Amazon goes to court over fake reviews and other scintillating reads this week


Amazon files first-ever suit over fake product reviews, alleging sites sold fraudulent praise
Hold onto your hats, think Amazon doesn’t like reviews written by your mom or best friend? They really hate it when somebody builds a business around fake reviews.

20 OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIES IN THE WORLD – Gary McLaren at WorldWide Freelance Writer offers us awe-inspiring buildings that honor books – so beautiful they almost look like houses of worship – and maybe they are.

Top Social Media Turnoffs. Forbes gives us a pictorial of the top social media turnoffs.

Nicolas Sparks:Writing and Proscratination go Hand-in-Hand.
Interesting insights about writing from famous romance writer, Nicolas Sparks.

10 Resources To Upgrade Your Grammar And Writing Skills from is a handy list of resources to up your grammar and writing game.

Okay my friends, start reading. And feel free to talk about these stories with each other in the comments.

Have a great week!

Writer Chick

The Safety of the Bookternet for Women and other Compelling Reads This Week


Been busy this week and didn’t have nearly enough time to read but the following were pretty damn compelling is you ask me.

Why I Quit GoodReads (or The Bookternet is Not Safe for Women). Is a compelling post by Brenna Clarke Grey dealing with the harassment and fallout of the ‘bookternet.’ Thought provoking read.

Online book shopping overtakes in-store for first time. Over at The BookSeller, they’ve got the 411 on online book sales versus offline book sales. Enlightening.

Controlling the Creatives. Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes a nice piece about ignoring in-fighting (what I call penis tossing), online battles and just writing what you write. I’m with her.

Goodreads has decided that there is no friendzone for authors and people. Nate Hoffelder writes about the now more confusing world of GoodReads, fans, followers and a weird gum-up that may send people away from GoodReads.

The New World of Writing: Pulp Speed. Dean Wesley Smith quite knowledgeable about pulp writers and writer, offers some awesome insight about writing fast. Warp speed fast. (H.T. Anne R. Allen)

Read, enjoy and have a great week. 🙂 WC

Do we have a right to be offended?


I just read a post by writer I really respect. He was commenting on another writer whom I’d never heard of and had some controversy swirling around him. I have to admit I had no idea what the article was talking about until I followed the links provided at the end.

The topic was sexism and an off-handed remark the author made about his books and writing. Apparently, many people were extremely offended. And a few got on their righteous indignation horses and rode them all around the neighborhood screaming at the top of their lungs about the utter gall of this author. Hmm…

In my opinion what the accused author said wasn’t offensive. It may have been a bit of a cop out, or maybe he was kidding or maybe he just didn’t want to answer the question but it didn’t denigrate women. If anything, the author seemed to be putting himself down for being somewhat clueless about women.

Yet, surprisingly a shit storm happened anyway. And now this author may be branded as a sexist. Sad. Really sad. Because based on the description of his books it sounds like he is one helluva writer.

I don’t think the Bill of Rights covers that

While the Bill of Rights ensures certain personal liberties the right to be offended and then to punish said offender does not exist within its confines. In fact, one of our guaranteed rights and liberties in this country is free speech. We in fact, have the right to say whatever we want in public. If it offends people so be it. If people agree with it, so be it. If people don’t agree with it, so be it. But we still have the right to say what we want.

However, what we don’t have the right to do in this country is to slander people. There are actually laws against it. You can actually be sued for doing it or attempting to do it. You could lose a lot – maybe everything – if you were taken to court for it and lost.

Still that doesn’t seem to stop some people from trying to stir up a shit storm and turn the masses against said offender. It doesn’t stop people from starting whisper campaigns and attempting to bully people out of existence. It doesn’t stop anyone from trying to destroy a person. God bless the Internet.

And in the end, this type of incident only serves to scare other writers and public figures from saying anything or writing anything of substance. Because they fear retribution. Because somebody might get offended and try to ruin them.

