Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Temper Tantrum: Annoying Characters

On great moment in writing a book is when the characters spring to life and start acting on their own. When that happens it’s a joy to sit down at the keyboard as you are hooked on the scene and you want to find out what your characters are going to do and how they will handle the situation you’ve set up.

When you start writing with these characters you sit down at your keyboard until you notice that your lower body is protesting and then notice you’ve written 5,000 words in one sitting.

The flip side is when you have a character that you’ve formed a complete backstory for, have their motivations down and even some of their little quirks mapped out and when they enter the scene they draw all the life out of it, the writing equivalent to watching a movie starring Ben Affleck.

I somehow managed to get one of these characters in my latest book and she is killing me. Every piece of dialog has to be written three times and still comes out flat. So I might write 3,000 words but what finally makes it on the page is under a thousand and I know I’m going to have to go back and rewrite it.

So my progress is jerky, I’ll zoom through 3,000 to 5,000 words a day with my strong characters that have come alive and then hit a scene with her and it will take a week to get the 1,500 word scene out.

The only good part about the fact that I really hate this character is that I had to have the heroes question her for information, and they were probably a bit rougher on her than if she had really come alive in the book before then.

It made for a good scene but if I can’t go back and get some life into her character it will be meaningless as the reader will just be totally indifferent to her and not care.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Religious Extremists

This morning at breakfast I looked at my toast and saw the image of the Prophet Mohammad, and I wondered if I were an Islamic Extremist would I have to declare a jihad on myself and blow myself up?

This got me to thinking about Religious Extremists, not the 98% of religious people who try to benefit from all religions emphasis on community and being a good human being. But for about 2% of all religious people those messages go haywire.

Islamic Extremists seem to want to blow everything up.

Protestant Extremists want to selectively shoot people.

Catholic Extremists see the image of Jesus everywhere and have a hard time believing that others don’t see it as well.

Unitarian Extremists talk about social policy for days on end (as opposed to the non-extremists who only talk about for a few hours on end).

Basically these 2% have mental problems that they use their religion to justify. So to those people who use their religion as an excuse for their own mental problems, I say, “Shut up Stupid and get some professional help.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Silliness

This is an old one, back in the mid-90s there was a show called the Vacant Lot. It was funny as hell and here is one of my favorite songs they did.


By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Green Shoots

I’ve talked a lot about how the economy is tied to investments in Research and Development, so I found this graph really interesting.

It really shows how the US has suffered under the anti-science policies of the last Presidents. When we had a strong commitment to government funded R&D and Education we were the leader in advanced technology and the world bought it from us. When we stopped the rest of the world overtook us.

As part of the stimulus package $90 Billion was given to Clean Energy Research. That $90 Billion encouraged private investors to put up over $300 Billion for research. As a result the US is going from a non-player in the Advanced Battery Market to being expected to have a 20% share by 2012. The solar power industry that the US started and then abandoned is getting a huge boost as the US is looking into the next-generation of solar cells that will cut costs in half. This would turn the US into a major producer of solar cells.

A less glamorous part of the research is to bring our current railroad system that has deteriorated from moving at 65 miles an hour to 40 mph back up and surpass its old speed going 110 mph. These innovations can be shipped around the world as most countries have a rail system that can be upgraded.

However we are not alone, China has a $740 Billion, 10-year investment into Clean Energy research. The race for Clean Energy could turn out to be like the Space Race in the 50s and 60s. If the US stays on track and continues to invest $90 Billion a year into Clean Energy to stay ahead of China the economic reward will go to the winner and since it is such a big field we are sure to win in some areas and they are sure to win in others. But the true overall winners will be the citizens of the world who will be able to enjoy nearly limitless clean renewable energy.

This investment into clean energy research is the start of our fantastic future.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: Jobs

I’m getting really mad at hearing the conservative argument over and over again on creating jobs.
Step 1: Give money to the wealthiest top 1%
Step 2: ?
Step 3: Jobs

We’ve tried that and found that just like every economist, outside the Chicago School, has said before it was tried this doesn’t work. We just went through a decade of giving huge hand outs to the wealthy and every year between 2001 and 2010 the number of private sector jobs created lagged the increase in workforce. The only reason we weren’t seeing the unemployment figures going up dramatically instead of slowly was the Federal Government expanded rapidly in that time.

There are two ways jobs are created. Either there is an increase in the demand for an existing product or service, or a new product or service is created.

As far as demand for existing products or service there is only so much the government can do. If demand for a product is steady the number of jobs created from demand for that product will grow smaller as the people in that industry get more productive from advances in efficiency.

