Lovers Love Leaves

Zephyrs

zephyrs rustle
the fallen leaves
around our feet–
your laughter
my stale jokes
two lovers loving
autumn leaves
Flourish.Gordon Johnson

If you enjoy my poems you may be interested in my anthology of stories and poems. The e-book sells on Amazon for $3.99 US, the paperback for $10.99. This collection would make a great home-and-family type Christmas gift, especially for a nature lover.

cover page

I’ve  just checked the status of this book on Amazon’s KINDLE SELECT and I appear to have missed the cancellation date. Consequently SILVER MORNING SONG will be free to read, for subscribers of Kindle Select, until Feb 8th, 2020.

PS: The little flourish under my poem was done by Gordon Johnson and is one of the free images at Pixabay.

Disillusioned!

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t believe everything you read, so maybe this article isn’t true. Maybe this lady doesn’t really post five-star reviews on Amazon for stuff she’s never tried. The article is fiction — or at least distortion of the facts.

But maybe it is true. Maybe she does. And maybe there are dozens of others like her?

If today’s writing challenge were the word Dismayed, Dishonest, False, or even Phony, I’d have an easier time launching into this. But the Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is PASSAGE.

Well then, I’ve just made a swift passage from credulity to incredulity.

When I turn on my computer in the morning I get a selection of interesting news articles to choose from. This morning BuzzFeed News offered an intriguing headline about  someone who writes fake reviews of products and posts them on Amazon. READ IT HERE.

Those of us who write and have books listed on Amazon know how important reviews are. Potential readers scan the lists of books in their genre and decide — often based on reviews left by other readers — whether the book is worth their reading time. And I know there was a time when friends, relatives, and fans of this particular writer would load Amazon with glowing reviews. At times, having read the book myself, I’d shake my head and scroll down a page, where I’d see more honest reviews. “Poorly written,” “needs editing,” “grammar mistakes and typos,” “limp characters.”

Amazon has weeded out a lot of these reviews by ruling that only VERIFIED PURCHASERS may review and NO REVIEWS IN EXCHANGE FOR a free book or an equally glowing review of the other writer’s book. There was a time when small companies could make a profit by selling reviews to authors. Now the rule is NO PAID REVIEWS.

But I gather from the article I’ve just read that there are loopholes and some people are finding quite lucrative ones. Free products and even financial reimbursements from the advertiser, lots of freebies that make good gifts for friends.

While she may make some negative comments, the Reviewer in this article gives five-star reviews on all products, not matter what she actually thinks of them — or if she even tries them. But one day a co-worker asked about a product she’d reviewed and she admitted this is simply a way to get freebies and make a bit on the side. The coworker was disappointed that the review wasn’t honest.

“I definitely feel like I have to keep it a secret from people who have strong morals,” the Reviewer told the article writer.

She admits that for safety reasons she’s afraid to try some electrical devices from lands afar, but gives them a good review anyway. Her boyfriend’s a chemist and has discovered toxic ingredients in some skin care products, so she’s leery of trying them.

According to the article, a lot of her business is with small businesses in China—often claiming to be family-owned. Companies want to get their products taken seriously on Amazon and some are willing to cheat to do it, reimbursing purchasers and even paying a small fee. Sadly, where not-quite-honest people are looking for some small passage through the tangle of rules, they will find it somehow.

Oh, buyer beware!

The Garden in Winter

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been away most of this month on an exciting — read: frustrating, glitch-riddled, nail-gnawing, hair-tearing — adventure of putting together a manuscript for publication. The result being that — ta da! — the allegory HARI & RUDI IN THE LAND OF FRUIT is now a published work, available on Amazon in both print and e-book format. Saturday evening, with the author’s go-ahead, I hit the PUBLISH button and by Sunday evening both formats were LIVE. (See cover and details at the bottom of this post.)

There is so much to learn in this “amazingly simple process.” (Much thanks to son-in-law Ken for all the fiddling needed to produce super front & back cover graphics!) However, we plowed through and are rewarded with a listing on Amazon. Which brings up another issue: how to get reviews for the book. Amazon is clamping down on what they call “solicited reviews” — you can’t get all your friends to post five-star reviews — and the company now only accepts reviews from people who have spent $50 on Amazon in the last year. As I said, so much to learn!

I won’t go on about this…maybe someday I’ll share more about the process, the lessons I’ve learned and glitches that came up. Right now I’m turning my thoughts homeward — and my home needs some thought by now! Plus, it’s high time to do another blog post.