Small things are never the problem

There are many many things in this world that are truly oppressive, vile, disgusting and downright evil. And I believe as human beings we have the right and the duty to rail against them and if possible stop them. And oppression of women is on that list. There are cultures in this world that:

  • Treat women as chattel
  • Buy and sell them for sexual gratification
  • Mutilate their bodies
  • Stone them for having been raped
  • Kill them because it somehow restores honor
  • Beat or otherwise abuse them for fun

These things are wrong. Very wrong. Yes, we should try to stop them. Yes, we should try to help women in these situations. Yes, this needs to change. However, this author did none of these things. He simply said he was clueless about women.

And while there are many good examples of women being objectified in literature, 50 Shades comes to mind (a book written by a woman and read apparently widely by women) this author’s books (based on their descriptions) don’t seem to qualify. But apparently an absence of women now qualifies as offensive and God help the author who doesn’t include them.

Sorry but this doesn’t make sense to me. And in the reverse would we even be talking about this? For example, all of the thousands of books that explore and discuss and illustrate the trials and tribulations that women go through, are they sexist too because there is a sparsity of male characters? Or the male characters are bad, shallow, stereotypical? I haven’t heard one peep about such a notion. In fact, in modern literature, film and other entertainment venues male bashing, shaming and joking is not only okay, it’s expected.

The problem with this sort of situation (aside from the obvious) is that it’s not really the problem. Yes, there is oppression of women but this isn’t an example of it. And maybe it’s easier to fixate on this very tiny incident than it is to actually go after blatant, obvious real acts of oppression. Because it’s safer. And maybe you don’t think you’ll suffer retribution from it. Or maybe something else. And the problem this type of situation creates is that it doesn’t solve the problem you’re railing about, in fact, it ends up marginalizing it. It ends up having the opposite effect that you are shooting for, it ends up making the real problem disappear and killing the wrong horse, so to speak.

It’s like when a couple has a huge fight over the fact that the garbage wasn’t emptied. Now is the fight really about the garbage? Probably not, it’s probably really about the fact that one partner feels the other partner doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t respect them or care about their feelings. But that’s just too big a bite to chew. That’s too dangerous a topic to broach, so instead they have a knock down drag out about garbage for cripes sake.

Be the change you want to see

There is so much in this world that should be changed, could be improved or even brought to some ideal state. But bitching and moaning, complaining and attacking others does not bring about change. It only brings about fear. It only lathers up others into a feeding frenzy. And no one ever feels good afterwards. We all just feel crappy and then more crappy about it.

Beating up somebody about a negative real or imagined rarely changes anything. If you want change, real change, then you have make that change. If you see something that is wrong then change it. If we as authors want to change the perception of women in literature then we have to change that perception (and in fact, thousands of women authors are doing this everyday). As the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.

All the time, energy and effort that goes into attacking somebody for being a certain way or not being a certain way could be used to change the perception or even reality of a situation – and too there is less hate mail.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Should a Writer Make Fun of Their Readers?


Okay, so a couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business reading blogs that I subscribe to – one of which was on a blog I recently started reading. The blog author is very intense and writes with a take no prisoners attitude. Very popular.

However, as I started reading the post I frowned in confusion. First I couldn’t figure out what the point was – was it a rant, a joke, were they serious? Of course I had to read the entire post to finally get to the last line which basically said, in case you’re too dense to figure it out, this is satire.

But here’s the problem – satire is supposed to be funny. It makes fun of something or someone in a clever, witty way, that enables us to laugh, sometimes even at ourselves. But the post wasn’t funny. For a few reasons…

It danced around the topic instead of coming out and naming it outright. I mean crap, if you’re satirizing something shouldn’t you say what you’re satirizing? It was also very clear what the author’s personal views were on the topic and satire isn’t personal, it’s satire. And finally, it insulted anyone who didn’t share the author’s point of view. Myself included. It used phrases like ‘true believers’ and I believe ‘kool aid’ which we all know is code for well, you know….

I considered making a comment but in viewing the other comments I saw it would be a flame fest, should anyone have the opposite view of said satire.

In the end, I unsubscribed from the blog. But not because I was pissed and not even because the author and I had different views. I unsubscribed because I came away from that post thinking, “This writer thinks I’m an idiot.” And no matter what else I might’ve thought about the post, that was the lasting impression. So then why would I subscribe to a blog written by an author who thinks I’m an idiot? Naturally, I wouldn’t.