As far as creating new products the government can do a lot. Almost any research into science creates totally unexpected products.

I read an article on Cracked today “5 Inventions You Won’t Believe Came From War” and two of those items really struck this point home.

Tampons- Tampons were invented because Governments like to send their citizens places to shoot other Governments citizens. Some people like to see this as the primary role of Government.

When someone gets shot they tend to have a hole in them that gushes out blood, so the Army spent some research money on how to stop this. They researched super absorbent bandages that were given to the Army nurses to use on the heavily bleeding GI’s and of course the nurses quickly found other uses for it and a huge new market was invented.

Silly Putty – No one would spend millions of dollars to make a product that permanently has the consistency of freshly chewed gum, but Silly Putty was still made. It discovered as the US was trying to make synthetic rubber to react to the embargo they knew Japan was going to enact. One attempt was Silly Putty after a quick round of testing they figured out it didn’t make terribly useful tires, but it was sure fun to play with and a new market was born.

So in order to make more jobs and put America back to work the solution is simple. Put a huge amount of money into researching Green Technology. Not only will it keep money here in the US from energy savings, but it is bound to create totally new and unexpected products that will create more jobs.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Silliness

I stumbled across this and had to share.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Carbon Capture vs. Carbon Recycling

The evidence that the build up of CO2 in the atmosphere is altering the climate is undeniable. So the time to do something about it now. This post concentrates on what can be done.

For the foreseeable future human civilization will continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere, and reducing that is critical. Besides alternative energy and greater efficiency we can reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere at its source.

The first approach to this problem is to do what scientists and engineers always do when confronted with a problem, look to see what NASA did with a similar problem.

NASA had to deal with CO2 build up in spacecraft and used chemical scrubbers to get rid of it. So companies have taken that idea and scaled it up to use on power plants. Unfortunately, it doesn’t scale up very well. Using chemical scrubbers on smokestacks costs about $150 per ton of CO2 removed. Obviously this would go down if any money were given to R&D of this technique but even with incentives it will remain expensive.

The other approach is to look at nature, when CO2 builds up in water algae blooms. Rather than capturing the CO2 and storing it underground, the smokestack emissions are pumped directly into wastewater that contains algae and exposed to light. The algae eats up the Carbon and releases oxygen. It also eats up other pollutants like nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide and turns it all into a useful form.

The algae grown from this process can easily be turned into biofuel that can be used in place of oil.

Currently algae derived biofuel is marginally profitable so making a coal or gas fired power plant use this process makes some economic sense. With a little money pumped into R&D this method could supply a second form of revenue for power plants, which would make it profitable turn the power plants into clean energy sources.

This method isn’t completely carbon neutral as the biofuel will release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the oil it replaces, but it will use that carbon twice seriously reducing the amount of CO2 that goes into the atmosphere, and that will lead to a fantastic future.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writing Wednesday: Chapter 1 of THE SETTING EARTH

I've been working on getting my book THE SETTING EARTH ready to be an ebook and I've got the first ten chapters to a marketable stage. I'd love to get any input on it so here is the first chapter.
I'd love to know if you think you could spend 300 pages with this group of engineers, and of course Sam the main character.
If you feel this chapter sets a tone for the book that you would like to follow.
If you think I put too much or too little emphasis on the cultural differences between the two worlds up front.
Feel free to enjoy it, if you don't I would love to know what you didn't like about it.


The Setting Earth
Chapter 1

“Into the lion’s den.” Sam took a deep breath as he approached the group of off-world engineers in the cafeteria. He carefully watched their reaction to his coming over to the table, he had heard stories about how the off-worlders reacted to “the enemy” and was prepared for their hostility. On his 6-week journey from Earth to Ceres he had thought up, and then shot down, a dozen different ways to approach the engineers from Ganymede that were notorious for hating everything about Earth and all Earthers.

If it were up to him he would avoid any social contact with the heathen engineers, as he had been taught from childhood to do with anyone who might expose him to unorthodox views, but he was under orders from Earth Intelligence and the head of the Lunar Mining Consortium herself, Isabella. He knew that if he were unsuccessful in his mission he would be a man without a Planet, as he would never be allowed back to Earth and he would never be able to live with the godless Ganymedians.

He finally decided on the direct approach, he would approach them and stoically take their hatred of him and everything his planet stood for and try to spot the one that openly hated Earth the least.

“Come join us.” A gray bearded engineer said enthusiastically before Sam got to the table, “We are talking about the project, I’m sure you have some unique thoughts on it.”

