5 Things Every Blogger Should Know About Spam

5 Things Every Blogger Should Know About Spam

1. Web spam is different from email spam.
Email spammers want you to buy their product. You are the target of the ad contained in each email spam you receive. Comment/web spammers want your readers to buy their product. You (the blogger, author, moderator) are not the target.

2. Web spammers are social engineers.
Email spammers write messages to get your attention. Comment spammers write messages to escape your attention. They want you to believe they are real bloggers, real people, writing real comments, so you’ll approve the comment and publish it on your site. They use flattery, appeal to your good nature, and simply lie in order to convince you to give them the benefit of the doubt.

3. Web spammers are basically advertising on your blog….
..and they’re keeping all of the profits. They’re not even asking your permission first. Right now someone is offering to sell links from your blog to anyone willing to pay a few dollars (or a few cents). If your blog is well known, it may even be listed by name, with backlinks for sale at a set price.

4. It’s all about the backlinks.
Web spammers are selling links from your blog to their clients. They do this to game the search engines and trick your readers into visiting dubious web sites. Their clients are sometimes seemingly harmless, but are often peddling fake pills, porn, scams and malware. Sometimes they’ll use “buffer sites” – that is, innocent looking web pages intended to disguise the fact that they’re really advertising something more sinister.

5. Spammers employ humans.
Not all spam is delivered by spambots. Spammers are increasingly using humans to write and post comments by hand. Typically they are exploiting low-paid workers in internet cafes, schools and factories. Sometimes they are viral marketers paid to promote a new product. Either way they are trying to exploit your blog for their profit – and hoping to do it without you noticing.

The Rules of Writing Novels, Written by Timothy Fish, Posted by R. Clint Peters

The Rules of Writing Novels

Written By: Timothy Fish  Published: 1/31/2008

Visit enough author blogs and forums frequented by authors and you are likely to learn about some of the rules of writing. The rules I am referring to are not the rules that you will learn in an English class. These rules are usually based on what acquisition editors have rejected. The rules listed below are some of the rules that other authors have mentioned. My intent is to make this a living document, so as I learn of new rules I will be adding them to the list. Some of these rules may contradict each other. That’s okay. These rules are based on the perception of rejected authors rather than what publishers have clearly defined. It is very likely that there are published novels that violate many of these rules.

Show, Don’t Tell – Let the reader see through action and dialog rather than telling the reader what happened through exposition.

Avoid Passive – Always tell who is doing the action.

Don’t Head Hop – Pick a Point of View character and stick with him. Don’t tell what Bob is thinking in one paragraph and then tell what Joe is thinking in the next.

Use Adverbs Sparingly – This rule comes from a post on Brandilyn Collins’ blog.

Avoid “to be” Verbs in Narrative – This rule comes from a post on Brandilyn Collins’ blog. Here the problem is that “to be” verbs tend to be weak. Perhaps, I should say that “to be” verbs do not invoke the sense of movement that other verbs do.

Only Use Dialog Attribution Tags When Required – Avoid things like “My name is Joe,” Joe said. He folded his arms across his chest.”Say instead, “My name is Joe.” He folded his arms across his chest.

Don’t Italicize Thoughts – This may be okay for a voice in the character’s head, but there is no need to italicize the thoughts of the point of view character.

Don’t Use Present Tense – Instead of She walks into the room and sits down say She walked into the room and sat down. Present tense is often hard to read.

No Author Intrusion – Author intrusion is when it is clear that the author is speaking directly to the reader rather than the reader seeing the story only as the point of view character sees it.

No Omniscient Viewpoint – With the omniscient viewpoint, the person telling the story is capable of telling the reader everything. He knows everything about the history. He knows what all the characters are thinking. He knows how the story is going to turn out. For an example of the omniscient viewpoint: If Bob had known that Jane was standing in line on the other side of town, he wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to get home.

Always Use First Person or Third Person Limited Point of View – This rule primarily applies to Christian novels. The idea is that the author is supposed to bring the reader as close to the story as possible. (Even though Second Person is the closest a reader can get to the story.)

Never Use Second Person – When you write, you never want to use second person. If you do, you will make it difficult for your readers to follow the story.

Never Have More Than One Main Character – This is apparently a rule in Christian fiction. Never tell the story from the point of view of more than one character. I understand that more than one manuscript has been rejected for breaking this rule. It should be noted, however, that every highly successful author has ignored this rule on multiple occasions.

No More Than Three Dead Bodies – This is another rule for Christian novels. Apparently, having too many people die is a valid reason for editors to reject a manuscript that is targeted at a Christian audience.