Now whether or not this author would give a flying crap about my unsubscribing from the blog is irrelevant. In fact, I’m pretty sure the author wouldn’t give a flying crap. Unless of course 100 other readers unsubscribed too. Or more. That might make the author notice. Or not. It’s hard to say. But I can guarantee, I’ll never buy anything written by that author. Which also means, I’ll never recommend anything written by that author, or their blog or conferences where the author is a speaker. And so on. So maybe it does matter or should.

We all have our world views and that’s fine. But there is a fine line between expressing our views and insulting our readers. I’m not sure I even know what that line is and frankly politics exhausts me so when I feel like ranting about it I try to do said ranting on political forums. Not always, but usually. But I find myself doing less and less of that because my focus is on books – writing them, reading them, helping other writers, and readers, making people laugh and generally not add to the noise of the incessant ranting on the Internet. I have to say, I do sleep much better at night now.

So, what do you think, would you unsubscribe from a blog under similar circumstances or just shrug it off?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Is Free a Fake-Out?

image courtesy of
image courtesy of

For as long as there have been marketers there has been the ever popular ‘freebie.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if freebies tracked back to caveman days. You know, one caveman fells a dinosaur but it’s way too much for the family to consume, so he hits the caveman mall and offers free samples to unsuspecting troglodytes out on their once yearly shopping trip, in hopes that he can sell those dino-meats before they go bad. (No refrigeration, right?)

While nobody is offering dino-meat these days, the concept still applies; offer a sample to get potential public interested in buying the thing they are sampling. Really it’s not a bad idea and from a marketing standpoint it can accomplish many things:

  • Introduce products to new consumers
  • Create word of mouth
  • Raise the public awareness of the seller and product
  • Forward a benevolent image of the company to the public
  • Entice potential buyers to buy another product

And then there was a thing called S.W.A.G.

A natural evolution of this free sample concept was SWAG (stuff we all get). This existed primarily within the entertainment biz, SWAG was probably always around to some degree but I believe got very popular around the 80s and has been more and more prevalent since.

If you’re a show biz addict and follow Hollywood gossip blogs, shows, and other outlets that give you the 411 on all things show biz then you know that presenters at awards shows, attendees of film festivals and other glitzy events get gift baskets composed of various goodies from a wide array of companies. Some of these ‘gift baskets’ are valued in the tens of thousands or more. They could contain, designer scents, designer bags, scarves, phones and other electronic gadgets, jewelry and so forth. Not too shabby huh? Naturally the purpose of these types of SWAG baskets go beyond wanting someone to sample the goods, they are meant to persuade the receiver to consider endorsing said products. Nothing like an endorsement from a popular celebrity to send sales soaring, right?

But as the Internet became more and more popular the concept of these freebie giveaways on steroids became known on a much wider scale (just like anything else). And ordinary, everyday people like you and me started wanted our swag too. In fact, generally speaking, the Internet has produced lots of SWAG itself whether legally or illegally. If somebody wants something free, there is likely a way to get it via the Internet. At least it appears to be free.

Is Free Really Free?

I think in part due to rampant piracy and public craving many companies, especially entertainment companies, gave in to the free concept. Better to give it away than have it stolen, right? Hoping that if they gave something away for free that it would encourage the public to eventually buy something. Not sure how that has turned out for them but you know…

And then about five or so years ago free became the new buzzword in Internet marketing. Every Internet marketing guru was screaming free at every turn and people believed them. No matter what their product, businesses large and small started giving away free stuff. Left and right, back and forth, up and down. Every other email had the word free in it and people bit. Big time. Because everybody likes free stuff, right?

Except there was a little catch because you couldn’t just go get the free thing. Oh no, you had to give them your email address, or sign up for their newsletter, or otherwise surrender some personal information in order to get the free thing. So that the marketer could email you forever and hawk their goods constantly, like five times a week, or even five times a day. And often getting off that list took an act of God. So was it worth it? Whatever little freebie you got, for all that spam and constant hawking? Was it really free?