“Okay.” Sam said, he had been told to get information from the engineers and assumed it would be difficult to gain their trust. It appeared he assumed wrong, he wondered what other assumptions he had made might be wrong.

“I’m Mark by the way, I work on the targeting system.” The gray bearded engineer introduced himself, “You’re from Earth I assume.”

“Sam.” He responded as he tried to lower his tray onto the table and dropped his arms faster than the tray fell in the low gravity leaving it suspended in mid-air until he caught it again, “How’d you guess.”

“It’s the walk.” Mark told him, “It takes Earthers awhile to adjust to being 5 pounds. You can’t really learn to walk properly in the cramped quarters of a spaceship. So how long have you been on Ceres?”

“Just arrived this morning.” Sam told the crowd that was watching him with great interest. His short response was influenced by two factors; he didn’t want to give too much away, and simply maneuvering to sit down was an incredibly complex task as in the low gravity everything seemed to move with a life of its own.

“Come to spy on our project?” One of the younger engineers asked then laughed.

Before he could respond a female engineer that was roughly Sam’s age replied. “Of course he is John, I for one have nothing to hide.”

“You don’t hide much from anyone, do you Emma?” Mark asked jokingly.

“I don’t have anything to embarrassed about, unlike you.” Emma shot back then turned to Sam, “Let me show you something else low gravity does, other than make it hard for Earthers to walk.”

She lifted her shirt and let her breasts flop out. She jiggled for a split second then remained perfectly still. Without Earth’s strong gravity pulling them down they continued to dance, jiggling around like they had a mind of their own.

“Put those away,” The remaining male engineer laughed, “You’re embarrassing our new friend.”

Sam didn’t want to admit it but he was totally shocked. Back on Earth few women would be bold enough not to wear a suppressing bra that tried to hide their femininity. Here the women wandered around in the thinnest shirts, proudly putting themselves on display. The idea of a woman flashing a complete stranger was unheard of back on Earth.

Sam instinctively looked around for the authorities that would stop this sort of immoral public display.

“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” Emma told him pulling her shirt back down, “I didn’t mean to make you blush.”

“I, I was just surprised.” Sam stammered, as surprised as he was he was still grateful that her display had turned the conversation away from if he was a spy or not.

“I guess what they say about Earth is true then?” The youngest female engineer said.

“And what do they say?” Sam asked.

“That you guys have stopped having sex.” She smiled.

“Oh we still have it,” Sam told the girl who looked barely old enough to be out of high school, “We just do it discretely.”

“So how do you improve your technique if you don’t have a panel of judges with scorecards grading you?” She asked with a straight face.

Sam had heard the stories about how the off-worlders were promiscuous but that seemed extreme. He opened his mouth to say something but no words came out.

“Dude, you totally believed me, didn’t you?” She asked starting a round of laughter at the table.

“I’m sorry.” She said when she regained her composure, “I didn’t mean to pick on you, it’s just we’ve all heard the myths about Earthers and I wanted to test to see if they were true.”

“Myths?” Sam had to ask.

“You know,” She said vaguely, when Sam didn’t respond she continued, “That woman try to look like men in public, and that sex for purposes other than reproduction is outlawed.”

It was Sam’s turn to laugh at her comment.

“I’m not sure how you could enforce a law like that.” He laughed, “It’s true that we consider it a virtue to wait until marriage to have sex, but even that isn’t followed by everyone. There are many people who would like to have it outlawed, but most people understand you can’t enforce that type of thing.

“As far as our fashions, we don’t live in a climate controlled environment like you guys so our fashions tend to be more utilitarian than just for fashion sake.”

“I also wanted to do a twist on the old space corridor legend.” She told him.

“Legend?” Sam asked.

“Supposedly at Selene University, on the Moon, an Earther biologist substituted for the regular Professor.” She explained, “He was comfortable talking about how sperm contained acids, fructose and enzymes and stuff but no salt, which made the sixteen year old girl from Ganymede in the front row ask, ‘Then how come it tastes so salty?’”

“The Earther professor turned red and had to leave the room.”

The entire table laughed except Sam.

“How’s that funny?” He asked he really couldn’t see why they would find someone’s normal reaction to a girl’s immoral behavior funny.

“The biologist got embarrassed about…” She started and looked at Sam’s blank expression, “He couldn’t answer a question about a normal part of life…something people do everyday…”

“Maria, If you do that everyday,” Mark joked, “I’ll stop by tonight.”

“I didn’t mean I do it every day.” She told him, “Not recently anyway. I said people in general.”

