Saturday, November 2, 2019

MONEY MACHINES


I can’t be the only one who has noticed the plethora of famous and not-so-famous authors with writing courses. Every one of these promises to teach you the secret of how to become a great author. Frankly, I’m disgusted by it all. I have no doubt that some of these guys honestly believe they can help you to become a much better author, but if they had some magic formula, they were willing to sell you to make you the next bestselling author, don’t you think it would be headline news?

The sad fact is, there is no one-size-fits-all class to make you a dream author. While many of these courses can teach you specific techniques you can certainly benefit from, for most us, spending $500 or more on a class, even if it’s easy-to-pay-installments, is just too much. And, in reality, most of these classes only have a single purpose, a new revenue stream for the person putting it on.

While the hype poured out may sound personal and caring, they don’t care about you at all. How could they possibly care about you when they don’t know you? It’s just good marketing procedure to make the pitch as personal as possible. This is what is known as social engineering.

These writing courses are no different than the ‘we’ll teach you how to flip houses on other people’s money’ seminars that hope to sell you a franchise. But, if you look at the numbers, most of those franchises disappear within the first year because they are simply not self-sustaining.

I don’t know about you, but I’m an indie author who self-publishes. I don’t have a random $500 just lying around to toss into another dubious class. I believe the money would be far better served in some decent advertising for my books. And please, make no mistake, I’m talking about authors that I enjoy and usually respect, but only as authors.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

KM

Saturday, October 26, 2019

FAILURE IS ALWAYS AN OPTION


Remember the expression, "Failure is not an option?" When it concerns lives, I can understand such an attitude. In any other situation, I think we need to reevaluate what failure means.

Many of you read and like the Harry Potter books, but are you aware J.K. Rowling's original pitch was rejected twelve times? A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle was sent back twenty-six times, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank fifteen times, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, a whopping thirty-eight times. Let's add to the list bicycles, alternating current, the telephone, and personal computers, people thought these were fads. Edison took thousands of tries before he produced a lasting filament for the light bulb.

Failure teaches us. The Bible tells us in Psalm 119:71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes. When people don't fail, they often don't learn. No student ever likes a failing grade, how they react to it is what matters. Will they let it instruct them and grow, or will they admit defeat and stay in the same place?

If you are a parent, how do you react if your child is failing? Do you blame the teacher, or do you take the time to understand your child's issues and help them? Are you angry, or do you show loving concern and ask questions? Some people are terrible at math, others at art, but it doesn't mean they can't learn enough of the subject to pass a class. If you, as the parent, approach failure as something evil, you are creating an atmosphere of anger and fear which hides the underlying problem.

Other authors and I understand failure. We write, pour ourselves into our books, and when they don't sell, we face the question, "what is wrong with us?" The answer many times is, we aren't reaching the audience we intended. This may be the real failure, not what we have written. If I had the magic formula for reaching my audience without spending more than I can ever make, I would be using it. I am not going to stop writing or trying. Most of my author friends and I take failure and use it as a tool to make our work better. The few who don't vanish into obscurity.

Don't let failure in one area of your life slow you down. Learn from it and change what you are doing.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!


KM

Saturday, October 19, 2019

THE WRITING TRAIN


As an author, I am always looking for better writing techniques and ways to develop plots, characters, and draw the emotional response so vital to any novel. If you have ever wanted to be a writer, I’m sure that you have looked online and in bookstores for guides written by the ‘experts.’ These are people who have either written bestselling novels, are highly educated in the literary field, or are merely self-professed geniuses at what they do.

My first attempts at writing were clumsy. AURA, my first full-length novel, is riddled with the kinds of errors most of these experts would cringe at. Yet, for the most part, it receives good reviews whenever I receive one. While it’s true that some people may not have realized it was Christian fiction, even though it’s clearly stated on the book page, and others feel it’s a little too short, most like it. I love every review my novels receive, good or bad because I learn more from them than any of the so-called experts. It’s you, the readers, that tell me what you like or don’t like about the books and that helps me to write the next one better.

I am not saying that you can’t learn something from the guides and lessons on the market, but don’t expect them to make you into a bestselling author. The key is to write something compelling, and that comes from your heart. You are going to make mistakes and have a boatload of punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors, but there are cheap computer programs out there that will help you with your first edit. If you are like me, you can’t afford to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars on an editor and marketing. I am so fortunate that my daughter is not only an English teacher but highly interested in becoming an editor. She edits my books for me, and she is very good at it.