How Free Back-Fired

Somewhere in this evolution small businesses, including single practitioners and creatives, started to believe they had to give their work away in order to get people to buy it. Think about that. You have to give your work away in order to get someone to buy it – does that make sense? I mean if you’re going to give you work away on the one hand and then ask that same person to pay you, what do you suppose is going to be the response? My guess is that that person will just shrug and move on to the next freebie giver.

Sure, you’ve got them on your email list but if they are only interested because you gave them something free, then of what value is that email address? Not much, right?

Unfortunately, now that free is a thing – everybody expects something for nothing. From healthcare to lipstick, half the people walking around this country have the attitude that they should get stuff for free – just because. It has nothing to do with deserving it, earning it or otherwise being entitled to it. In those minds the very fact that they live and breathe is reason enough to get it.

How Much is Free Really Worth?

I don’t know about you but in my case, 99% of anything I’ve ever gotten for free has been worth the same amount as the price tag. There is the rare eBook, or other item that has been valuable to me and I have gone back to that seller and bought things. But by and large my forays into the free universe have resulted mostly in overstuffed inboxes, unwanted emails, and just general annoyance. So I’ve turned over a new leaf. I no longer seek the free. I simply seek the things I need and want and yeah, I’m willing to pay for them. If I’m not willing to pay for them then I pass. I’ve been unsubscribing a lot too, which has been great for handling emails and saving me time. And I really think now before I click that button that is big, red and says FREE. Because I’ve realized that if something is worth having then it’s worth paying the person who has spent the time creating it, marketing it and so forth. Things don’t just spontaneously appear in the world. Somebody had to make it. They had to think it up, and take the steps necessary to bring it into being, and believe me that took time, energy, resources, and a helluva lot of work. Don’t they deserve to be paid for their trouble?

So what do you think about free stuff? Good, bad, somewhere in between?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Ranting, Bashing and Speaking Before Thinking


Let’s face it we all have bad days. Sometimes even bad weeks, months or years. It happens. Somebody says something or does something, or you make a terrible decision that comes back and knocks the heck out of you. If it’s traumatic, it’s hard to recover – no matter what you do.

And when we’re upset, sometimes our first inclination is to strike back. We’re not doormats after all, right? We shouldn’t take it lying down, right? All’s fair in love and war, right? Maybe not so much.

If someone wrongs you, has inflicted unwarranted pain on you, discouraged you, or flat out attacked you – then you have a right to counter-attack. Don’t you? Perhaps. Maybe if you could keep it strictly between you and the offender. But the problem is that in modern life, nothing is private. Even your disagreements with your spouse are likely to end up on Facebook or Twitter. So attacking your attacker with wild abandon may come back to bite you.

Don’t Click that Publish Button Yet

Too many people allow themselves to be swept away by their emotional response to a slight, insult, bad review, criticism, etc. Since everybody in the world has a blog, the first impulse is to write a scathing blog post about this terrible thing that has happened to you. But wait. Do you really want your mother to see that? How about a future prospect? Thousands of strangers? Your boss? Your clients, customers or readers? How will they respond? Chances are, not very well.

Sure, go ahead and write that post but don’t publish it. Let it sit there. Read it two weeks from now. Still want to publish it? If so, let it sit another two weeks, go back, and read it again. Chances are you’ll end up deleting it. And be glad you didn’t publish it. While striking back may make you feel better in the heat of the moment, there are a lot of reasons you should reconsider:

  • You could be wrong. Maybe you just misunderstood something and lept to conclusions
  • Others will be turned off and think you are petty
  • You may lose readers, customers, friends or other allies
  • You could be perceived as petty, angry and/or arrogant or even a bully
  • It could hurt others who don’t deserve it
  • It doesn’t change the situation and often makes it worse

The Best Revenge is Success

If you have any kind of online presence or your career puts you in the public eye, you’ll have detractors. It’s simply a fact of life. You can’t get away from it and if you try to attack it, things will only get worse because you chance starting a never-ending battle of being right. Think about it – do you really want to be engaged in the fight forever? So, what can you do?

