Reading for the Next Five Months

We have only five months to go in Japan, and I have to figure out what to read. I don’t think I’m going to change much about my reading order, actually. So, here is what I think I’m going to read:

  • The Iliad – Homer (about to finish)
  • The Dragon Reborn – Robert Jordan
  • Mercury – Ben Bova
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis
  • Redemption Ark – Alastair Reynolds
  • Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett

This is very optimistic, though Mercury and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are both fairly short, and may not take that long.

The eBooks I may read are:

  • The Book of Deacon – Joseph R. Lallo (will finish soon)
  • Keepers of Water – R. G. Porter
  • Young Lord of Khadora – Richard S. Tuttle
  • Blood and Steel – Martin Parece

I can’t tell how long any of these will take. It’s difficult to determine that, as I tend to read eBooks somewhat irregularly.

Any interesting titles?

Authors Answer 52 – A Big Thank You

This is it, number fifty-two. It has been a year since I began Authors Answer, and what better way to celebrate it than to say thank you. I have some special guests in addition to our regular contributors. I hope you enjoy reading what they have to say. I would like to thank the guest authors who agreed to participate. I love authors who take the time to respond to fans and interact with them. I would also like to thank the authors who responded to me, but could not participate due to busy schedules. And of course, thank you to all of our regular contributors for sticking with this for all these months. You’ve been wonderful!

fireworksQuestion 52 – What would you like to say to your fans and readers?

Janny Wurts

In gratitude and with great admiration, I bow to readers for ignoring the misguided notion that imagination and a sweet step outside of the limitations of day to day reality fall under the stigma of what some revile as a lazy escape. If no one, ever, embraced anything other than what they knew or were taught, if nobody stepped outside of their claustrophobic personal envelope,  we would all face stagnation, in fact. Reading is not an avoidance, but all about embracing the dreams and the nightmares of where we might yet come to tread.

But more than this, my particular thanks goes to you who ventured a step farther into the unknown: those who embarked on a starting series, ahead of the plodding noise of the crowd. You who laid your money on a new venture, not knowing where, or when, or even if, that story might wend its way through the publishing world to reach a last page in conclusion. You, who stayed open minded enough to not revisit the sins of every other dangling project — left hanging for whatever reason, including an author’s untimely death — to your outstanding credit, such enthusiastic daring and support make a significant contribution, not small, toward bringing such long-term creations to term for the rest to enjoy. Pause here and realize you are the real time adventurers who sustained the journey along the way.

Thanks, above and beyond, to those readers who explore the books on the fringes, and greet eccentricities with an open mind. Your personal choice, made alone, against peer pressure, opens the path to unbounded diversity. Special thanks to the readers who will return to a book that perhaps, on first try, disappointed them. Sometimes the timing, the topic, or the concept were not in synch with that moment’s personal needs or a particular stage of life where a story line mattered. Re-examining differences and embracing change against prejudice are the rarest of skills in a complex world that cries for understanding.

As readers we have the gift and the ability to step outside of our skins. That gift of experience, borrowed from others, holds the power to re-stage the forseeable future.

Brian Staveley

When I started writing The Emperor’s Blades, I had no idea how hard it was to write a big fantasy trilogy. In fact, fool that I was, I imagined writing a seven-volume series. It seemed straightforward to write a book, then another book, then another book until it was all done. By the time I got to the start of The Providence of Fire, however, I was feeling the heat. I had a cast of dozens of characters scattered across two continents, and the plot was only growing more complex. There were a lot of things that got me through the second and third books of the trilogy, but right up there near the top of the list were my readers. Almost every day I hear from someone, often many folks. Some people just want to say hi. Some have a question about a character or the world. Some write to point out a mistake I’ve made, about anatomy, or veterinary medicine, or whatever. These interactions kept me going through all the darkest times. Whenever I wanted to trash the whole damn file and move to Fiji, I’d remember that there are readers out there, thousands of them, tens of thousands, who are excited to see how this all ends, who are rooting for the characters, and so, by proxy, for me. And every time I remembered that, I’d get another cup of coffee, sit my ass back in the chair, and keep working. This is as good a time as any to say thanks, so there it is: thank you. Without all of you, I’d probably still be dithering with the first chapter of the second book.

