled “Love Between the Covers”;

   An interactive website dedicated to romance and romance novels;

   An academic symposium on “the past and future of the romance novel” hosted by the Library of Congress Center for the Book; and

   A “nationwide series of library programs dealing with the past, present, and future of the romance novel” with a traveling exhibit.

 I can see that they may need more money.

 Here’s a few of the website topics included:

   Team Edwteam edwardard or Team Jacob?

 “Are heroes like Edward romantic or controlling?” ponders the Popular Romance Project website, referring to the vampire character in the Twilight.

    Call Me Maybe:

The Popular Romance Project website celebrates Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song “Call Me Maybe” as a “fun, flirty invitation to a dreamy crush” and examines how the song’s video has provokes some “very interesting conversations about contemporary romance.”

   The Spy Who Loved Me:                                               .      the spy who loved me .

The romance of British Secret Service Agent James Bond, 007, is examined by the Popular Romance Project website, noting that “the recurrent death of romance is fundamental to the 007 franchise. What can popular romance scholars make of this motif?

 Given that this industry generated over $1.4 Billion in 2012, and remains as hot as ever, is this really the way to spend our tax money? 

 I write mystery and suspense books.

 Now, if the money were spent on the mystery and suspense area, well, then …


Any comments?  Is this a terrible waste of taxes – or …

And you can see what I write (not on a government site or supported by tax dollars) at:  http://amzn.to/1eeykvG



The Key to Writing the Short Story

 Galand Nuchols grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois before moving to Texas and attending college here.  She galand-2taught for twenty-two years, ranging from second grade to high school. When she retired, she began writing.  What a great move that was for young readers. Galand writes YA and middle reader books that are very interesting and always have a moral in them. And they appeal to boys as well as girls.  She also is a strong proponent of the short story, as she will tell you now. And, she’s giving away a copy of Now Where Did That Come From? to someone who leaves a comment.  Galand –

My grandmother had a reputation for having the last laugh when it came to getting even. Tricks and retaliation was a form of entertainment for people living in our rural community before television, laptops, handheld computers, and texting. Stories of Grandma’s escapades, as well as the outrageous doings of other family members, have been orally handed down generation after generation. Several years ago my sister and I decided to record the tales for future generations.

 We filled notebooks with the anecdotes we remembered and those that family members and neighbors shared with us. We were fortunate to have some old pictures of great-grandparents and a picture of the home place from a hundred years ago. We organized it, printed it, and gave it to family members scattered throughout the United States. It was work but a satisfying endeavor. We ended the book with a challenge to future generations to continue recording their own stories.

Then the Northeast Texas Writers’ Organization (NETWO) compiled an anthology of short stories, A Treasure Box. A paragraph or two revealing information about the author and his or her thoughts about writing followed each story and made the work unique. I was caught up in the excitement of being a part of the creating process.

These two projects lead me, a retired teacher, to consider the possibility of enticing parents, grandparents, and students of all ages to begin writing short stories about their own families or about something that interested them. A picture or news item can be a seed that blossoms into a full-fledged fiction story. An article in the LongviewNewsJournal about a UFO over Stevensville, Texas tickled my imagination and “Strangers in our Midst” was born. A friend losing her dentures inspired “The Losing Place.” There is a tiny seed of truth buried somewhere in each story, but the tale is purely a creation of my imagination. Many of the settings for my fiction stories, however, are from the farm where I grew up or in our Southern Illinois community.

Would an anthology of stories with a paragraph or two after each galand - now where did that come from explaining where the idea for the story came from be entertaining and encourage readers to begin writing their own stories? With that question mind, I began collecting my favorite stories, writing a paragraph or two describing the source of the idea or seed for the story. After much tweaking, Now Where Did That Come From? was published. When a reader contacted me and said she was going to write a story about an event in her childhood, I felt the thrill of success.

Some people express their feelings and ideas on canvas; some sculpt in stone, wood, and clay, some in music or poetry. I find satisfaction in creating characters who meet and overcome various challenges in their life.


JIM:  Thanks, Galand.  You’ve shown us where to find the ideas for short stories.  Now, we can get busy, write a few, and enter the latest NETWO short story contest.  For more information on the short story contest, visit www.netwo.org.  And for a closer look at Now Where Did That Come From?, click here.  And don’t forget to click on the “Like” button.  And lastly, leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Galand’s book of short stories. Thanks.

What’s the Deal with Back Story?


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While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane Mulligan has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora … Continue reading

From the Middle of a Forest – Linda Yezak


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Today, we’re interviewing Linda Yezak, who lives in a forest in east Texas and writes uplifting books about second chances, love, forgiveness, and new beginnings.  Jim:  Linda, you’ve written books with other authors.  Tell us about that experience.  Linda:  I’ve … Continue reading

It’s 1984, Modernized

Quick, now. How many great inventions can you name that get turned into something most undesirable?

That many? That’s more than I thought of.

 What brought this to mind was a piece I read on the Internet thatred_cell_phone said, as part of its promotion,  just type in a cell phone number and they would tell you its location.  Interesting.  But, they weren’t suggesting that you had misplaced it and they will tell you it’is on the table beside your bed.  No, they were saying if you typed in, say, my cell phone number, they would tell you where in the world I was at the moment.

 That could be very helpful—under certain circumstances.

