Category Archives: Writing

Open Letter to Amazon.com

Re: Amazon Reviews

Dear Mr. Bezos, et al,

I would like to take this opportunity to implore you to reconsider your decision to remove a number of reviews from your web site. I fully acknowledge that you, as the business, have a right to do as you see fit with your company. I would however, like to point out a few things to you regarding this new enforcement of a policy we were unaware existed.

By disallowing authors from posting reviews for books written by other authors, you are eliminating a huge venue for the promotion of the books you sell. As I am sure you are aware, for decades, publishing houses have relied on the “blurbs” of other authors to promote their books. This is common practice and should not play a role in the financial considerations of the “blurbing” author.

I hope you will reconsider your stance that authors are in competition with one another. This goes without saying, but with a few exceptions, authors have learned to co-exist peacefully without raking each other over the coals and trying to ruin one another.

Your determination that an author stands to gain financially in some manner when offering a review of another author’s book is simply befuddling. It’s a big industry and we deserve more credit than to be lumped in with the corporate moguls who are only in it for the money, no matter the cost to those they tromp on. I gain nothing by reviewing a book by Nora Roberts, except perhaps the knowledge that if I loved her latest book and say so, someone else will see my review on your site and buy that book to read.

I would also like to point out that there are by far more effective ways to handle some of the problems you have surely run up against in your review process. Instead of alienating us, why not incorporate some new aspects into the submission process. I would think that by allowing the reviewer to clearly state their relationship to the book (for example, a series of choices with radio buttons indicating this information):

  • Reader
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • Editor
  • Bookseller
  • Librarian

Other readers and potential consumers can decide on their own whether a certain review merits their consideration. I feel compelled to tell you that so many authors feel abused by Amazon.com with this enforcement of the “no competition review” rule. As it stands now, you are not only alienating publishers, editors, and authors, but also booksellers, as they are the ones who truly stand to gain financially by posting favorable or over-exaggerated reviews. How will you weed out their reviews?

On behalf of multi-purpose readers worldwide, please reconsider your actions and give some thought to simply allowing people to say how they feel, no matter who they are.

With respect,
Karen Syed
Multi-purpose reader

A Sneak Peek

The Meeting

Legs up to there and a smile that could melt the rocks from a glass of Bourbon. That’s what I see when I look at Universal Bureau of Investigation’s officer, Edmund St. John.

The impeccably dressed man strolled across the sidewalk and shoved the gate aside. He stepped around a small dog lying on the ground next to its lunching owner.

Now, I’m no expert on men, but I know what I like, and sister, I like the way the green eyes of this UBI agent simmer when he looks at me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the market for a man, but if I were, he’d be a damn good choice. Not that any of this matters.

The federal bureau went universal somewhere around 2020 and with it came a new breed of investigators. There was no choice when things changed. The crime in America grew at alarming paces after the turn of the new Millennium. Space exploration opened our country, hell our earth, to a new kind of terror. Growing up, we’d watched movies about aliens and space creatures, but no one would have ever imagined that the worst kind of creature would look just like us. There is no way to distinguish between humans and otherwise. I’ve never seen one of the outsiders, but that don’t mean I’m not on my guard all the time. There are some things that a girl can’t help but notice. Which brings me back to St. John.

Now, I make it a point, like everyone else, to notice St. John, but my lifeless long brown hair don’t offer an extraordinary enough view to attract more than a passing glance from him. I keep in good enough shape, but sometimes it’s not enough. Edmund’s eyes hold the same murky shadows of a jungle’s deepest greenery, fierce and dangerous, while mine are slightly darker than my hair. Nothing anyone chooses to gaze into, but I can live with that. With my usual long pants and button down blouses, most men don’t look any further than my smart mouth and knack for trouble. I don’t mind—much, since I don’t’ really need the complications of romance.

Our little neck of the woods doesn’t instill a keen sense of romance in anyone’s heart. Then again, what do you expect from Illinois. However, I’m certain that if I did decide I needed a man, Miller’s Pit would pull something out of its hat for me. Time didn’t change things that much. At the turn of the new Millennium, the United States had slipped quietly into the past, taking Miller’s Pit with it.

Boris Miller was the brilliant man who decided that since he had more money than anyone else did, he’d name the town after himself. The pit part came when his wife died by falling into a pit on his property. But none of that really matters. With my job, I don’t have time for love, or I wouldn’t if I could get a gig, which is why I’m here today. Well not exactly.