Andrew Rowe

Earlier this year, I released my first novel, Forging Divinity. I’ve received tremendous support since my novel’s launch, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has been willing to take a shot at a first time novelist’s work. As a result of the success of my first novel, I’ve been able to work on a second, and my sequel – Stealing Sorcery – will be coming out early in January of next year.

For other would-be authors out there, my best advice is to keep writing about what you’re passionate about. I wrote five other novels before I finally published Forging Divinity – it can take a lot of work and dedication to finally make it to the publication stage, but the effort has been very worthwhile, at least for me.

Baye McNeil

Hi! This is Baye McNeil aka Loco in Yokohama, and I just wanna thank all the readers who’ve supported me over the years, through my blogging, publishing and now journalism efforts. You guys mean everything for what’s a writer without readers? In the very near future I’ll be coming out with a couple of books. One will be almost exclusively for my Japanese fan base that I’m hesitant to speak of just yet. Just know it’s gonna be awesome (god willing). And another for my English speaking readers, a coming of age book based out of NYC. Hope you guys dig it! Thank again.  よろしくおねがいします

Erica Dakin

A very big thank you to all my readers for the support and lovely reviews, and for the constructive criticism. When I first started writing I really didn’t think too much of what I produced, but it’s been a great boost to get positive feedback. My Theft and Sorcery trilogy is finished, but I hope some of you are excited to hear that I’m working on a collection of erotic short stories centring around the protagonists of my second book, The Conspiracy. Please come and say hello on my blog.

Amy Morris-Jones

Most importantly, I’d like to congratulate Jay Dee for his success with the Authors Answers series. I appreciated being included in the “authors”–especially since I’m a higher ed professional who’s just beginning to stick a toe into the waters of fiction writing. It’s been great to read the thoughts of participants in the series and the readers’ comments. Personally, I’d like to thank those who’ve put up with my ramblings as I try to find my way on this new journey. I’ve been publishing some short fiction this past year, and I’m fervently working on a revision of my most recent novel (the third I’ve written) in hopes of seeing how it fares in the world in 2016. For those interested in seeing how it all works out, I love to chat with people on Twitter (@amorrisjones) and have some randomness at https://amymorrisjones.wordpress.com/.

H. Anthe Davis

The only thing I have to say right now is Thank You.  For your interest, for your patience, and especially Thank You to my readers for your willingness to pick up a book by an unknown author and give it a serious go-through.  Internet communities have been my life since I was a kid, and the thought of building one of my own — based around my own work — is daunting, but everyone I’ve met so far in the process has been fabulous.  Every little bit of encouragement counts, so…thank you all for being here, even if you’re just passing by.

S. R. Carrillo

Write hard and clear about what hurts.

Paul B. Spence

Thanks for reading my books, really.

I’m currently working on a fourth Awakening novel and also another novel that isn’t set in that universe but isn’t unrelated. I’m hoping to have a couple of new free short stories to give away for the holidays, so keep watch on my blogs, Facebook, and Smashwords.

Caren Rich

Thanks to all of my readers and the readers of Authors Answer. Keep reading and spread the word about new writers that you like. Buy more books.

Elizabeth Rhodes

To my readers and fans (if you’re out there,) I want to say THANK YOU!  While I’d probably keep writing without you, you’ve all given me a reason to put myself out there and share my stories with the world.  It’s a scary thing we do, especially for reserved people like me.  But you make it a little bit easier.  Stay tuned, because there’s more to come.

Eric Wood

I still haven’t figured out exactly why I started blogging, but I do know why I continue. I would like to say thank you. Thank you for coming back again and again. I enjoy writing, but you make it easier to keep writing. You help me justify the time I spend at the keyboard. You make it easy for me to share my stories, my ideas and opinions. So please keep reading, keep commenting and share, share, share!

Allen Tiffany

Obviously a big “Thank You” to all those who bought my book, and especially those who wrote me and provided feedback or shared their own experiences in Vietnam. Given the reviews, it seems like buyers feel like they are getting their money’s worth, which also makes me happy.

As my first full-length novel nears its publication date, I hope to hear more from you all, and that it meets your expectations.