To quote Vito Corleone:

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Depending on the type of attack, there are plenty of strategies you can use:

  • Ignore it
  • Hire a reputation management company
  • File a lawsuit
  • Provide documentation that demonstrates that accusation is false

In most cases, you don’t have to go as far as the above suggestions; generally, you can just go about your business, stay focused and succeed. People who try to engage you in firefights and online spats aren’t succeeding, which is why they feel the need to attack you. In you, they see a threat. It may only be real in their minds but that is likely what is motivating them. There’s no need for you to play the game. You should feel sorry for them and then move on. If you do, eventually they’ll get bored and move on too.

If you really want to get their goat – prosper and flourish. Succeed. Do you own thing. That’s what counts, right? Your own goals and what you’re trying to achieve? Not some petty words or acts committed by someone you barely know. Believe in yourself and carry on. Believe me, there’s nothing that drives naysayers crazier than that.

If you have to rant – do so in front of your dog or another non-English speaking creatures that don’t have access to a computer. You’ll feel better and nobody will be any the wiser.

What do you think about ranting and bashing on the Internet? Do you do it? Do you like it? Hate it? How do you handle such situations?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Waiting for All to be Right with the World

waiting for all to be right with the worldI started this blog so that (among other things) I would commit to writing every day. I knew I needed discipline and this blog was the ways and means to obtain that discipline.

And I did it.

For the first four years, come rain or shine, happy or sad – I wrote.

Then somewhere along the way I stopped. I looked around and noticed most bloggers weren’t posting everyday. So why should I? I posted less.

Then things happened.

I moved.

I got engaged.

We broke up.

I moved again. And again. And again.

Then the economy.

I still wrote. I still blogged. But less often. And then even less.
Then I got it in my head that I needed advice. There’s lots of advice on how to blog. What to blog. The best way to blog. The worst way to blog. Niche blogging. Power blogging. Business blogging.

I signed up for every webinar, newsletter and mailing list that could teach me how to blog. Forget the fact that I’d been blogging for years. Apparently I needed to learn to how to do it right.

Didn’t help. Not only was I not inspired to write more. I wrote less. I never had any ideas. The few idea I had – I didn’t like. Writing became a chore.

I threw up my hands and started a new novel. Actually, I’d started a few others but they went exactly nowhere. But this one was different. It engaged me. The story mattered to me. I wasn’t blogging but I was writing.


I still didn’t write every day.

Why not? For lots of reasons. Did any of them matter? Nope.

Life is messy – always. Even when you get a reprieve, it’s not for long. Cars break down. Clients disappear. Too much work. Not enough work. Work dries up. Sure things never are. Friends move. Loved ones get sick. There’s always something. Always. Something.

But then it hit me. My problem. I’ve been waiting for all to be right with the world. Like I needed some special nirvanic place in which to create. So if I had to wait for all to be right with the world before I could write that meant that I couldn’t write until: Things settled down. I landed more clients. Tax season was over. I’d lost twenty pounds. I wasn’t so tired. After the laundry. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Personally, I believe we all do this. We put aside things that matter to us while we’re waiting for all to be right with the world. The economy. Our jobs. Our kids. Our parents. Politics. The house is messy. The lawn needs mowing. It’s too noisy. It’s too quiet.

Meanwhile, we’re not doing the thing that makes life worth living. We’re not doing what makes us feel alive and like ourselves. We’re just waiting for a license to survive. To create. To be who we are. Waiting for someone to show up and assure us that we’re now allowed to write that novel, make that film, start that business, join that group, take those dance lessons. Whatever it is – we deny ourselves because we think there’s a special moment in time that will signal that all is right with our worlds and we can proceed.

But the truth is – there is never a right time

The only time you actually get is right now. Tomorrow is less of a promise and more of a hope. No matter how much you plan, life will mess up your plans. No matter how much stuff you put on your calendar something will knock it off. As long as you’re waiting for permission, you’ll never get it.

And besides all that, all will never be right with the world. No matter how much we want it. No matter how much people are convinced that they can make it happen (if only everyone would cooperate with them!). Not going to happen. Utopia is not coming to a theater near you any time soon. And probably not at all.