Gangsters are on the move and history is hell-bent on repeating itself. Prohibition has reared its ugly head once again and the UBI has its hands full with a ton of small battles destined to roll themselves into a full-scale war. At this rate, the twenty-first century will no doubt prove as thrilling as the last.

St. John sauntered up to my table. He leaned his head to the side and tipped his hat at the slender blonde sitting at the table behind me. I looked at my watch again. Quarter to ten. So much for our nine-thirty meeting. I often wonder if it’s not a G-man’s nature to be late. Maybe they think it will unnerve us and we’ll throw ourselves on the mercy of justice and confess to all our sins. If we had any that is.

As far as I can figure, St John’s biggest flaw is his lack of punctuality. My watch says that this is the fourth time in two weeks that I’ve had to wait for him to join me at The Shoppe. If I didn’t need his help, I’d be on my way to the office for some scintillating conversation with my cousin, Stuart.

“Hi ya, Doll.”

St. John’s voice wrapped around me like a smooth shot of brandy and I forced my mind back to the matter at hand. “If you refuse to call me Miss Gumshue, then I will gladly respond to Gloria, but please refrain from calling me Doll.”

The man has a habit of comparing me to any number of objects. I find the habit somewhat amusing, but to acknowledge this could settle us onto a new level of familiarity and that will not benefit our relationship.

I dab the fine mist of perspiration from my cheek and settle back in my café chair. The soft cotton fabric rustles as I make a show of arranging my skirt around my legs. I slip my feet out to the side and cross my ankles. With a little lean to the left, I offer St. John a healthy look at my legs, covered with sheer black stockings. I need something from him and there are very few ways of loosening his tongue.

This is not my normal attire, mind you, but some situations call for drastic measures. Once I discover what he knows and finish this meeting, I can head to the office and slip back into my slacks. In my line of work, I don’t have time to dawdle along in high heels and snug skirts. Thank you, dear women. I offer my silent gratitude to the dames of nearly a hundred years ago who made long pants the fashion for working girls during wartime. They do not, however, suit my needs at this moment.

St. John glances down and I know he’s noticed my slight shift in posture. He has a reputation for being hard as nails on the job, but a shapely leg supposedly turns him to a simpering charmer. He looks at my legs, whistles, and looks to my face again.

The sharp blast of a Ford horn rings out, but neither of us pays much attention. I’m too busy watching St. John, who is too busy eyeing my gams. He tosses his hat onto the table before carefully laying the jacket he’d been carrying, over the back of his chair. He folds himself into the small seat with an impressive display of masculine elegance. His navy blue trousers, freshly pressed pleats running down the front of decidedly slender legs, hug against his thighs. The pale yellow shirt contrasts sharply with his darkened skin. A brightly decorated tie, splashed with red, yellow, green, and gold sets off his entire ensemble.

That might seem like a strange word to describe a man’s clothing, but St. John is not your average G-man. He has flair. It shows in the way he dresses, each item perfectly coordinated to supply a certain style, and the way he works, meticulous and precise. Everywhere he goes people notice him. Mostly women, I note as a slender red head shimmies past him.

I chose The Shoppe for our meeting because of its very public location. The outside café tables offer a good view of Main Street as well as being close to my office. Being on the job makes my time valuable. Not having to get the car out saved me time. Having long legs has more than one good use, I think, watching St. John who keeps glancing down. I can walk to work in less time than it takes to get the Olds out of the parking garage. Lord knows why the lightweight sports car ever fell to the side of oversized heaps of metal.

Just for effect, I lean to the side, run my hand up the length of my calf, and check the seam of my stocking for straightness. Edmund never takes his eyes off my legs.

“Hmm,” he groans softly.

I look him directly in the eyes as I cross my legs. “When you’re done.”

His head snaps up and for a split second, he looks disoriented. His usual demeanor returns quickly and he slips back to his usual aloofness. “So, Gumshue, what’s got you all fired up today? Cat in a tree? Dog in a well?”

Edmund can’t possibly be so dense, then again G-men aren’t known for their IQ’s.

“St. John, I could take this to anyone, but I thought maybe your career could use a boost.” I take a sip of my joe. “Perhaps you missed that email.”