Jean Davis

I would like to thank all of the Author’s Answer readers for joining us each week. I hope you’ve learned some interesting or at least entertaining things here. I would also like to thank my readers for their support during this past year, which was full of stress and not much writing. Next year is looking much more promising on the creative front. However, this year is winding down on a good note. I’m happy to announce the release of my novel A Broken Race, and the publication of two of my short stories in the Brewed Awakenings II anthology, both out this month.

D. T. Nova

Thank you for reading my blog, and despite some delays my first novel is basically on track, though I can’t say when it will be published.

Gregory S. Close

A big THANK YOU to anyone and everyone who has taken a chance and tried out my work.  It’s very gratifying to know that someone has enjoyed the characters, worlds and stories that popped out of my muddled brain.  Sharing them is truly a profound joy for me.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

What can I say to my fans? How about a good old fashioned, “Thank you”? Thanks for the support! Thanks for following me on my blog and various social media outlets. Thanks for watching my YouTube videos. Thanks for talking to me in the form of comments and “Likes”. And a million thanks to everyone who has read my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide“.

For my next trick I’ll be releasing the first book in my young adult fantasy/adventure series, “The Other World“. There’s a bit of work to do yet, but I’m hoping to have it released early 2016, so keep your eyes open! Love you all! ^_^

Linda G. Hill

I appreciate anyone who reads anything I write. I’m constantly astounded that I’m able to keep anyone’s attention past the first few sentences – so if you wouldn’t mind reading my 700 page novel… Haha! Actually, it’s not published. Yet. I plan to try going the traditional route before I self-publish but either way, please keep an eye out for anything with my name on it but particularly a novel called The Great Dagmaru. It’s a paranormal romance with lots of twists and turns. Also, a very short humorous romantic novelette which will probably be released before that, titled All Good Things.

Jay Dee Archer

I must thank all of you great followers of my blog. You’ve been wonderful this past year, and Authors Answer has become a great success. And with that said, I’m happy to announce that it will continue for a second year!

I’d also like to thank of you future readers of mine who will read my books. It’s a difficult time for me at the moment to concentrate on writing, but after my family moves to Canada next March, I’ll have a far better chance to focus on my writing. So, you can expect to see a lot of Journey to Ariadne available on my official blog next year. I may be able to finish it, too. I will also begin working on my first novel, which has the provisional title Knights of Ariadne, as well as a novella or novelette series about a dying man’s wish to see the planets. Next year should be exciting, so I hope you keep coming back and will enjoy my books! Thank you to everyone.

How about you?

Do you have anyone to thank for their support in your writing? Anyone have any announcements about books they want to make? This would be a great opportunity for you to do that. The comments are yours! Thank you.

My Roadmap to Learning Languages

Having started studying various languages at Duolingo, I have to make sure I don’t get myself in over my head. I need to pace myself and limit the number of languages I learn at one time. Duolingo isn’t the only thing I’m going to use, of course, but it’s one of the best ways to learn core vocabulary and grammar for free and efficiently. What it doesn’t help with is speaking and listening. Those can be learned in other ways.

At the moment, I’m working on French, Spanish, and German, and I’ve taken a look at Irish. French is what I’m focusing on, as it’s mostly a refresher. Since it isn’t new material to me, I’m tackling another Romance language at the same time, Spanish. I’ve heard Spanish is easier than French to learn. And then there’s German, which is my third main language to learn, but I’m not working on it as much as the others.

So, for now, I will concentrate on French and Spanish. As I finish the language tree for French, I will then change my focus to Spanish and German. Spanish should finish soon after French, so I’ll then switch to German and Irish. But what do I do next?

I’m thinking that after German, I may work on either Italian or Norwegian. However, there is another language that’s starting up in the next few days, Russian. It’ll be released into Beta soon, and I’m intrigued by it.

So, why would I learn Russian? My grandfather was born in Russia, and some members of my family are trying to trace his roots and find as much information about his ancestry as possible. If I learn Russian, it may be useful if I ever try to communicate with anyone in Russia or even visit my grandfather’s hometown to do a little searching on my own. I’ve heard Russian is a difficult language, and it’ll be my first Slavic language to study. Up until that point, I will have worked on mainly Germanic, Romance, and Celtic languages, as well as Japanese. A Slavic language means learning a new alphabet. That should be interesting.

