Pull up a log by the campfire and enjoy some original creations by Stuart J. Whitmore, including photos, fiction, software, technical solutions, video, and more.

Strange Names Are No Fantasy

I will readily admit that when I was a teen I mispronounced Moria (i.e., the mines of Moria, in The Lord of the Rings), as well as a number of other names in that highly acclaimed fantasy work. Fantasy authors are often derided for having unfamiliar names that readers can't pronounce, and new writers are admonished to avoid this "sin." However, unfamiliar names—and the ensuing mispronunciations—are not restricted to fantasy, or even to fictional works. I learned this rather uncomfortably when I was in the military.

As a young, no-stripe, E-1 in the US Air Force, my job was to make flight reservations for military personnel; once those reservations were made, I would type (on a typewriter) their "tickets" and hand them across a counter to the waiting customer, along with an explanation of the flight details and so forth. We often had a small crowd waiting, so I would have to call somebody forward to get their paperwork. Everybody outranked me at that point, which made mispronunciations even more awkward. I'm sorry, Master Sergeant Sepulveda, but there weren't any Sepulveda's where I grew up. I slaughtered names left and right for awhile.

Read on for how this relates to my current fantasy work-in-progress.

Mark This Down for Future Use

How about some practical content? Lately my blog post topics have often centered on my writing career, or my thoughts on things affecting other writers. However, among my most popular blog posts are those with practical information. No surprise, right? So that's what this blog post is about: Practical content for writers who are ready to step away from their bloated "word processing" software and use basic tools to focus on the story rather than the presentation. Yes, this means I'm harping about Markdown and text editors again, but this time I'm handing out more than advice. This time, you get tools you can use!

Are You Ready for Prime Day?

Amazon has made a big deal about their Prime Day on July 15. Are you ready? The answer is "no" if you're not a Prime member (but don't worry, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial and then you'll be ready). But once you're in that exclusive club, past the gate with hulking guards keeping out the riff-raff, and sipping your (virtual) cocktail while admiring the products lining the (virtual) shelves, what will you buy? Will it be a new TV, or a Fire TV Stick? Some books? Clothes? There are so many things that will be offered at a big discount. Unfortunately, that doesn't include my books. Read on to learn how my "relationship" with Amazon has changed.

A New Twist in the Amazon

If you pay attention to the indie writer scene, it would be hard to miss the community's reaction this week to an announcement from Amazon. In the past, Amazon compensated writers for the borrowing of their books according to how many books were borrowed, as long as a reader made it at least 10% of the way through the book.

This financial incentive encouraged writers to make books available for borrowing through Kindle Unlimited (KU, which is Amazon's Netflix-style subscription service for avid readers) and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL). This week, Amazon announced a radical revision to the compensation structure, where writers will be paid according to how many pages are read, regardless of percentage.

At first glance that might not sound like a big change, especially if you're looking at it only as a reader, but this is actually a fundamental revision: Nowhere else are books paid for by the page. This change takes effect on the first of July, just over two weeks after it was announced. Readers presumably won't see any difference, but writers with e-books exclusive to the Kindle, via KDP Select, will see a big change. There have been positive, neutral, negative, and wait-and-see responses from other writers. Read on for my analysis.

Crawling Along

I'm happy to have an abysmal word count. Yes, that might sound a bit odd or self-defeating, but really it's all a matter of context. If this was November and I was in the middle of NaNoWriMo I would be unhappy with my daily average word count over the past week. But this is May, and—in what has been a difficult year for me so far—I've been doing almost no writing at all lately. When I look back over the past week, though, I can see that I made progress every single day in a long-delayed fantasy work-in-progress. It might have been just a couple hundred words, or going back and fixing a large continuity error, but it's progress. Slow progress is better than no progress; so, without any sarcasm, I can say that I really am pleased by my recent work on that novel.

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