Proper editing and marketing are essential in today’s competitive market. Most of the guides will tell you to ‘save up’ so that you can afford to do both. If I did that, my books would likely have to have been published posthumously. Do you have a relative or friend that is willing to read your book and tell you the truth about it? Are you ready to let them ‘markup’ a copy as they read? It may not be a perfect edit like I feel I get, but it will help. As for advertising, do anything you can afford. Fiverr always has something in every price bracket. Most of the advertising is indeed entirely ineffective, but how else are you going to get the word out?

I laugh when ‘the experts’ talk about a mailing list. That’s great, I have a beautiful webpage/landing page with signup as they all suggest, but anyone rarely does. How do you build that mailing list? No one gives you a step-by-step guide to generating a mailing list in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time. Social Media is almost a joke today; you can beg for people on Facebook and Twitter to sign up or read your book. You can offer to send copies for free and, for the most part, they will disappear into the ether. There is simply no consistently effective advertising method that is guaranteed to bring in more than you spend. The closest thing I’ve come to decent advertising is Amazon’s Ads, and I lost money at a rate of about three to one there (it is pay per click.)

Here is my suggestion; if you have a story in you that you believe someone wants or needs to read, even if it is only one person, write it. Edit it the best you can. Self-publish it for free (almost all online bookstores allow this.) What have you lost? Time and effort? How is that different than taking a hike on a beautiful day, knitting a sweater you know no one will wear, or just reading a book? All are time and effort that you wanted to invest for no better reason than wanting to. So, write, live your story in your mind as you put it onto the page. Go back two, three, or four times editing it as best you can. Use software to help if you can’t afford anything better. Try to make or have made the best cover you can, one that catches the eye and tells a little of the story. If you have little or no money to advertise, put it on your Twitter and Facebook pages, and then don’t worry about who or how many buy.

If your goal is to live off of your writing, that’s an entirely different blog post.

Have an amazing weekend.

KM

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

ALTERNATES


I am going to level with you, I haven’t been to church in weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I love my church, and my Pastor is greatest, he’s a friend (and a fan.) I had a serious surgery a few weeks back and haven’t been out of the house much since. Our church is a little crowded, and I’m concerned about getting ‘bumped’ by one or more of the people at church, usually the kids. They aren’t bad children, they’re just kids, and have a lot of energy. I will be back in church soon enough, and I am in the Word every day. Which brings me to an interesting topic.

I am not only a speculative fiction writer; I enjoy reading it as well. One of my favorited topics is alternate history. I’ve never tried my hand at writing in this genre, and I doubt that I’d be very good at it. Still, there are some storylines that I wonder about. And the best always starts with ‘what if…’

In Genesis 3:9 – 11, we read this:

…9 So the LORD God called out to the man, “Where are you?” 10 “I heard Your voice in the garden,” he replied, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 “Who told you that you were naked?” asked the LORD God. “Have you eaten of the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?”…

It goes on from there to become a blame-game, Adam says Eve gave him the fruit, and Eve says the Serpent tricked her into it. We never hear what the Serpent has to say about it, which is probably a good thing. So, here’s my question, what if instead of hiding, Adam had run to God and confessed immediately?

Yes, Adam disobeyed God’s direct order, but if he came out and was honest and genuinely repentant, what would have been God’s reaction? What if Adam had said, “Lord, tell me what I can do to prove to you that it won’t happen again.” Think about it for a moment, and keep in mind that God loved Adam dearly.

If you have children, what is your reaction if your child does something wrong but immediately tells you about and shows that they really are sorry about it?

What if God smiled at Adam, put his hand on him, and forgave him? I’m pretty sure that the Serpent would still have suffered some severe consequences; after all, he was the initiator of the chain of events. But would we have remained in the garden? Would our entire planet be the garden? How close would our relationship with God be?

We know that childbirth for women would be as easy as falling asleep and that men wouldn’t have to work ‘by the sweat of their brow’ to eat. We also know that we would be able to see and have conversations with God all the time. Basically, the entirety of history would be changed.

What we do know is, almost from the second we left the garden, maybe even before, God was working on His plan to bring us back to Him.

I pray you are having a fantastic weekend!

KM

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

PREDICTION


This is a kind of follow-up to my post on Prophecy. This one really stems from a conversation I have been having with one of the people in China that works for me and a problem that I can foresee rushing toward us like a freight train. As I said in the previous post, on a general basis, I know how specific groups of people will react to certain situations, and it isn’t hard for me to see where and how events will unfold. This isn’t magic; it’s psychology and mathematics.