He snickers and the chase is on. My heart skips a beat at the possibility of going head to head with him and I smile.

“Does the name Eleanor Van Dresden set off any bells for you?”

Edmund pulls out a silver case and leans his arms against the edge of the table as he rolls a smoke.

I find myself enjoying the sweet smell of his imported tobacco as the smoke wafts in my direction. After a long and visually appealing pull on the cigarette he leans back in his chair.

“She’s a classy one,” he noted. “My kid sister claims her fashions are adored all over the world.”

I tap my fingernails against the glass tabletop as he ogles the shapely server tending the next table. The man has no shame. His intensity offers me the opportunity to notice a snag in my thumbnail. Maybe once I get a check for a gig, I’ll get myself a real manicure at one of those fancy salons in the city.

“I’m guessing the precinct boys haven’t clued your office in on the latest.”

St. John’s brow wrinkles as he turned his gaze back to me. “Cut to the chase, Gumshue.”

Ah, so now I have his attention, not that it bothers me, him watching the small brunette lean across a chair. “Van Dresden’s assistant filed a report several days ago. She claims someone has been threatening Dame Van Dresden.”

He shoots forward in his chair, his eyes blazing with a newfound determination. “I don’t get it, Doll. How is it you get the skinny before the Bureau of Investigations?”

His irritation sparks something inside me and I can’t stop myself from gloating. I make a mental note to keep it down to a minimal. “Well, let me think. I might have overheard old lady McGarrity talking about it when I was getting her cat, Milo, down from the tree.” His cheeks turn a pesky shade of pink as he glares in my direction.

“I’ve got better things to do with my time than hang out with a wiseguy in drag.”

“Keep it down, St. John. I’m willing to share what I know if you’d be so kind as to consider a partnership of sorts.”

I find his snort of laughter very unattractive. Downright rude, if you must know. I prefer to work alone, but in this instance the Bureau representative in question, in spite of his annoying tendencies, could offer me a few links I might not otherwise be privy to.

An older woman, with more than a little bustle backing her up, squeezes between Edmund and the chair behind him. The wind picks up and plucks a feather from her overzealous contraption of a hat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much pink and yellow settled on a puffed up bed of orange. While most of the women of the decade are wearing sleek sophisticated haircuts, this gem is boasting a horde of curls unlike any I’ve ever seen.

The feather settles on Edmund’s lap and I swallow past a moment of envy. I’ve never wanted to be a feather before.

“Gloria, I think you’re cracked. Even if I thought you knew something that we don’t—couldn’t find out on our own—why would I partner up with you?”

I signal the server for my check and then gather my purse and hat. I’ve gathered all the info I need and now it’s time to get to work. Oh, I have plans for Edmund St. John, but all in good time. For now, I have to take care of some things at the office so I can join the rest of our sleepy little town at a new kind of shindig.

At seven this evening, I will be sitting in the front row of the Cascade Theatre. Dame Van Dresden has chosen Miller’s Pit—although I can’t get a grip on why—to debut her new fall line of fashions. The town’s folks have been buzzing for weeks about this event and my mother managed to get prime seats for the entire family. Television crews from all over the world will be sending the show via the link, but we will count ourselves among the elite.

Lucille, that’s my mum, has got an in with just about anybody who is anybody in this town and the next three in every direction. She’s a homemaker, mother, and social guru, that’s what my dad calls her, unstoppable. No one ever tells her no. Well almost no one.

It’s taken me almost two years to rebuild our relationship. I told my mother no.

“Gloria, won’t you please stay at home a few more years, at least until you finish nursing school?”

“No, Mother. I know what I want to do and that’s not it.”

So, out I had moved and shortly after that I got my PI license. That’s Private Investigator. Dad was pretty pleased. Mum on the other hand cried for weeks and didn’t speak to me for twice as long. But anyway.

Tonight, we will be living the high life as special guests to the designer. Mum and Eleanor had been school chums at Miss Chatterham’s School of Etiquette for Demure Ladies. I could live without all the hullabaloo, but Mum deserves a night out and if Dad can do it, so can I.

I thank the server when she brings my change and I nod my goodbye to St. John.

“You dragged me all the way across town for this?” he asks, his annoyance clear in his caustic tone.