There is one other thing I may work on while I’m doing the other languages, and that’s Esperanto. While it’s not a widespread language that has a home country, it has been found that if you study Esperanto, it can be easier to study other European languages. I think I’ll give it a shot.

In the long-term, there are other languages I’ll work on, including Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Dutch. Those are all available on Duolingo now. In the future, I’d love to try Greek, Welsh, Polish, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Finnish, and Mandarin Chinese.

Too ambitious? What do you think? Do you have any language ambitions?

Who Has the WordPress Dashboard?

After looking at my sister’s WordPress account, and having heard from a couple other people, I’m a bit curious about this. Take a look at this picture.

wordpressadminIf you have WordPress, go My Sites and look at the left column. Do you have the WP Admin link? That’s where the red arrow is. This link leads to the Dashboard for your blog. It’s completely missing from my sister’s account and from some others I’ve heard from. I have it, though. In fact, I always use it. I never use any of the options below in this column shown in the image. There are so many menu options missing. Honestly, I don’t think I can fully utilise my blog without the Dashboard.

So, if you don’t have that link, here’s how to get to your Dashboard: type in your blog’s URL and add wp-admin/ after it. So, for example, it could be https: //yourblogurl.wordpress.com/wp-admin/

Give it a try, and let me know if it works. And just so you know, that’s where you can access the old editor, which is far more useful than the new one, if you ask me. Can’t stand the Beep Beep Boop editor.

When My Daughter Graduates High School

The year is 2030. My daughter is graduating. She’s eighteen years old.

I’ll be 53 years old.

NASA has already had a manned mission to capture a near-Earth asteroid.

NASA is preparing to go to Mars.

A probe has been sent to Europa. What will we know then?

A probe may be studying Titan. That’s under study now.

New Horizons will have left the Solar System.

India will become the most populous country in the world.

Saudi Arabia will run out of oil.

What else will happen? Hopefully it’ll be a better world. What do you think will happen in 2030?

My Take on This Whole Blogging Thing

I write this blog for many reasons. I’m sure everyone has their reasons, and not everyone is the same. But I think most people would like to have other people read their blogs and interact with them. How can we attract readers? Here are some ideas I have and what I’ve done.

Focus

Your blog should have a focus. Try not to be too broad in terms of topics. People looking for a certain topic will be more likely to stay and read more of your posts if you stay on topic.

What I’m doing is focusing on writing, books, and anything related to the genres I read and write in. I focus on science fiction and fantasy, so I will often post about writing in those genres, book reviews, worldbuilding, and so on. I write about science, as well. But this relates to science fiction and using science to make it more believable. I will also be writing a lot on geography, which goes hand-in-hand with worldbuilding. I want to understand the world I’ve created, so I’ll study our world and make mine more realistic. Consider it a big research project.

Reply to Comments

If you want to have people return to your blog regularly, make sure that you reply to their comments. They’ll see that you care about what they have to say, and they’ll want to engage with you on your blog more often.

I do this. I reply to every comment that I can. I’ve built a good group of regular commenters, and I thank them every month with Commentition. This month, I’ve had a slow month. My views are down, the comments are down. I’ve been slow at replying. I think there is a direct correlation. However, consider the fact that my sister was here for half of the month, and I was writing mostly shorter posts and haven’t had much time to reply regularly. My sister has gone back home, so things should return to normal now.

Post at Regular Times

It’s best to understand when your readers are online. Consider where they live, and what times they’ll most likely be online. Post at those times if possible. If not, then set your blog to post at those times for you. Use the scheduling feature. Your posts will be more visible, and they’ll come.

Most of my readers are in North America, so I tend to post around the evening and morning. Interestingly, the most popular time on my blog is in the morning, so I try post at those times. This post will be visible to everyone in the evening, though. But that’s fine, because that’s also a busy time.

Reply to Comments Part 2

Reply to your comments after you post. That way, those who come to read your comment will check and see if you’ve posted anything else.

