Coming Out, and Some Administrivia

by Richard Skinner

Still getting this place organized… One thing I noticed yesterday, in between grilling, watching the neighbors trying to burn their houses down (they failed, we’ve had way too much rain for that lately), and generally trying to enjoy the two hundred and fortieth birthday of our nation – was that my real name was almost nowhere to be found on this here blog.

Urp. Yet another mistake to be corrected – right fricking now. Unless I want to be known as “That guy, you know, he writes the blog, what are his books again?”

Which issue reminded me of another little bit of “coming out” that I have had on the list for when I went public. My long-standing moniker for social media purposes.

Now, I’ve used the moniker “Reality Observer” for more than ten years now. I first established it when I was working for other people. When you work for (and with) other people, you do not want to have any association to be easily found between yourself and them; no blow back on your personal opinions should ever splash over onto them. Actually, in this fallen world of ours, you normally don’t want you to be associated with you – such can cripple any desire for a career. As far too many young people have painfully found out these days…

For an author, though, the situation is somewhat different. No matter what you do, if you become even moderately successful, someone will take the time to do some real digging. There are those out there that positively delight in such digging, and then “outing” the author to achieve their own fifteen seconds of internet fame.

So – those of you who know the frequent commenter called “Reality Observer” (or, in some cases where I typoed, “RealityObserver”) – yep, this is a full confession that that person is me, Richard Skinner, wannabe writer, aka “Writing Observer.” I’m going to keep that moniker, though, as there are many people that only know me by it, and creating confusion is not my objective here. Some of the more “general” media I am cutting down on, in any case, although I’ll still be active in the writing blogs and forums that I frequent. I really don’t have the time any longer – and, this being a Presidential election year, and one that has shaped up to be the nastiest one since Lincoln vs. Douglas – there are far too many monkeys on those forums, with far too large a supply of poo to fling around.

Now for an administrative note. Just before this post comes up, I will have finally enabled comments. As I explained, I wanted the blog to stabilize a bit before I did so (translation, get my most egregious mistakes fixed first). There is a minor change to the “House Rules” – so whether you have already read that page or not, please take a look now. The change actually is only to note that the first comment will have to be approved before you can have at me – that is a policy common to most bloggers, as it keeps the cleaning of spam to a minimum. Ah, the blog roll is also now up, in its first incarnation.

So far as I know right now, the next post should come out on schedule this Sunday – I’m collecting together my various notes and timelines about my adventures in producing a halfway (quarterway? less?) decent cover for the first Tales By The Road story.

Learning Curve – WordPress Settings

Quickie post. The links in the Tales By The Road post work perfectly. Just so long as the post is in draft or preview mode in WordPress…

Sigh. You will get a “500 – Service Unavailable Error” page when you click either the image or the text link. There is nothing wrong with either link – something is going on between WordPress and Amazon.

Workaround, while I dig further to figure out what is wrong, and how to fix it – go back up to your URL bar and hit Enter again. The same URL will then work just fine.

And – the links are fixed. A stupid newbie trick, I had not made the blog public…

Not so easy to figure out, though – not for the average writer starting out; I worked it out fairly quickly only thanks to my previous incarnation as a web developer. So, a bit of explanation here…

I looked at the HTML source for the WordPress page. As usual, that looks like so much gibberish, with a bit of English scattered here and there. I looked for the links to Amazon in that pile… Ah ha! WordPress was sending the real link through an “anonymizer” site. What those sites do is to make it impossible for a site that you have linked in your blog to do a reverse link into your blog. This makes sure that only people that you have directly given your blog link to can get to it.

There are many good reasons to have a private blog – but “professional writer” is not one of them, obviously… Amazon doesn’t like not knowing where it’s links are coming from, for very good reason.

OK, now I know what is going on. Easy fix. Really easy fix. Go to “My Site,” then to “Settings,” and scroll down to the “Privacy” section. Set it to “Public” and “SAVE SETTINGS.” As below…

WordPress Settings

Tales By The Road Released!

Richard Skinner

Yes! The very first Tales By The Road has been sent off to Amazon. It should appear there within the week – I see no reason why it should fail their Quality Assurance process. Unless I’ve made some horrible mistake that is all very clearly explained in some obscure corner of their publishing guidelines. Always possible, I’m a virgin at this…

Amazon rocks!. OK, other people have had some nightmare experiences with them, and I may very well have one in the future – but they “underpromised and overdelivered” in this case. Tales By The Road went live in the Kindle Store at just before two PM today (my time, Mountain Standard). Since I was expecting the twelve hours the publishing form told me – I’m a bit behind the curve here.