 Another company advertised that for less than $200, you could have an app that would monitor a mobile phone’s text messages, call logs, emails sent and received, and the location of the phone.

 A parent can know where her children are.  Or who is contacting them.

 But, can you envision that being misused.  I can without a moment’s hesitation.

 There are now apps (everything is an app today) that can capture computer, smart phone and tablet activity and put it into a file on the Internet that you can access from your smart phone or tablet.  They didn’t mean backing up your info.  You would be capturing someone else’s data.

 Again, I can see some good uses for this app.  But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a lawyer, to see the incredible number of abuses for this app.

 Some companies that make surveillance equipment are already selling governmentseye_pyramid_mason_236225 the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cell phone as they traveled around the world.  And we’ve all heard the controversy that arose over the NSA capturing the cell call activity of almost everyone in the U.S., although they said it was only the numbers called and the length of the calls, not the actual conversation.

 One company offered “remote monitoring,” up and running in ten minutes, and pay-as-you-go, no contract.  It didn’t sound like a baby monitoring system.

 I read another article recently that said big department stores would soon be able to track which isles you traveled and how much time you spent in a particular area, and even send you a text message suggesting some additional purchases, based on what you were looking at.

 Personally, that’s help I do not want.                               1984

 In 1984, Big Brother was watching you. But it’s now 2014, and we’ve advanced in those 30 years.  Now, anybody can track you and see what you text.  I may ditch my cell phone. 


I’d like to hear your comments on this “break-through. Or other great ideas that turn sour.  Jim Callan


What a Synopsis Is – and Is NOT


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After retiring from her work as a medical coder and bookkeeper, Janet Brown took up writing.  Her writing goes from YA to inspirational, to adult mystery.  In fact, I am almost finished with her mystery, CATastrophic Connections, and I can … Continue reading

Book Publishing Continues to Change

Cleansed_by_Fire_cover blog 3
Last month, one of my mysteries,
Cleansed by Fire, was released as an audio book.  Oh, it had been released as a paperback book and then later as an e-pub.  But there was still a bit of excitement when it came out in audio.  Maybe it was because the narrator (Jonathan Mumm, an Emmy Award Winning TV journalist) seemed to capture the characters as I had heard them as I was writing the book.  Maybe it was a hope to make additional royalties on the same book.

 But, I think it’s more than that. A writer wants, most of all, to have his or her work read and enjoyed. I really like the book and this gives the book yet another avenue to reach readers, or listeners in this case.

 I had an earlier book of mine turned into an Audio book.  While it sold well, reaching number seven on the publishers list, the process was rather impersonal.  I had no say in who narrated it.  I had no say in what the cover looked like.  I had no say – in anything.

 That was not the approach at Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX.  As the name implies, it is an exchange that brings together the rights holders of books and producers/narrators. It is part of Audible.com which is a subsidiary of Amazon.  

If you own the rights to a book, ACX will post information about the book and a short selection from the book (something that can be read aloud in less than five minutes). Prospective narrators can then submit their rendition of that short piece, giving you, the rights holder, a chance to hear how they sound reading your work, interpreting your characters.

 Please note, I am saying “rights holder,” not author.  If you have assigned the audio rights to a publisher, ACX cannot deal with you, even though you are the author.

 Having someone narrate a full length novel can be an expensive process.  What do I mean by that?  Of course, it depends on the length of your book.  It might cost $350 to $450 per finished hour of the book.  So, a 75,000 word book could cost between $2800 and $3600 for the narrator.  Keep in mind that the narrator and producer (could be the same person) will spend a number of hours to produce one hour of the finished product.

 ACX offers another path. You can offer to split the royalties with the narrator, 50-50. If ACX pays 40% royalty, then you would get 20% and the narrator would get 20%.  It’s a gamble for you and for the narrator.  Still, it offers the writer (rights holder) an opportunity to broaden her reach with no outlay of money.

 Of course, you may not find a qualified narrator who will go to the work of producing a quality recording (ACX demands high quality) unless you do a good job of selling your book.  This is much the same way you have to entice an editor or agent to work on your book for no guarantee of a return. 

 ACX does offer yet another possibility for you.  You can narrate the book yourself.  ACX does require a high quality finished recording and can return your effort with instructions of how to improve it. Their site even offers advice on how to set up a home recording studio. 

 ACX is trying to help authors get their book into audio. Once the product is released, ACX will make it available through Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.

 The point here is, in today’s changing publishing world, you have more choices than ever before. One of them is a different route to an audio book.  If you have a book on Amazon and you hold the audio rights, it is worth your time to investigate ACX and what they have to offer.  Go to www.acx.com and check out how they work to bring your audio book to the marketplace. I did and I’m glad I did.  Take a look at:  http://bit.ly/1zsb0I0  Mumm, the narrator, also produced a great trailer for the book.  You can see it here.

Leave a comment on your thoughts about audio books.  And ask for a code for a free download of the audio book Cleansed by Fire.




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Today’s guest is Patty Wiseman, a lifetime member of the Worldwide Who’s Who for Professional Women and the author of historical romances.  Twice she has won first place in romance with the Texas Association of Authors. Here’s some important advice … Continue reading

The Six Most Difficult Things for a Novelist to Do


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Today’s guest post is from Jim Ainsworth, an excellent writer and a true gentleman.  He got into writing while he was working as an accountant.  A publisher approached him and ask him to write a book on some phase of … Continue reading