“Let’s stop picking on poor Sam.” Emma told the group then turned to him, “You have to forgive us, we don’t come into much contact with Earthers. Most of the Earthers that come off world are either like them…” She nodded towards the group of laborers that had been on the ship with Sam, they were at their own table praying before their meal. “Or them…” She nodded towards the group of accountants still in business suits going over numbers while they ate.

“All the Earthers I’ve met either want to convert me, or feel that they need to know why I used four sheets of toilet paper to wipe instead of three.” She continued, “You’re the first one who has felt like joining us heathens, I believe we’re called.”

“Well, that’s cause he’s a spy.” John laughed at his own joke.

“And he’ll learn all about our super secret fashion techniques.” Emma shot back.

“Actually, I’m about as sick of those guys as you are.” Sam said quietly so the other tables couldn’t hear, “I spent over a month on board the ship with both groups listening to how my bowel movements were part of God’s plan then having the other group record everything that happened in the bathroom so they could judge to see how it compared with the average.

“I mean I’m religious and cost conscious and all, but they take it too far.

“It’s good to talk about anything else.” Sam was a little surprised at the feeling of relief he got from stating something that would be considered unorthodox and have him viewed with suspicion back on Earth.

“How did you do?” Maria asked him.

“How’d I do what?” Sam was baffled.

“How did your bathroom scores rank against everyone else?” Maria grinned.

“It took a little practice but towards the end I think I beat out the competition.” Sam joked, “I’m expecting a trophy when I get back home.”

“I think you’ll fit in just fine.” Emma told him after laughing at his joke, “You’re going to be working on the Diverter with us, right?”

“That’s why I’m here.” Sam said, grateful for the change in subject.

“Good, I’ll have your assignments laid out for you after lunch.” She told him.

“You’re the project manager?” Sam was astonished.

“You’re surprised?” She asked.

“It’s just…” Sam started then stopped trying to think of a tactful way to phrase his feelings.

“I’m sorry, like I said I haven’t met a lot of Earthers,” She stared into his eyes making it even harder for Sam to think, “I’m not up to date with you’re prejudices.”

“It’s not that.” Sam defended himself, “I’m not used to the boss flashing her… goofing around with the subordinates.”

“Why not?” Emma asked.

“Doesn’t it make it hard to be the boss later.” Sam asked.

“That’s right, I heard Earthers have a higher…a stacked…a pyramid type organizational structure.” Maria said, “They, I mean you, group into people into classes to assign work projects.”

“I think you mean hierarchy.” Sam told her, “How else would you get things done?”

“I think you’ll be in for a surprise.” Emma gave him a captivating smile, “Our work structure is a little more relaxed out here.

“Speaking of that is everyone finished?”

After they all confirmed she said, “Well, let’s get back at it.”

Sam hopped up out of his seat and floated towards the 10’ high ceiling. He would have hit his head if he hadn’t put his arm out. When his feet were back on the ground he looked at the engineers at the table expecting them to laugh at his mistake. But everyone except a middle-aged engineer ignored his unexpected leap towards the ceiling and continued cleaning up their areas.

“What you have to do; is follow the three-point rule. Always keep three points of contact, that means using both your hands and feet. Hold the table like this…” He grabbed the table and stood up, “That will keep you from bouncing around the room.”

“Thanks.” Sam told him.

“No Problem,” The engineer offered his hand, “Phil by the way. If you’re wondering on how to adjust to life here, just ask me.”

“Thanks again.” Sam welcomed the support but he remembered the instructions Isabella had him given before leaving Earth, Gain their trust but don’t lose sight of your mission.

On his way out of the cafeteria, Sam watched how the group of engineers “walked” with strange swaying shuffles. Sam tried to imitate it with some success until he got to the door.

He aimed for the door but noticed he was veering too far to the right he put his right foot forward to correct his trajectory but it seemed to slide effortlessly across the very rough floor and he bumped in to the doorframe.

He put his left foot back to try to regain his balance but it couldn’t find any traction and he felt himself slowly falling over. He had more than enough time to prepare to hit the ground, as the process took more than second. He instinctively turned in midair and put out both arms to stop his fall and was surprised that one arm would have been enough.

He was stuck in a push-up position unsure if he should just push himself back up with his arms, or get onto his knees and get his feet under him like he would on Earth.

The question resolved itself when Phil held out his hand. With Phil’s help he was able easily right himself.

“Until you get used to our gravity, don’t be afraid to put your hand out to stop your momentum.” Phil told him, “Trust me, it’s damn hard to hurt yourself in this gravity.”

“Thanks” Was all Sam was able to mutter.