But what you can do is start that thing that you want so desperately. Sign up for that class. Write that book. Start that business. Learn that skill. Go back to school. Dare to be you. Right now. This minute.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

Memorial 2014 – With Gratitude

memorial day 2014  with gratitudeOn this 3-day weekend we look forward to some time off and gatherings with friends and family.  Often forgetting the real reason for the holiday. Picnics are great. So are fireworks. Lemonade. Watermelon. Ice-cold beer. All good.

But I try to remember that we have holidays, picnics, great food, freedom of travel and gathering because of those who have stood the watch. Because of those who’ve defended our freedoms and liberties  – often with their lives.

Small things matter

My room mate just got back from grocery shopping and he told me there was a man ahead of him in line who was a Viet Nam vet. He was badly injured and burned and had a hard time putting his groceries in his cart. It took a long time.  My room mate gave him bags and helped him pack his groceries and carry them to his car. A small thing. But it made me proud of my room mate that he stopped and cared.

From Valley Forge to Afghanistan selfless Americans have gone to war to protect this country and its citizens.

I thank them for their service. I thank their families for their sacrifice. I keep them in my prayers.

Be safe this holiday weekend – and if you get the chance, do a small thing for someone to show you care.


God Bless

Writer Chick



Does everything have to be a “thing”? (Are you just a marketing widget?)

photograph courtesy of
photograph courtesy of

You can chalk it up to the rebel in me but I really hate labels.  And it seems like more and more that every activity, belief, principle, component, element has to have a label.  It has to be a ‘thing.’  Know what I mean?

For example…

Can’t we just be good about conservation, maximize our resources, re-purpose our old stuff, and care about nature in general without having to be an environmentalist? Or worried about global warming, climate change – or whatever the kids are calling it these days?

Or can’t people who read blogs or books just be readers instead of your tribe,  your audience, your peeps?

Can’t we just be Americans without the hyphens?

Do our sex lives have to define us? Straight? Gay? Transgender? Bi? And how on Earth did our ‘sexual orientation’ (another word that drives me bats) become political?

As Americans don’t we all just have rights?  Do we really need sub-categories of women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, illegal immigrant rights?  Do our smart-phones, tablets, computers, televisions and cars have rights too? Maybe not today but don’t be surprised if somebody suggests it in the not too distant future.

Are we all just widgets and demographics?

I think it’s interesting that people are so concerned about political parties and who has minorities and majorities in this administration or that administration.  And yeah, it’s important.  But the thing we all seem to miss is that the people who have the real power are those who can convince us that we belong in groups.  That we are merely a number in their given category.  That we aren’t really individuals.  That we are defined by our interests and not by who we are. Who are these nefarious folks?  Marketers.  People who want to sell us stuff.  And no matter how much stuff they sell us, they want to sell us more. We’re not people, we’re just group members, numbers, part of the demo – widgets.

For example, I’m ‘white, middle-age, single female, christian, conservative baby boomer.’  These folks don’t care that I love animals, would help anyone who needed help, am a great cook, can make people laugh, grow the best tomatoes on the planet, love a good steak, have passion for the written word, hate to drive but love cars, voracious reader, prolific writer, love puns, cry at beautiful things, shoot straight from the hip kind of gal.  Because they don’t see me or you as a person, just as someone to manipulate to buy and use their stuff. (And there’s that whole creating the us against them scenario, which I probably shouldn’t even go into here…)

If you’re worried about the government spying on you and learning all about you, then you should be terrified of the marketers out there who are doing it in spades.  I mean, who do you think taught the government how to do it? Whose technology does the government use to learn all your secrets?

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with people wanting to sell their wares.  There are a lot of really cool and useful products and services out there and people who want them and can use them, should know about them.  But I am suggesting that we have allowed marketers to get so inside our heads that we no longer define ourselves – instead we let them define us. Know what I mean?

Resistance is futile – or is it?

So I suggest that we resist.  Stop letting them make you a widget in a crowd of widgets.  Resist the urge of putting yourself into categories – especially ones provided by others.  Define yourself.  Use your own words.  Be the unique person that you are. Because we’re people, damn it! Right?

Are you tired of feeling like a widget in the big demographic machine?  Or do you like the labels?  Why?

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014