It is in KDP Select, so KU is the way to go, if you have it – I’m still figuring out how to at least get a promotional free period, you might wait a bit if you don’t have KU. This isn’t particularly to promote the story – my conservative bent says that $0.99 is still too much for buying such a short thing. (The plan is to collect all of them when I have a year’s worth – that I won’t have any problem with putting out there for $2.99 or so.)

EDIT – it will be free beginning tomorrow (July 4th) through this coming Friday (July 8th). Best that Amazon will let me do, dang it…

Anywho, here it is. The cover is a live link, or use this: Tales By The Road.

Roads, pathways, trails. We walk on them, or drive on them, just about every day of our lives. One day, I stopped dead on one, with a curious thought – what if this surface passing under my feet could talk? Curious notion, maybe I’ll think about it later. A writer, though, has a rather odd mind – this refused to go away; more and more Tales came creeping into my head. Sometimes one must succumb to the call of the Muse, if they are to get anything else done…

First in a series of these rather odd Tales. I hope that you enjoy…

Commitment, In One Tense or Another…

Writing.

I will be committing…

I am committed…

I have committed…

No, wait, that last is not quite correct. At this particular point in time, I have written – but I have not published. I could still drop the whole crazy notion, and crawl back under that dark, comforting blanket…

Not going to happen, buddy. Eleven months ago, you decided to “get serious” about this idea of having people pay for reading your words. Remember the “Oh, I can do that – doesn’t look all that hard.”

OK, right, it really should read “I have been committed.” But those are just the newbie jitters here.

In any case – as of the third day of July, in the Common Era Year of 2016, the very first bit of my writing shall be sent into the Amazon jungles, there to be eaten by a black caiman, drowned in the mud, or – perhaps – take the first steps on a long journey to the fabled El Dorado. For details, click over to “Sybly Whyte” on this here blog, where you will find out about this first piece – and why this dude “Sybly” has his name on it.

So it is time to start this bit of writing – the long-dithered-over blog about the adventures of a newbie writer. (You do know that “adventures” are bad things happening to other people in a far away place, yes?)

What will you find here, most days? Well, quite a bit on writing, hopefully – about mistakes made, lessons learned, successes achieved. Which you must remember to take with a large grain of salt. While I am not going to shade anything, the posts on writing will be about my route to writing, not yours (if you are at the same place or just a bit behind me right now), not anybody else’s path. What works for me may fail spectacularly for you – and at least some of the mistakes I make will not turn out to be mistakes for you. I will try to identify as best I can those things that are always needed for success, and those things that are always a sure way to fail – but I’m not going to be perfect there, either.

Some days, though, you will find an essay on something that you don’t think has anything to do with writing. However, the fact is that no person – not even a writer – exists in a vacuum. Things happen, whether to the writer, or to the world, and those things shape the writer and his or her writing. Unavoidable. So expect the occasional piece on science, on economics, on culture, on politics even.

Which brings up one very important thing – comments. Right now, as this blog is first published, comments are not enabled. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want comments; I want lots of comments (ones that are not snark, flames, and/or spam). But I want to make sure the blog is stabilized before I start letting others begin adding to it – I don’t want anyone lost in the weeds because I was busy fighting a fire off in WordPress land. The plan is to enable comments some time in this coming week, but I can’t guarantee it. In the meantime, please read the “House Rules” tab. I’ll be posting a notice here on the main page if and when those change – and I will be enforcing them.

While we’re talking about the “fiddly bits” – schedules. Again, I have a plan – a plan to post once a week, most likely on Sundays. Plus a special post whenever I have news – new publications, new contracts, new whatever has to do with the career. But those take a back seat to actually pursuing the career – and here is the first bit of “writing wisdom” that is universally true. If you want a career as a writer, you must write. You must publish your writing. You must get paid for your publications. No, not original with me – this has been the mantra of every writer since it became a profession – and some call it the second oldest profession there is. So if I am facing a publication deadline, that comes first – although I will try to remember to at least tell you why I am missing in action for a while.

Whee! This first draft of the first post is done! Tomorrow, I get to edit it, and then expose it on Sunday (with luck). Edit – the draft is edited. It is Sunday. WordPress willing, I am actually on schedule for the moment…

Yes, I should have been committed. Too late now.

Richard Skinner