On the way to the work area Sam took Phil’s advice and used his hands on the corridor walls often. He felt like a fool not being able to walk properly, but his new friends just ignored his bouncing around. Sam couldn’t help but fear that his obvious inability to conform with the rest of the group would catch the attention of the authorities like it would on Earth, but here everyone treated his not fitting in as normal.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: Too much Stupid

I wasn’t able to write my Shut-up Stupid Sunday last week because I was overwhelmed by the shear amount of stupidity in the news, so I will use today to have a stupidity round up.


Apparently New York City Muslims are planning on converting an old Burlington Coat Factory outlet into a community center just across the street from NEW YORK DOLLS strip club in Manhattan. Republicans say this is hollowed ground and it is a grave insult to workers at Male Striper Directory that is just three blocks away.

Correction: The Republicans say they are upset that is being built two blocks away from World Trade Center crater, an area that for the last 9 years has only been useful to New Yorkers as the best place to get the falafels in the city as there are two competing falafel stands next to the crater.

This outrage is stupid on so many levels I don’t know where to start. I’ll start with the idea expressed by Rand Paul the crazy teabagger running for Senate in my state, he commented that we don’t want people from New York City getting involved in zoning issues in Kentucky, so people from Kentucky shouldn’t get involved in zoning issues in Manhattan. He might be crazy but it’s a crazy issue so that makes him an expert.

The second part of this is more fundamental, The First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The only government power that can dictate where a church can or cannot be built is the local zoning board, period.

On a philosophical ground, the US is the most religious industrialized country in the world not because the government forces its citizens to be religious but because it keeps itself at an arms length away from religion.


Another thing the Republicans are up in arms over is that it turns out that anyone born on US soil is an American Citizen.

They think illegal aliens will have a child in the US making it a citizen. Then when that child is 21 it can sponsor the government to allow its parents to immigrate a process that takes 10 years. This loophole allows illegal aliens to come to our country in a mere 31 years as opposed to just buying a fake ID and living here, or getting their Green Card and working in the US for ten years while they apply for citizenship.

Everyone knows that Mexicans are hard workers so they will naturally take the hardest most convoluted way of becoming a citizen possible, so we should change our constitution to stop that.


The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 5% of the nation are set to expire, this will lower the budget deficit dramatically. The Republicans have a way to save this tax break for people who have so much money they can destroy an entire god damn ocean and then just write a check to cover the damage and write, “oops” in the memo line. They can grab the money from the old people who have put into Social Security all their lives.

According to Paul Ryan (R-WI) we have two choices, raise the income tax on the top 5% of wage earners by a whopping 3%, an amount that would have them paying almost the same percentage in taxes (not counting deductions) as someone making $95,000 a year. Or, grab the money from Social Security and let two-thirds of the seniors in this country live on catfood instead of living high on the hog with their $14,000 a year Social Security benefits.

How is this even a choice?


Looking at the news this last week I am reminded of Sigourney Weaver’s line in the beginning of ALIENS, “Did IQ’s drop dramatically while I was asleep?”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Cover Art for my ebook

I figured I'd sketch out my idea for the cover art for the book I plan on publishing as an ebook. I was going to turn it over to a professional to finish, but I have to say I think I did a good enough job to use my draft as the cover.

I was hoping to get some opinions on it. Is it ok? or am I biased because I did it?

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Regenerating Organs

A lot of reptiles have the amazing ability to lose a limb and just grow it back. So what to a human would be a life altering disaster is just a mild inconvenience. I’m sure anyone who lost an arm or a leg would like to have the ability to just grow it back.

Researchers in California have come up with the first step in that process. Removing a barrier to regrowing organs.

Basically by removing two cancer-preventing genes they can restart the muscle growing properties of muscle cells. Obviously these genes can only be turned off for a short time or else the cells start becoming cancerous, but in that short time they might be able to repair muscle damage to the heart, or many other places in the body that muscle damage impairs.

As research in this field progresses we might find more ways to regrow different types of tissues and eventually regrow entire organs and limbs.

What today is a lifetime disability like losing an arm, will mean a few weeks in the hospital and your good as new. This will lead to a Fantastic Future.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writing Wednesday: What type of writer do I want to be?

In a lot of the agent blogs I read about publishing they have talked about some of the problems of the publishing industry, and I promptly ignored those posts. I just tried to zero in on what they wanted out of a book, besides a guaranteed best seller, which no one can predict.