“I was mistaken that you could be of service to me at this time. I apologize for the inconvenience. See ya around, St. John.”

The slight tick in his jaw kicks up as I make my way around the table. The sensor catches my approach and the door swings open. I watch him from the corner of my eye as I pass by on my way out the side gate.

“One of these days, Doll, I’m not gonna jump when you say so.”

Maybe just not so high. A smile curves my lips. I can’t help liking the control I have over this particular man. He doesn’t know it, but Edmund St. John is as intrigued by me as I by him.

 

 

 

I Just Wanna Write

Okay, I am having one of those weeks. If you know me, you know that I am a bit of and overachiever. Have been my whole life. I tend to take on way more than I can handle and then stress out about not getting it done when it needs to be done. I know this, I admit this, and I apologize for this.

I am currently working on several projects that need to be done last week. I am editing three books, four short stories, and an anthology. Am I complaining? No, no, no. I love what I do and can only imagine doing one other thing.

I miss writing horribly. My husband says I need to spend half of my day working for others and half of the day writing and promoting my own books. I simply can’t do this. I have responsibilities and my personal pleasure cannot go before them.

Click Cover to Buy at Kindle!

I was recently accused of focusing too much on my personal writing career and not enough on my authors. Really? REALLY??? A couple Facebook posts a day is too much? Seriously! I woke up this morning with an idea swimming around in my head that is begging to be written, but I plunked myself down in my chair and began working on edits for a client. I have added the idea to my idea file, though that file now takes up about 2 GB on my hard drive…sigh

Not sure why I needed to put this out here. I guess I just needed the people I am working for to know that I am working for them and once I am done with their projects, I might take some time to write. After all, I do think I am pretty good at it. 🙂

 

 

 

Moonlight for Maggie (On Sale Now)

Moonlight for Maggie

Coming

September 1, 2012

Excerpt:

Maggie sat down on the step and buried her face in her hands. How could she stand there and lie to him like that? She’d never wanted anyone like she did him. Every time he came near her she wanted to reach out and touch him.

Then do something about it.

“What?”

Tell him. Show him. You’re a big girl; don’t you think it’s time you took control of your life, instead of hiding from it?

Maggie hated it when the voices inside her head made sense. But maybe it was time she took a risk. She stood and headed upstairs. The top step held two options. She could chicken out and hide in her room, or she could do what she really wanted.

She knocked on Paul’s door and waited for him to answer. When he didn’t she opened it anyway. He sat on the edge of his bed with his head resting on his hands. He didn’t look up when she closed the door behind her. She struggled for the right words to say, to tell him how she truly felt. Show him.

She reached up and stroked his hair. She stopped when he tensed. She started to pull away, but his hand caught hers. He pulled her against him and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, Paul.”

“I don’t know how to make you understand, Maggie.”

“I do.” Maggie pushed her fingers into his hair and held him tight against her.

“How do I know this is what you want?” He raised his head and stared into her eyes.

Pain and confusion and desire glistened in his eyes. Maggie sensed the depth of each emotion and drew on them. She lowered her head and softly brushed her lips across his. A soft sigh slipped out and blew across his mouth. A second later, his lips crushed against hers. She opened her lips to him and soared with the desperation in his kiss. Shivers of warning followed each stroke of his tongue. His hands moved down to her legs and one at a time pulled them up around him.

“I want to show you where you belong,” he whispered against her mouth.

Maggie turned her face into his neck and took a deep breath. She wanted to belong, more than anything. She pressed her lips against his warm skin and kissed him gently. His head rolled back. She nuzzled his cheek and his day’s growth of whisker brushed against her skin.

Dear Lendink

 

I don’t claim to know all the ins and outs of how this book business works, but I do know that I am offended on your behalf. Recently, your site was shut down because a group of authors decided you were a pirate. I visited your site. I read your FAQ page. I did some research and as far as I could discover you were doing exactly what you said you were doing.

I did NOT see any signs of a wooden leg, a hook where your hand should be, or a skull and crossbones flag hanging anywhere on your site. Nor did I see an eye patch, though you might have looked quite dashing in an eye patch.

I would like to take a moment to say thank you. Perhaps this is too late, perhaps not. I sincerely appreciate what you were trying to do buy leading readers by the virtual hand to the actual buy pages of the books I write and publish. I am constantly looking for new ways to market our books that do not require more time than I have to give. You did that, willingly, and legally, and you were cast out for your efforts.