People tend toward ‘herd thinking’ without knowing they are doing so. For the most part, we find safety in numbers. The example I recently read was; ‘a couple is out and goes to pick a restaurant (A and B) they see two choices, both are empty, so they choose restaurant A. Another couple comes along and sees the two restaurants, A has people in it, and B is empty. That couple chooses A as well because they assume that it is a better restaurant.’ This isn’t precisely herd behavior. A better example of humans in herd behavior is a large group protesting or in a crisis situation.

In a protest or riot, when the people are confronted with an opposing force that is stronger than them, they tend to break and rush to escape. This usually starts with one or a small group and then spreads to the rest of the people. Soon, the entire ‘herd’ is trying to get away from the opposing force. But there are more subtle forms of herd behavior that happen in the workplace.

If a program or system is being implemented in the workplace, and the ‘boss’ makes a decision that something needs to supersede that particular project an impression, true or false, is implanted throughout the organization that the program or system isn’t highly valued. I have observed this phenomenon far more times than I can count. I am not criticizing the superior for their decision, that’s a part of their job, I am merely stating a fact.

In production environments, operations and sales personnel tend to think, as a group, the most essential aspect of their jobs is to get parts out the door. While they may believe this is what generates revenue, they are only partially correct. If those parts are not correctly made, customer dissatisfaction goes up, parts are returned, and the cost usually is much higher than the original revenue. I won’t go into the various ‘work-arounds’ that I have encountered in China to this problem; that’s a subject for a book all on its own.

Many businesses today must meet certain minimum regulatory and customer requirements. Quality Management Systems, Environmental Management Systems, Health, and Safety Management Systems, Social Responsibility Management Systems, etc. are some of the types of requirements being imposed. Unfortunately, many of the top personnel in organizations view these as ‘add-ons’ to what they do, and getting parts out the door still remains foremost in their minds. That being said, the implementation of these systems is usually relegated to an individual with the (completely false) thought being they can get it all done on their own. Therein lay the seeds of many company’s downfalls.

Industrial customers today are far savvier than they have ever been. These customers not only look for and expect their suppliers to meet the regulatory requirements and have the certification to prove it, but they will also audit that supplier themselves. I can tell you from a wealth of experience that these customer audits are much more stringent than any regulatory agency.

My point is, there are consequences to decisions that affect ‘the herd,’ and most of these can be predicted. Let’s look at Hong Kong today as another example.

Hong Kong (HK) is having protests or riots depending on which side of the political spectrum you fall. If you look at what is happening, the government of HK is actually causing the problem to increase through a lack of understanding of basic herd mentality. The original protests began over the fear of a bill being passed that would allow Mainland China to, essentially, pull anyone off the street and extradite them for trial. Fear is an important word here.

Fear leads to anger. In fact, almost all anger is based, in some way, on fear. While the bill was eventually shelved, it wasn’t until the herd had already grown to a size where other fears/anger bubbled up. Now, it appears the issue has become, how much autonomy will HK really have? The HK government, instead of finding a way to ease or remove the fear, has amplified it by issuing new threats to the protesters/rioters. The HK and Chinese governments are in the process of creating the kind of self-defeating herd reaction they really do not want but may not understand how to stop. ‘Crushing’ the protesters usually leads to a more widespread problem but is almost always the instinctive reaction that governments, and in some cases businesses, have.

So, let’s look at a couple of the possible outcomes for HK:
1.  The HK government finds a way to help ease the fear of the loss of autonomy, and the protesters/rioters no longer have a focal point.
2.  The Chinese government becomes involved. This will likely cause an attempted mass exodus from HK.
3.  Both governments ignore the protests, so long as they are peaceful, until such a time as they dwindle to nothing.

You might be able to think of more outcomes, but they are probably a variation of one or more of these three.

The way that groups of people will act and react can be hard to predict. Care needs to be taken when making an evaluation. One factor, in business, that usually helps to drive proper action of ‘the herd’ is a strong, knowledgeable leader that is focused on long-term success.

Stay strong as we get over ‘the hump’ of the week!

K M

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

PROPHECY


In book five of The Senses Novels, 7EVENTH SENSE, prophecy plays an important role. That role is even more significant in the, soon to be released, final volume of the series. After many years of discussing prophecy with both Believers and non-believers, I am convinced that most people do not understand what prophecy is nor its purpose.