I see that The Ragtag Community Daily prompt word is GARDEN and I’m going to respond with a couple of haiku scribbled in haste. Maybe not the greatest verses but they definitely reflect what we’re seeing outside these days. February has been extremely cold and during the past week a lot of snow has fallen over our yards and gardens. Not to complain; we prairie folk will always take more snow.

Snowed under

banks of snow blanket
a garden there once was
sweet dreams, gardener

the garden of my mind
blooms with many floral scenes
growing mound of notes

Border circles (3)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Feb 13 19 ebook cover -1

Hari and Rudi, two teens in Lancashire, England, skip school one morning and happen upon a houseboat that’s been docked while the owners go shopping. They decide to explore the boat and have far more adventure than they want when the craft comes loose from its moorings and carries them down the river and into a whirlpool. The boat breaks up and the boys are about to be sucked down to a watery death when they are miraculously rescued and facing an adventure of a far different kind.

Waking up in a strange country, they meet the first of many beings representing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They begin their allegorical journey through this curious land; they see Jesus and witness his death on Calvary; then, with the help of Joy, Peace, Love, Patience, Goodness and other fruit of the Holy Spirit, they learn important lessons in Christian life.

Writing Meaningful Verses

This morning, housebound and wandering round the web again, I came upon this post over at Penumbra Haiku. Interesting reading the various definitions and quotes from famous poets! A Poet Is

A Few More Thoughts On Writing Haiku

As you will know by now, I enjoy reading and writing haiku. There are a number of online sites dedicated to this art form — Cattails, Frogpond Journal, The Heron’s Nest, to name a few — plus there are bloggers who post their verses like I do on Tree Top Haiku and like the above blogger does.

Haiku, if done well, can really speak to you, catching a brief but touching scene, or revealing an interesting quirk of human nature. I follow The Haiku Foundation’s blog and have read some deep verses, both in their Troutswirl e-zine and in their featured books.

For some time now I’ve been thinking of publishing an e-book of haiku myself and last night I started this project, choosing the most-liked verses from both blogs. Mind you, I did it to gain practice in formatting an e-book as well as to publish my verses. I’ve been working on an allegory, editing and then setting it up as a print book to be published shortly, and the author wants me to publish as an e-book as well. I have the means to do e-publishing with my current WordPerfect version but hadn’t tried it out yet.

Wondering what the competition is like, I hopped over to Amazon to check out the poetry books listed there. First point noted is that haiku is “free verse” — in the literal sense as well as the figurative. Most of the haiku books listed on Amazon are “Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited.”

In the other corner, one brave poet listed his e-book of haiku for $24. Good luck with that.

Second point noted: one poet has seemingly flooded the haiku-book market. I saw at least two dozen of her books listed, but then I saw that one of her books had only nine verses, some others had only four. Book descriptions read like:
Given title. It is an e-book. 5-7-5 Haiku Quality

Hmm…

I checked out a couple, since they’re free for KD subscribers. Hmm…

My thoughts went back to an incident thirty-some years ago, when I was making a serious effort to learn French. Since I’d never lived in a French area, I had only an occasional opportunity to practice with the few local francophones in our community, but I did what I could when I could.

One day I was trying to converse with a young man from a francophone family in Dorval, Quebec, who’d travelled extensively in North America before settling in our area. His English was impeccable, but his tact wasn’t the best. After one quick practice session he told me — in an intriguing blend of kindness and honesty, “After you’ve learned French well, you’ll know how poorly you speak it now.”

Whimper.

But it was the truth. Once we lived in Quebec four years and I learned to speak it better — though never fluently— I knew what he meant. That’s what life and learning are all about.

When it comes to haiku, I have much to learn myself. However, poems like these (my examples) can’t really be classed as haiku:

yet I’ve
always
thought it so

today
I learned
I was wrong

One day a few weeks back I had to laugh when I saw a verse in an online book; it read (something like):

melon
inscrutably
meloning

This led me to write my own verse:

coconut
inexplicably
a nut

And then:

sunrise
promises
sunset

From what I have gleaned about haiku so far — as well as other modern short poems — writers should tell you what they see, but not what they think or conclude. These examples tell you plainly what I’ve seen AND what I want you to see or conclude:

her new outfit
too tight — nothing left
to the imagination

goose hunter
displays three dead birds
proud as a peacock

Verses aren’t to be disjointed to the point of confusion:

oil derricks pumping
countries in consuming competition
with world politics

The verse should not be just a sentence divided in three, nor use a telegraph style:

wind in wheat field
swirls heavy heads
of golden harvest

But rather leave you with a scene, imagining what happened or drawing your own conclusion. I’d love to quote a dozen better poets here, but their works are copyright, so here are my own adaptations again:

walking at dusk
the winnow of the nighthawk
lifts my thoughts

partway down the street
your shape disappears
in the fog

While I’m dealing specifically with haiku in this post, the same is true of all poetry — and writing as a whole. We should make it as concise as possible, thought-inspiring, but still accessible. Paint the scene, but not explain it.