Exactly what I try to do. In fact, after I post this, I’ll be replying to comments!

Comment Elsewhere

Don’t just comment on your blog, comment on other blogs. Comment on blogs that are popular. You’ll get greater exposure that way. And if the owner of that blog happens to like what you say, they will probably visit your blog, and who knows, maybe they’ll reblog something you post.

I try doing this, but it seems that I often don’t have time. I need to work on this myself.

So, does all of this work for me? It has worked quite well. That is, it works well when I stick with it. I don’t always do a good job at taking my own advice. Looking at my blog stats, I notice that this month is likely to be my worst month this year. But that’s because of my sister’s visit. Two years ago, I crossed the 1,000 view per month barrier. Why? Perhaps because of a post a day challenge I set for myself. I then decided to continue doing a post a day for 2014, and my numbers kept going up, eventually passing 2,000 views per month. Then for this year, I increased that to two posts a day, and I topped 3,000 views in January. I’ve repeated that a few times this year, and not one month has been below 2,000 views. I must be doing something right.

But there’s a problem. This year, I’ve stagnated. The views haven’t increased.  The comments have, though. I have far greater interaction on this blog than I ever have, which is wonderful. I’d like to get more readers, though. So what’s wrong? I think this goes back to commenting on other blogs. I’m not attracting those other bloggers. I don’t comment elsewhere regularly enough. This is something I must focus on, and it will be my big focus over the next few months.

Other things that definitely help are the following:

  • Use social media to plug your posts.
  • Provide a link to your blog in your signature on discussion forums.
  • Tag your posts with appropriate tags, but keep it under thirteen.
  • Invite comments on your posts by asking questions.
  • Do a weekly series that keeps readers coming back, and post them every week on the same day.
  • Provide links to websites you reference. This can help your search rankings.
  • Link to blogs, don’t reblog. If you like another person’s blog post, say something meaningful in a blog post about it, and link to the post. People often don’t like reading reblogs very much.
  • Use pictures in your posts. They’ll be more visible in your blog reader, as well as social media.
  • And finally, be yourself. I think if the post sounds more personable, then people will like it more and want to interact.

So, my question to you is this: What else would you recommend to help increase readership and interaction? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. And please share this post. Let’s get some great advice.

Changing How I Read

It’s been a frustrating year for reading for me. I’ve only completed seven books this year, which is far behind what I did in the last two years. I feel like I haven’t been reading as much, yet I read at the same time and frequency as I did before. So why am I getting less read?

It could be because of the rather large books I’ve read this year. But my page count is also far behind. I can’t seem to figure out why it’s taking me so long to read each book this year.

Looking back before I was married, I read quite often in bed, on the train, during my breaks at work, but I read fewer books, as well. I’d go weeks without reading at times, too.  But this year, I’m not taking breaks, other than the last two weeks.

So, I’m going to try to change how I read. In addition to my commute and breaks, I’m going to read for a while every night before I go to bed. Maybe I can actually finish a few books by the end of this year. One thing is for sure, my reading schedule may be completely thrown out. One of the upcoming books I’ve been planning to read is now in Canada.

Very Complex Fusion Reactor Finally Ready

The Wendelstein 7-X is a fusion reactor that took nineteen years to build. A supercomputer was used to design it, so that it would provide the best possible magnetic field to provide a sustainable reaction. Take a look at the video about this Stellarator reactor.

It’s different than the tokamak reactor, which is the standard design, and is said to avoid problems related to high current which is required to operate the tokamak reactor.

There are two major problems with fusion reactors at the moment. One is the inability to maintain a reaction for a significant period of time. The other is the inability to have a reaction that produces more energy than is required to start and maintain it. Efficiency is terrible. But it’s improving. If these two obstacles can be overcome, then nuclear fusion is the best choice for energy and electricity production.

Don’t let the word “nuclear” fool you into thinking this will produce a lot of dangerous radiation or radioactive byproducts. In fact, the fuel is hydrogen, and what results is helium and energy. There can be no runaway meltdown. Once the source of energy is removed, the reaction stops. The byproduct is an inert gas that will have no effect in the atmosphere.

Fusion is the future of energy, and it couldn’t come any sooner. We need it as soon as possible.