Amazon’s Embattled Reviews Make Another Change

Amazon reviews are slowly becoming a digital battleground of the future. Or petering out as one, depending on you ask. However, whether it’s using Amazon reviews to “review bomb” folks whose politics other folks disagree with, or paying a click-farm in China to generate thousands of fake reviews, Amazon’s review system seems almost destined to be at the constant forefront of unscrupulous folks thinking “How can I use this to my advantage/other’s disadvantage?”

With that sort of activity going on (and the almost Hipster-ish dislike for Amazon now that they’ve managed to stand head and shoulders above their rivals), it really shouldn’t have been surprising to me when a long-time fan of my works contacted me to let me know that they were no longer able to post Amazon reviews, and thus they wouldn’t be able to add their review of my latest to Amazon’s page for such.

The reason? Well, Amazon has a new review policy: To leave a review, you have to be a customer in good standing. You can’t have been spamming the site with reviews that are clearly fake, participated in review-bombing, stuff like that. But there’s another new requirement now.

In order to remain “in good standing” you have to be an Amazon customer, having spent at least $50 with them in the last year.

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Being a Better Writer: Serving an Idea

Welcome back readers! Sorry for the lateness of the post. There almost wasn’t one this week. Between a work shift today and a family wedding last week (not my own; I’d talk about that) the last few days have been extremely busy, and more than once I’ve been tempted to just skip a week and get caught up with Hunter/HuntedBut then I was talking with someone online this morning about the differences between a couple of different Sci-Fi books with regard to how they approached their stories, and, well, here we are!

So, those of you who are long-time readers of this site may find this post slightly familiar. To be fair, in near five years doing this, I’m frankly amazed that I’ve managed to keep from retreading topics as many times as I have. But even with that, there’s something to be said for coming back at a topic from a new angle and with a different approach or perspective. So read on. Either it’ll be new to you, or it’ll be a different approach that you hadn’t run across before.

So, what are we going to talk about today? Priority of ideas and concepts. More specifically, how you present those ideas, the core concepts of your story, in your story, and how that ends up affecting everything else. Or rather, if it helps, how important those ideas are to the story in its most basic form.

Confused? Don’t be. Or hopefully, you won’t be in a moment. But this does take some explaining.

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Shadow of an Empire Wallpapers!

Hey readers! Got a pretty awesome treat for you all today!

You’ve seen the cover for Shadow of an Empire, right? That awesome, western vista done by Michal Kváč. Well, those close followers of the site may remember how I teased that it was wallpaper-sized. And those who were Patreon Supporters? They got the wallpaper sizes.

Well, as of today, you can too. That’s right, in beautiful 4451×2560 Widescreen, you can have the full cover image of Shadow of an Empire for your desktop or digital device background, available in both textless and text versions.

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Being a Better Writer: Micro-Blast #6 -Breaking the Rules, Poetry, Figurative Language, Breaking the 4th Wall

Welcome back readers! It’s time for a Being a Better Writer Micro-blast!

What’s a Micro-blast, you may ask? Why I’ll tell you! A Micro-blast is what happens when I find I have a number of topics on my Topic List (either from readers or that I came up with on my own) that aren’t really worthy of a full post. They’re worth being talked about, but there’s no sense in dragging them out into a full-sized post.

But, rather than dump them or leave you with a bunch of short, concise paragraph posts talking about them individually, I’ve found it’s better to combine them into Micro-blast posts! Cover a couple of topics at once, get the brain stewing, and clear the current list of a few of the less in-depth topics. Ready? Go!

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Thoughts on Some News: Tor VS Libraries, and the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Relationship

Hey there, readers. I hope you’re having a good weekend! Mine is looking up. I’ve got some writing to do today (when do I not, right?), but before I dove into it, I really wanted to get a quick post up on some recent news items that have hit recently.

The first one is Tor’s (sorta stealthy) announcement that they will no longer be allowing Libraries to purchase ebook copies of their books following the first four months after release. You can read one of the first breaks about this happening here, but the gist of it is that Tor is no longer allowing libraries to purchase ebook copies of their lexicon for the first four month of a books release, their stated reasoning being that these library copies are cutting into Tor’s profits, and so they’re seeking to mitigate this. According to some, this it Tor ‘thinking about the authors’ and acting in their best interest.

Bull. This is Tor being, well, Tor. As some of you might know, I haven’t bought a Tor book in years. I actually boycotted them after the last book I purchased from them, an ebook titled Silentium, tried a different underhanded scheme, this one being cutting the last chapter of the book from the ebook copy and making it a “physical copy only bonus chapter.” If you wanted to read the end of the book, you had to either buy the hardcover or wait for the paperback!

This move? It’s that kind of thing again. Someone over at Tor seems to have a serious dislike of ebooks and those that read them, with this latest marketing tactic being their newest move to drive people away from them.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen the way they think it is.

But let’s step back for a moment. I mean, could Tor’s assertion have any real weight? Personally, I don’t really think so. It sounds more like an excuse to try and scrabble for cast than any sort of decision with real weight behind it.

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Being a Better Writer: Historical Fiction

Welcome back, readers! And sorry for the delay. Life … finds a way. That isn’t always to one’s benefit! This week is just looking crazy.

Which means it’s probably best if I dive right in, given my ticking clock today. So, historical fiction …

Okay, disclaimer. I give these every so often. I don’t write historical fiction. So I’m not the best authority on this subject. While I have written stuff that has taken place in other time periods, both future (Colony) and past (Shadow of an Empire), both of those also deviate quite a bit from what would be considered historical fiction because one’s the future, and the other isn’t Earth, but a fantasy world with magic thrown into the mix.

Which doesn’t mean you can’t throw a little magic into things with your historical fiction—it’s been done. What I’m saying is that my grasp of historical fiction is not as complete as someone who writes historical fiction full-time. I touch on it, they embrace it.

But … even with those who embrace it, there is plenty of historical fiction out there that is truly terrible. Just bad. And if you want to write historical fiction, you’re going to want to avoid stepping into those same mistakes, and into those same pitfalls. So, what are they? Well, let’s talk shop! Writing shop!

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Work Shift Today, Being a Better Writer Post Tomorrow

Pretty much the post title. Got a work shift today that’ll keep me from getting Being a Better Writer out on it’s usual day, so it’ll have to come out tomorrow.

Aside from that, there’s not much in the way of news. Shadow of an Empire and Colony both continue to sell pretty well and … Oh, hey, I do have something neat to share on that front.

I was in an online chat the other day where someone was asking for writing advice, dropped a bit, and someone else in the chat pointed out to the one asking for advice that mine was solid because I actually was an author. At which point the individual asking after writing advice asked what I’d written, and when I mentioned Colony, they were surprised, and quickly informed me (and the chat) that they had heard of it before, because their roommate was reading it and wouldn’t stop talking about it. Apparently they liked it, because they’d gotten this individual interested in it as well.

Nice.

Anyway, BaBW will be up tomorrow. Have a great day!