Don’t Have a Character Answer the Phone – The idea here is that people don’t need all of the details of the phone ringing, someone answering it, the generic comments at the beginning of the conversation, etc.

Don’t Repeat Unusual Words or Phrases – While repetition may not be so noticeable to an author because of the length of time it takes to write the story, readers will pickup on it.

Avoid –ing Sentences – Sentences like, Straightening his glasses, he picked up the book are considered a bad idea.

Don’t Switch Point of View – Authors should not switch from first person to third person or third person to first person, etc.

Write for All Denominations – When writing Christian fiction, avoid writing anything that may be considered offensive to any particular denomination.

Avoid Clichés – Avoid such things as cold as ice or black as night.

Use All Senses – Don’t just tell the reader what the characters heard. Tell the reader what the character felt, smelled, tasted, saw and heard.

Don’t Use Stereotypes – Relying on stereotypes can result in a predictable story. Instead of a librarian who likes to read, have one who would prefer to water ski, for example

Use Stereotypes – Stereotypes, when used well, can provide a reader with a wealth of information about a character without requiring the author to slow down and describe a character in detail.

Listen to Suggestions – The author that agents and editors dislike the most is the author who believes his writing is perfect and cannot be improved by the suggestions of others.

Don’t Portray Sin in Good Light – For Christian fiction, activities that are considered sin by large portions of the audience should not be portrayed in a in a good light. In some cases it should not be mentioned.

No Offensive Words in Christian Fiction – Don’t use words that a preachers wouldn’t say from the pulpit.

All Rules of Writing Are Only Suggestions – As you look at the rules above, you will find that some of them are good, some are not so good and some contradict each other. None of them are absolute. Applying many of these rules may help your writing, but there are situations where some of these rules should be thrown out. There are also situations where some additional rules might apply. The author must make that determination. The author’s goal is to write a good story that gets the message across to the reader.

If you know of other rules that publishers apply to writing, please feel free to comment.  Send an email to r.clint.peters@hotmail.com with suggestions.  Additional comments will be posted.

To Web or Not to Web, That is the Question

To Web or Not to Web, That is the Question 

For several months, I have be working with 2 web sites and two blogs sites.  Four locations on the Internet requires a great deal of work, but is all that work actually worth the effort?  Unfortunately, I don’t think it is.

Much of my time is dedicated to bringing both the blog site and the web site to the same level.  Naturally, one will usually be better than the other.  In my care, the blog was always the better of the two.

A few days ago, the differences became more obvious.

As the blog master of The Book Reviewers Club, I have been Tweeting that the Club would like to interview authors.  The location I sent the authors to was the club blog (http://thebookreviewersclub.wordpress.com).  I have posted an Author’s Questionnaire on the blog, and received a submission almost immediately after the Tweet.

What does that indicate?

Most importantly — someone has actually read my Tweet.  Not only one, but two have read the Tweet.  This is extremely important.

My personal Twitter account has 460 followers, and The Book Reviewers Club account is followed by 531.  That is a total of almost 1000 people following me.  And I had two Twitter followers actually respond to my Tweet.

The best guess from several places I have searched says that the average Tweet will receive a response about 0.1% of the time. In 1000 tweets, there will be 1 response.  I have actually doubled that number.  I am thrilled.

I have checked the stats for The Book Reviewers Club blog and website, and for the R. Clint Peters, Author, blog and website, and find that the activity for the blogs far exceed the web sites, even with the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) offered by Google (where I have my web sites hosted).

So, back to the question:  To Web or Not to Web?  At this point, I don’t think having a website has any value for me.  I intend to reduce the amount of time I spend on my websites, and will eventually simply forward any visitors to my blogs.

Chapter 1 of Pegasus Rising, a Nixon French novel, has been posted

Chapter 1

Nixon French pressed the power button of his computer.  As he waited for it to warm up, he took a long sip from his strawberry milkshake and chuckled.  Having an office next to the company cafeteria definitely had benefits.

When the computer had fully warmed up, he selected his email inbox, and clicked to open one special email.  The email, received while Nixon was the Police Chief of Sanctuary City, Idaho, contained a fifteen-picture slideshow.  Nixon pressed start.

The first picture, from a long distance away, showed an unknown person in handcuffs hanging from a rope thrown over a tree limb.  Pictures 2 through 7 zoomed in on the person until he was recognizable as Dennis West.  Dennis West was the brother of Sandy West-French, Nixon’s former wife.  Pictures 8 through 14 showed Dennis being lowered into a bubbling, steaming mud pot.  The screams could almost be heard through the picture.  Picture 15 showed a frayed rope dangling perhaps a foot above the mud pot.