One source states that there are 1,817 prophecies in the Bible, both Old, and New Testaments. Prophecy, simply put, is a brief glimpse into the plan of God given to man for the purpose of instruction. One of the qualifications of a prophet is that their prophecies are always one-hundred percent correct, they always come true. This would seem to leave Jonah out of the picture as he prophesied to Nineveh that they were about to encounter the wrath of God. By their heartfelt repentance and submission to God’s will, they were able to change the outcome. It goes like this in Jonah 3:

Jonah 3: Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

If you read further on, Jonah is pretty unhappy about this and wishes he were dead. God has a friendly little chat with Jonah and straightens him out. The problem remains, was Jonah a prophet since what he prophesied did not happen? The answer is simply yes. God changed the outcome because of human free will. The Ninevites made the decision to repent and change their ways. This is also one of the purposes of prophecy, to give us a chance to alter our path toward self-destruction.

We read in the Old Testament, over and over, how the prophets tell Israel how something terrible is going to happen to them because they have abandoned God. The prophets are specific as to what that destruction will be, and then, since the people don’t change their ways, it happens precisely as they predicted.

Some people are given the gift of prophecy even today. There are also some who claim to have that gift who are false prophets looking to gain some kind of advantage (money, power, etc.) Many of the things that I have written in the earlier books of the Senses Novels series have come to pass, but that does not make me a prophet, it makes me someone who can view current events and extrapolate the potential outcomes.

On a general basis, I know how specific groups of people will react to certain situations, and it isn’t hard for me to see, where, and how events will unfold. There are always erratic people who can throw these predictions off, I try to factor them in. Radical Left, Radical Right, Centrists, Libertarians, Survivalists, Globalists, Nationalists, Socialists, Communists, Capitalists, and all the various religions and factions within those religions are things I try to take into account when I look ahead. I have stated this in many of my previous posts, one thing that all of these groups have in common is that, to some measure, they seek to control the populace, that’s us, all of us. The cry, “My view is the only right view!” may not be stated, but it is definitely implied, and all groups use it to help divide us more than we already are. Understanding this, using this as a baseline, it isn’t hard to look at specific events and see a month, a year, or even ten years ahead and where it will lead. That is not prophecy.

The prophecies in the book of Revelation may or may not have already started. I am not removed enough from the situation to tell you for sure. Do I believe that they are or will happen? Yes, I absolutely do, because there is nothing in there that is out of the realm of what we already know is possible. The Senses Novels are, in effect, my attempt at a modern view of how Revelation will play out. This is evident in book five, and will become much more so in book six, “The Final Darkness.”

I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

KM

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

TRIBUTE TO THE UNKNOWN READER


For those of you that have Kindle Unlimited, books two through five are basically free to read. I have kept book one, AURA, out of KU so that I can put it on multiple platforms; not just Amazon. One problem that all authors have when we put our books out as E-Books is that the reader is entirely anonymous to us unless they choose to make contact.

There are several ways that a reader may contact an ‘indie author’ such as myself. One is through the author website, by signing up to the mailing list. I know a lot of people don’t like to sign onto mailing lists for fear of being spammed to death. I can make you this solemn promise, those who sign up to my list will a) never have it shared and b) will only receive emails when there is a new release or special promotion of some kind. You will also be the first to know when a new book is being released and may be able to snag it at an exceptional price, or for free. My website is https://kmaul.com.

Some authors also put their email address out for the public to contact them. Mine is km_aul@hotmail.com. Feel free to contact me if you have a comment or question about my books, I love hearing from readers.

Like myself, many authors have a Facebook page. I have two for you to choose from, one devoted to the Senses Novels and one that is for all of my books. This my general page: https://www.facebook.com/KM-Auls-Books-770937323253185/
This is my Senses Novels specific page: https://www.facebook.com/SensesNovels

One thing that virtually every author has in common is that we love to get reviews from our readers. They don’t have to be long, just a rating and a sentence about the book, something you liked or disliked about them. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but I assure you, it is vital to the author. I have had some great four-star and five-star reviews and a couple that were much lower than that. I appreciate your reviews no matter how many stars you give as long as you provide a brief reason why you gave that rating. What you have to say is important to me.

Finally, I want to thank all of my readers. Authors will tell you we write for various reasons, but at the end of the day, we all write for you, the reader. I anticipate the final novel in the series will be back from my editor soon so that I can get it into your hands.

Thank you all again and have a fantastic weekend wherever you are!

KM