Oddly enough my goal was never to be a best selling author, my dreams were of being the type of writer that was shown in the Marilyn Monroe movie, THE 7-YEAR ITCH. Where the publishers didn’t care what the content was, they just put a flashy cover on it and provocative title and shipped it out.

That’s how some of my favorite writers got their start.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to break into the paperback market anymore. At the time THE 7-YEAR ITCH was made cities had lots of newsstands and small book shops, as well as small general stores in every neighborhood. The chances of getting a book in few thousand-niche markets were pretty good.

Now paperbacks are carried in Wal-Mart and Borders the micro bookstands are gone and the small bookstores are being crushed.

Wal-Mart is famous for screwing over manufacturers and Borders has a new marketing plan where they order 10 times the amount of books they think they can sell and return 90% of them.

So instead of having a break even point of 2,000 books sold paperback publishers have a new break even point of 20,000 books. That means publishers need to be very cautious of what books they print and only print knock offs of best sellers.

I could if I wanted to scan the best sellers and write a fairly decent knock off, but if I’m going to do that I might as well get back into selling insurance, as writing that way would be actual work.

It would also be low paid work as a mid-listed author can expect to make $12,000 to $15,000 per book, which isn’t to bad considering I could probably pump out a rough draft in a month and spend two months editing it. That’s 3 to 4 books a year or $48,000 a year, a decent living. However publishers want to limit their mid-list titles to one a year so the author can spend the rest of the year promoting it.

Looking at all this I realized someone would have to be crazy to want to put forth the amount of work needed to become a mid-listed author and make basically minimum wage. I realized that makes me qualified but I still should try and find another way. I think I found it.

I stumbled across this blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, by Joe Korath a successful mid-list author. He has switched entirely to self-published ebooks and his numbers are impressive. He has the huge advantage of already being a mid-list author so I thought I would try and take his model and scale it down to something I might be able to do.

Goal: 2,000 ebooks sold at $2.99

Gross Sales: $5,980

Net at 70% commission: $4,186


Artwork $50 (I can draw a rough outline and have an art student do a better job than a lot of titles out there).

Proof Reading: $150 (I can hire a senior English major to catch 90% of my mistakes, this wouldn’t pass for a novel someone paid $20 for but for $3 it’s a totally different story.)

Cards, fliers the whole marketing thing: $50

Total Expenses: $250

Profit: $3,936 per title.

Titles per year: 3

Annual Income: $11,808

In other words, using his model I can sell so few books that a major publisher would want to hunt me down and shoot me and still make the nearly the same amount that I would as a mid-listed author.

Luckily I’ve got the perfect book to start with.

I wrote the “Setting Earth” purely for fun. It was heavily influenced by Arthur C. Clarke and Heinlein, two authors that agents say they would put an email block on if they were alive today.

I’m betting that there are enough fans of their works out there that would be willing to part with $3 to make back the $250 (125 copies) I will spend on getting the book ready.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Temper Tantrum: The Pursuit of Happiness.

After my last Shut-up Stupid Sunday when I talked about the GOP platform wanting to enforce Sodomy laws, I remembered a little piece that wrote about 5 years ago. I thought it would be a good time to recycle it.

“In February, Alabama's controversial ban on sex toy sales went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which — much to the disappointment of sex toy providers — refused to examine the constitutionality of the ban. Under an Alabama law passed in 1998, selling a dildo or vibrator in that state can result in a year of incarceration and a $10,000 fine — and there are six other states where selling sex toys is illegal or greatly restricted, including Georgia and Texas (where schoolteacher Joanne Webb was arrested in 2003 for selling vibrators).”

I wonder if there is any act which can be considered more of a “Pursuit of Happiness” than a woman’s right to “Check the status of the I/O port”. I personally can’t see how a woman can pursue Happiness more than when she is “Auditioning the finger puppets.”
Alabama wants to fine woman $10,000 just for “Coaxing the genie out of the magic lamp”. Imagine if it was a fine for each time a woman “did the sweet slide”. I personally know some women who would be out $10,950,000 per year, that’s about $ 657,000,000 in their lifetime. All for just “Filling the pink taco”.

It’s time we stood up for women who like “Fingerpainting”, We need a Million “Muffin buffin'” March for women who “Let thier fingers do the walking.”

What possible justification can any elected official give for denying a woman the right to “Make a mini Eiffel Tower “, Who do they think they are making “Playing couch hockey for one.” Illegal?

I’m sure woman have been going “Indoor Fishing” from like 10 minutes after indoors was invented. But States like Alabama declare: That “Flipping the light switch repeatedly” is illegal. Well women across America should give them the sticky finger.
If women want to “Open the bottom drawer” so they can “Paddle the pink canoe”, it’s totally their choice and it’s not up to the government to decide.