::hangs head in shame:: I am sorry that not everyone felt the need to give you the benefit of the doubt and to take the time to figure out that you were acting on behalves and in fact doing us a FAVOR.

I would like to let you know that should you get your site back up and running, you have my permission to LEGALLY promote my books on your site. This goes for anyone who wants to LEGALLY introduce readers to the books of Echelon Press. Don’t steal from me, don’t distribute or lend our books without ensuring that the authors and I are being full compensated within our legal rights. But by all means, if you want to post covers and links to where readers can BUY our books LEGALLY, you have my blessing and my supports.

I am certain I am not the only one angered at your mistreatment. You can find another supporter at the blog of April L. Hamilton. http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/2012/08/congratulations-you-killed-lendink-and.html

Respectfully,

Karen L. Syed

 

 

 

 

Please Don’t Judge

I never claimed to be a poet, but I’ve been working on my family tree and I ran across a folder of my early attempts at it. I wrote this some time in the late 80s. Kinda makes you think–why is this still so relevant? This is AS IS. I did not edit it at all.

Hungry

There’s so much strife, and so much grief,
when will our race find true relief?

Starving children are left for dead,
while we sleep warmly in our beds.

You see the fear that’s in their eyes,
and still ignore their desperate cries.

If every man would take the time,
to give the hungry one thin dime.

I know the world could find a way,
to feed a child for one more day.

 

 

 

What was Satan Thinking?

 

First, let’s be clear on what I mean when I say POD books. This term has become so misused and misunderstood that it has actually resulted in lost sales for many. This doesn’t need to be the case.

POD stands for PRINT ON DEMAND. You’ll notice the word PRINT. Not publish or promote, PRINT!

POD is the process used by PRINTERS to eliminate the need for excessive runs of print copies. The printer simply waits until there is an order and then prints the specific number of copies ordered, removing the immediate potential for wasted paper.

I’m not sure why POD books have received such a negative reputation, but most booksellers and librarians, and now due to the overwhelming number of authors arguing about it in public forums, readers equate POD with lower quality books. This simply isn’t the case.

For over a decade, a multitude of publishers, both big and small, have been using the POD method for fulfilling orders.

The quality of the written word is determined well before the actual book ever goes to print, thereby eliminating the misconception that POD books are “bad.” It needs to be understood by all that POD, the method of printing does not account for the number of poorly written and edited books being sold in the market.

The biggest problem with the misunderstanding of POD is the ability for companies and authors to market and promote the books. However, with the proper education within the retail (and library) industries, bookseller and acquisition librarians could not only increase their potential sales and titles available, but could increase the variety of stories available to their readers.

Readers crave originality. They are tired of reading the same recycled stories by the same authors. Yet, they are deprived of any freshness in their choices, because the larger and more traditional publishers are reluctant to take any financial risk on the newer and more exciting stories written by unknown or new authors.

I would encourage everyone in the book industry to educate themselves and to recognize the value of POD books and to acknowledge the potential for increased sales. Give new authors a chance to prove that they have writing skill and the ability to tell a good story, no matter how many copies of their book is printed at one time.

Furthermore, consider the environmental impact of POD books. A traditional publisher may print 5000 copies of a paperback novel by a new author, and only sell 1500 of them. This means that the remaining 3500 unsold copies will be put into waste. Had the publisher used the POD process to print those books, they would have simply printed the 1500 copies as the orders came in and eliminated the waste. If you did this for 10,000 books in one year, imagine how much paper would be saved and thus less trees.

Bottom line, POD is not the work of Satan. It is simply a process used to print books in smaller quantities. Sorry, Dude, you don’t get credit for this one.

My final point refers to the availability and returnability of books produced using the POD process. The status of returns is not determined across the industry, it is determined by the specific publisher or author. This means that it is an unfair assumption for a bookstore not to carry a POD book, without first determining its returnability status.

We all have choices, but when we make a choice, that doesn’t give us the right to complain when that choice cause a problem.

I hope that after reading this post, more people who speak ill of the POD process will reconsider their “choices” and give authors a fair chance to sell books and entertain readers.

Will you?

Originally published at ©Life as a Publisher by Karen L. Syed
This can be reproduced in it’s entirety with no additions or corrections.