I Lift Up My Eyes and Behold!

It’s February! When did that happen?

Actually, I didn’t literally “lift them.” They moved themselves away from the computer monitor after a long formatting stint.

I’ve heard some writing gurus advise authors to “avoid wandering body parts.” Keep arms, legs, eyes, etc, in the body at all times. Don’t say, “He threw a hand up in the air,” or “She cast her eyes toward the open door where her co-worker stood,” or “His nose ran toward the scent of her perfume.”

But I did take a break and check the calendar. I’ve spent a month, off and on, preparing a book for publication. The originator is calling it Hari & Rudi in the Land of Fruit  and it’s an allegory along the lines of Pilgrim’s Progress, but involving two young teens. This story is actually the setting down of a dream the author had as a young lad in England back in the early 1970s.

Snail

I’ve been snailing along on this project for about eight weeks, but today I’ve finished formatting the manuscript, except for inserting the drawings. As soon as I have those, onto Amazon it goes. Stay tuned… And if you’re willing to write an unbiased review for Amazon, let me know. 🙂

The Word of the Day prompt this morning is LEARN. Very fitting. I have learned — and relearned — a number of things in the past month.
Like…
…how much time it takes to polish a manuscript. (Hint: you finally just give up.)
…once more, how to use WordPerfect to format the manuscript
…how much back-and-forth communication there must be between a writer and an editor.
…what differences exist between British English and ours on this side of the pond.

We’ve learned that pencil drawings do not work. They can’t be rendered clear enough to show up in an insertable file. However, when I said I needed pen drawings, the originator of the tale e-mailed back, “What do you mean by pen?”
(You British readers can tell us what a pen is called over there. In some books I’ve seen it called a byro. Pronounced like eye? Or like ear?)

My son-in-law did an excellent job with the cover graphics. I should write oodles more books to make use of his talents. However, the time involved in producing said books is rather off-putting. My original plan for January was to put my Sewing room to rights and finish projects there. 😉

I’ve learned how high the laundry can pile up in my clothes hamper and we still don’t run out of something to wear, and how much pasta you can eat before your noodle is fried. This all makes me think of Nano-Wrimo days. 😉

I’ve learned how one-track I can be. And maybe it’s necessary, because it would be so easy to push something like this off. I’ve taken time to read a few books for pleasure and a few books with British teen main characters for research, but most every day I’ve worked some on this project.

Thank to all of you who’ve been faithfully following my blog during the interim. I hope I can soon get some other things written. And I trust you’re keeping warm and/or enjoying the ups and downs of the season.

Writing Delights

Writing is a delightful pursuit. As some great author once said, “It’s easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.”

And then there’s the joy of editing, which I’ve tried to capture in this senryu:

editor slings red ink
bloodied words fly here and there
novel shavings
🙂

Alas! Those days are long gone when writers handed their books to an editor and the editorial staff did the fixing. Now it’s up to the writer to have the manuscript error-free and print-ready. Which usually means hiring a freelance editor.

Self-Publishing Options:
Print-on-demand companies like Amazon make publishing a price-painless proposition. Download a pdf, hit publish, and you’re good to go.

Now comes the joy of marketing. If a traditional publishing company is selling your book, they expect hands-on involvement from you. If you’ve self-published with Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or any similar company, your hands are the only ones working the Ads & Sales desk. Unless you have kin and friends who’ll help promote your book, you’re on your own.

Thankfully companies will help in small ways. I recently made a deal with PrairieView Press, the printer/seller of my children’s book, The Rescuing Day, to list it in a flyer they are sending out to bookstores.

Rescuing Day cover.jpg

Plus, I’ve just made an agreement with Amazon.com to do a special free book offer for my e-book, Silver Morning Song.

SMS Cover page
As you see in my side bar, my book will be free on Amazon.com this coming weekend, November 22 to 26. So if you enjoy my blog, with it’s mix of short fiction tales, poetry and micro-poetry, take this opportunity to get your free copy. Here’s the LINK.

NOTE: I wasn’t given the option to list this on Amazon.ca, so I’m not sure if you’ll find the FREE COPY listed there. If you’re a UK reader, I plan to make the same offer on Amazon.uk next month.

And of course, if you do pick up a copy, I’m really hoping you’ll leave an honest review on Amazon. Even a couple of sentences will help. Thanks much!