How can any state be so Mephistophelean that they think banning “Having ladyfingers and cream” is possibly a good idea.

Are they afraid women are sending out “Muffin Morse Code”?

It’s not just women who are affected by this, a lot of husbands like their “oven pre-heated” and enjoy watching their wives “Polishing the wedding ring”.

All women who like “Touching the tigeress” and “Twinkling the little star” should write their elected officials and let them know. “I Read the map of Tasmania and I vote.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Anti-Civil Rights People

In reaction to the recent ruling that bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional, Republicans want to criminalize sodomy, their platform for 2010 states: "We oppose the legalization of sodomy, We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy."

I had to wonder how the US stood in relation to other countries of the world.

In the US a handful of states and the military have anti-sodomy laws, although the state anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional they are still on the books, and with the military what can I say, they march to their own drummer and they’ve got guns so they do what they want.

I decided to first check on that Socialist Menace to our north with their 6.8% unemployment rate and non-failing banks (What a menace) and see what Canada’s laws were.

They are a little strange.

Consensual Sodomy between adults is fine as long as no more than two people are present, this requirement is waived if the couple is married. So if you are single, three-ways are illegal unless the other partners are married. A little strange but OK, I’m going with the idea that they are a little more open-minded than we are.

I figured I’d look at a more evil country, I grew up during the cold war so I naturally thought of Russia.

Consensual Sodomy between males was decriminalized in 1993, it was always legal for women.

I guess they aren’t evil enough, so I looked at that great oppressive country of China.

In 1957 the Chinese Supreme Court ruled Consensual Sodomy between adults was not a criminal act and any form of sex between consenting adults is not the business of the state.

So China during the rule of Chairman Mao was more open about sex than several of the states in the US.

Still not evil enough, so I turned to the Republican Boogey Man, North Korea.

Although no homosexual related laws are currently known in North Korea, the government states that while they respect those who are homosexuals, they reject many western gay cultures as they embrace consumerism, classism and promiscuity.

From what I can tell it’s fine to be gay as long as you don’t dress gay. I guess Kim Jong-Il doesn’t want to be shown up.

So to everyone who wants to bring back the enforcement of Sodomy laws, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, your stance on this is more oppressive to human rights than China under Mao or North Korea, the two countries known for oppressive regimes.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writing Wednesday: Torturing your Characters (for fun and profit)

Part of character writing is to make a character who you love and you want to spend a lot of time with, and then torture that character mercilessly until they get the strength to break free and save themselves. It is part of what makes for good reading.

Without torturing your character to their breaking point it would be a pretty bad novel.

Imagine a novel where the main character was a high school girl who moved to a town of 3,000 and went to the local school of 4,000 students, on her first day became part of one of the most popular cliques in the school, and in her first week she’s giving her rejects to the other girls and her only problem is having to decide between bestiality and necrophilia.

Okay that was a bad example. But unless you can hit a cord with an audience that no one knew existed a novel should show the character’s depth, not just what the character wants and desires, but what they hate and fear as well.

I’ve been bogged down with a chapter in my latest book because I hit a spot where I needed to torture the female character mercilessly. She’s a Bipolar/Schizophrenic and she did the thing she fears most in the world, she took her mood stabilizers.

While writing that 5,000-word chapter I managed to do a 30,000-word revision on my other novel, write two short stories, and get a lot of work done around the house. Luckily I am now done with that chapter and my girl can go back to being her fun crazy self. It would have taken longer if I wasn’t forced into my office by 100-degree weather.

As I wrote it I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to torture her to show the conflict within her and the conflict that my hero has as he has to tolerate all her craziness.

I was wondering how other writers deal with making a character that they fall in love with and then have to torture them mercilessly. For me this was one of the hardest chapters I ever wrote.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: What I’ve learned from the Teabaggers

Teabaggers claim they have seen no evidence of Racism at their rallies.

The teabaggers are having a wonderful time educating people about things that go against the liberal bias of reality. For instance they let us know about threats that if you just paid attention to the real world you would never know about. Like these horrible threats.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, says, "This (health care) bill is the greatest threat to our freedom in the 19 years that I've been in Washington."

Nuclear proliferation? Not as big a threat as allowing children to remain on their parents insurance until they are 25.

Dependence on Foreign oil? Not as big a threat as not allowing insurance companies to set lifetime caps on coverage.

The Great Recession that devastated the middle class? Not as big a threat as not allowing insurance companies to deny payments based on unrelated pre-conditions.