Nixon’s ritual every morning for the past three years had been a strawberry milkshake and a slide show.  He liked strawberry milkshakes but hated the slide show.  He planned to repeat the slideshow until his brother-in-law was confirmed dead, a difficult proposition if Dennis had been lowered into a mud pot in YellowstoneNational Park.  The only item remaining would be the stainless steel handcuffs.

As soon as he received the pictures, Nixon passed them on to Doug Farnsworth, the top Internet engineer for Pendergast Holdings.  Doug had inspected the pictures and the email for any identifying information.  Everything was clean except for one picture with an embedded date tag.  The date tag corresponded to when Dennis had disappeared.

The picture of the mud pots was sent to the Park Service at Yellowstone.  After searching the park for several months, they thought they had found one similar mud pot.  However, there was no indication that Dennis had been lowered into that particular mud pot, and no tree limbs were discovered within two hundred yards of any mud pot.  Trees simply did not grow next to mud pots.

Of course, they would not find anything in any of the mud pots.  Almost all mud pots in Yellowstone are highly acidic.  A test was performed by dropping a turkey leg into a mud pot.  The turkey leg was gone in ten minutes.  Including the bone.  Aluminum soda cans are the only things not consumed by the mud pots.

Nixon stared at his laptop for several minutes and then rotated his office chair to stare out his office windows.  He had a corner office that looked over the parking lot and a large field that seemed to extend forever. A mile from his office was a large grove of trees.  Nixon smiled.  Next to the grove of trees was a small lake.   Nixon had been spending every snow-free weekend at the lake since Pegasus-Northwoods Energy had hired him.

Pegasus-Northwoods Energy had recruited Nixon French three months after Sandy had taken her life.  Although she did not hold Nixon responsible for the loss of her brother, she could not deal with his death.  She began to resent that Nixon was a Police Chief, but had not brought her brother’s killers to justice.  As she lost touch with reality, she accused Nixon of not wanting to find the killers.  She even suggested that he knew who they were.  Sandy’s final act was to connect a flexible hose to her exhaust pipe, and feed it in through a rear window of her automobile.  Nixon still had nightmares about the call he had gotten from one of his officers.

Nixon had been hired to run the security department of PNE.  It was an organization with a long history of incompetence.  Only the remoteness of the PNE facilities had prevented serious security breaches.  No one was willing to cross hundreds of miles of snow to blow up an oil refinery.  Nixon had reorganized the security teams in five of the seven facilities in northern Alberta.  It was now spring.  The final two facilities on his list would be reorganized by the end of summer.  Nixon was happy about the higher temperatures, but did not like the flies.

Nixon completed his morning ritual and then began calling his security teams.  For several weeks, he had been conducting security breach exercises.  He wanted to make sure the security teams knew a breach was coming and would be able to react to the crisis.  Nixon was convinced that terrorists would try to shut down his facilities.  He just didn’t know when.

Pegasus-Northwoods Energy had seven high tech, and very expensive, oil sands recovery facilities, and a large technical facility.  Four of the recovery facilities were in full production.  Nixon’s biggest nightmare was a combined assault on all four of the producing facilities.  The resulting destruction could cripple the production output, and the required cleanup could take several years.

Nixon had a test in place for the possibility of a large-scale assault.  He had asked a good friend, Oliver Pendergast II, to help.  Generally referred to as O2, he was a former SEAL and the assistant district commander of the Pendergast District of the Idaho State Police.

O2 had been the precinct commander of the Airport North Precinct of the Idaho State Police when Nixon lived in Sanctuary City.  O2 had conducted several combined training exercises with the Sanctuary City PD in order to gauge the response of the local police organizations during terrorist activities.   Besides becoming friends, O2 and Nixon had gained a good idea of how their people would respond.

Nixon heard buzzing coming from a box on his desk.  He flipped the LCD monitor up, saw it was his secretary, and pressed the answer button.

“What can I do for you, Polly?”

Polly widened the camera field, which brought O2 into the display.  O2 waved.

“You have a visitor, Mr. French.”

Nixon laughed, and told Polly to send him in.

When the facility was built, PNE had embraced technology.  All facilities were Wi-Fi hotspots, and every office was connected by audio and video.  And there were more Ethernet receptacles than Nixon could count in a year. Nixon smiled.  Had Doug Farnsworth been here when this place was constructed?

O2 walked through the office door and placed several strips of red caution tape on Nixon’s desk.

Nixon looked up, and said, “I didn’t know you were visiting.”

O2 laughed.  ‘I needed a new shot at that lake.”

He pointed at the strips.  “I brought four of my people with me, and we got seven flags.”

The facility test was a modern version of the old game of Capture the Flag.  Each flag was a two-foot long red plastic caution strip.  Nixon would place two or three flags in different areas of a facility, and then call O2.  O2 would not tell Nixon when he was coming to capture the flags.  This set of flags had been placed at the two sites that were the furthest apart, over two hundred miles.  Nixon had hoped that the distance would create problems.  It apparently had not.

O2 sat down.  “You made two of the flags a little harder than usual, but it only slowed my ream down a little.  Nix, I think you still have a problem.”

This was the third test performed by O2 on the PNE facilities.  So far, none of O2’s people had been discovered.  The security teams for each facility had been doubled after the first test, and had been increased by 50% after the second perimeter breach.

Nixon thought for a moment, and then looked over at O2.  “You have how many here with you right now?”

O2 held up five fingers.

Nixon chuckled.  “How did they get in this time?”

O2 sat back in his chair.  “We were a little more prepared this time with the added security.  But, your company store is really insecure.  We were able to walk right in and buy the security team coveralls without any questions asked.  A strip of white tape with a blue marker created a nametag that was good beyond twenty feet.  I brought Ramona with me this time.  She fills a coverall very nicely.  She was a very good distraction at the main gate.”

Nixon chuckled.  Yes, Ramona did properly fill a coverall.  He stared out the window overlooking the lake.

“If you have everyone parked in the cafeteria, let’s get them together, and go find a fish.”

Nixon stood, walked around his desk, and walked to the door.

Some Musings on a Saturday Morning

Some Musings on a Saturday Morning

I began writing almost two years ago.  A publisher, who shall never to be named, published my first novel, The Pendergast Prerogatives, in January 2011.  They will never be named because I don’t want to give them free publicity.

The Pendergast Solution was published in March 2011 by the same unnamed published, followed by The Pendergast Alternatives in June 2011.  And yes, the same publisher.  Now, all I needed to do was sit back and collect my royalties.

At the end of six months, without a single sale of any of my novels, I decided to publish The Pendergast Suppositions on Amazon’s CreateSpace.

I was on a roll, but I wasn’t rolling very fast or very far.  I had a gazillion ideas churning around in my head, and started writing The Alberta Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel, followed by A Question for Kelly, a Klete Wilkins novel.  And then I saw a blog asking for books to be submitted for syndication.

If you have read my story, you may know I submitted The Alberta Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel, to be syndicated and discovered I just didn’t know how to write. The critique I received was devastating.

I immediately began searching for solutions to the problems I had been informed The Alberta Connection contained.  Several months later, after an exhausting editing process, I submitted The Alberta Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel to Amazon’s CreateSpace for publication.  I have received one positive review from a member of The Book Reviewers Club, and I have three promises by club members to review The Alberta Connection.

The editing process for The Alberta Connection taught me one thing — everything I have written needs to be re-written.  All four of the Pendergast series of novels must be revised, as well as five other books I have started.

After a brief edit of A Question for Kelly, I submitted it to be critiqued.  Because it had been started prior to The Alberta Connection being critiqued, A Question for Kelly was confirmed to also be a disaster.

So, what have I learned?  I have learned I know a little about writing, but it is easy to forget what has been learned.  Several important points were made in the critique about A Question for Kelly:  1) I needed to stop telling what the characters were doing, and show more; 2) The plot was bland; 3) If it does not help the story flow, leave it out.

I have, over the last few days since the critique, continued to edit A Question for Kelly.  It is hard to rip large chunks of words out of a novel.  It is even harder to go back and add things to spice up the plot, especially when the character is bland.  Nevertheless, I have jumped into the writer’s pool with faith I can see the piranha before they remove any of my toes.

If you would like to review The Alberta Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel, please send me an email at r.clint.peters@hotmail.com

Avoiding Some of the Pitfalls of the First Novel, a booklet by R. Clint Peters is available on Amazon and the Create Space eStore.

Avoiding Some of the Pitfalls of the First Novel, a booklet by R. Clint Peters is available on Amazon and the Create Space eStore.

Are you thinking of writing a novel?  Do you have an idea that has been rolling around the recesses of your mind?  Have you heard all of the horror stories suffered by other authors?

After negotiating my own minefields of writing my novel, The Alberta Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel, and placing the novel on Amazon, I determined that perhaps recounting my travails could help someone.

Avoiding Some of the Pitfalls of the First Novel is not a five hundred-page reference manual for writing.  It is a twenty-four page thumbnail glimpse of what I went through, and some suggestions on how to jump over, around and even under some of your own obstacles.

If you would like to review Avoiding Some of the Pitfalls of the First Novel, please contact the author at r.clint.peters@hotmail.com

The booklet is available at https://www.createspace.com/4008112 or at Amazon Author Central at https://www.amazon.com/author/rclintpeters