Terrorism? Not as big a threat as allowing workers to keep their coverage after they leave their jobs.

If you look at the world through the liberal bias of reality you would think there were bigger threats to freedom but the teabaggers are ready to set you straight.

Other teabaggers think there are other threats as well:

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says "that (the gay) agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today."

The liberal bias of logic would tell you that allowing gays to serve in the military at a time when our forces are stretched to the breaking point would preserve freedom, but luckily Tom Coburn is impervious to the liberal bias of logic.

Ex-Republican congressman from Arizona and now full-time nothing Tom Tancredo says President Barack Obama is "the greatest threat to the U.S. ... the greatest threat to our liberty" today.

The liberal bias of math would have you believe that because Obama got an overwhelming majority of the votes he should be allowed to be President, but the teabaggers know that numbers have a liberal bias.

The teabaggers have changed the way politics is debated as well. Instead of using the liberally biased way of looking at a politician’s record to see how that politician might vote they have found a simpler way, play the Hitler 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon, if Kevin Bacon was Hitler. Here’s how it works:

Mother Theresa had a moustache, Hitler had a moustache, therefore Mother Theresa is Hitler.

Any facts in the matter are irrelevant.

They have also changed the way to leave messages in comment sections. Instead of reading the article and pointing out what they agree or disagree with they just look for the word “change” and leave a message in all caps, socialism. Example.

“I like how Dominos changed their crust from the cardboard tasting crust to the new garlic crust.”


Finally they have taken the rallying cry from someone they despise to use as a slogan.

When Chief Running Bull yelled, “I want my country back.” He literally wanted his country back.

When teabaggers say it they have no clue what they mean.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Organic Foods

I grew up on an Organic Food farm, so you might find it strange that it is the topic of my Shut-up Stupid Sunday post. But the people who go to chain supermarkets and buy foods based on the “Organic” label have been duped by the hype.

Reasons people buy “Organic” foods.

1) They think it is better for the environment.
Fresh off the farm this is true. True “Organic” uses about 20% less fossil fuels to produce. However if that “Organic” food needs to be shipped across the nation then that advantage is quickly lost and if it comes from another country then its using a lot more energy than regionally grown “traditionally farmed food”. If you want to help the environment look to see where your food comes from it’s more important than how it’s grown. The best way to get food that helps the environment is to shop at the local farmers market, there the word “Organic” actually means something. The second best is find out which grocery stores buy from local farms and shop there on the day they receive the produce from them.

2) They think they are helping small farmers.
Like I said before I grew up on an Organic farm, the large food distributors don’t buy food from small farmers. They have Organic Mega-Farms that are every bit as brutal as the traditional farms.

3) They are worried about the chemicals in their food supply.
This is a semi-legitimate concern. The less chemical exposure you get the better. However the traditional farming has been around for over 60 years and most of that time it was well regulated by USDA. The chemicals they use for fertilizer are designed for the plants to break down quickly, they wouldn’t be much good if they weren’t. As far as the herbicides and pesticides, unless there is a pest panic they don’t spray these just before harvest and they are all water-soluble so a quick washing will get rid of it. As far as anything that is left, the pollutants in the air from our industrialized society pose a greater threat.

4) True Organic tastes better.
This I totally agree with, if everything else is equal. You can taste the difference in fresh true Organic crops and fertilized crops on the day they are picked. The next day not so much, three days later not at all.
At a Farmers market getting Organic food will make for tastier meals, in the supermarket if that Organic food has to be shipped across the country all that flavor will be gone.

5) They think the label “Organic” means something.
It doesn’t, there are organizations that certify “Organic” foods but a farmer doesn’t need to have that certification to place an “Organic” label on it. “USDA Certified Organic” has some pretty lax standards to for food to get that label but just an “Organic” sticker means nothing, and “Organic” from another country means absolutely nothing.
The best way to get something that is actually organic is to go to the farmers market and ask the farmer. The other farmers at the market will get pretty pissed if a farmer is passing off traditionally grown food as organic. Of course this self-policing only works at the very local level of a farmers market.

Pretty much all the benefits of “Organic” food are destroyed if it needs to be shipped more than a few hundred miles. Instead of buying food that has the “Organic” label on it, try to buy food that was grown in your area. Here is a tip for finding the freshest (therefore grown closest to you) produce. Look at it and feel it. With produce all the marketing in the world can’t replace your senses.

So to the people that only look for the “Organic” label and nothing else, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, looking for the label and ignoring everything else about the product usually undermines the exact reason you’re trying to buy organic food.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts