Writing for Free

Inspired by wil wheaton’s blog post this morning. I’ve received a few emails asking why I charge for beta reading services. Because what I do has value.

I read your book, issue a short report on wins/fails, and provide helpful information. I’m not a family member, I won’t be staring strangely at you at the next family dinner, and I’m not your friend.

Recently, on a writer’s blog, they discussed how to use the monomyth in a fantasy novel. basically, they need to find the blessed/cursed object to save the day. Lord of the Rings anyone? I was horrified that literally, that’s what they wanted to do.

I can’t tell you how many ‘princesses’ are rescued in fantasy and scifi. Do better.

Here’s a few suggestions on how to change up the monomyth.

  • Make the princess/token be the bad guy.
  • The quest person is the princess/token.
  • Destroy the token on the first page.
  • Give the token to the hero/heroine on the first page.  What happens after that?
  • Have the wise wizard/sage steal the token or take credit for finding the token.
  • Instead of one token or three tokens, make it 50 tokens.
  • If you are going to use Orcs (something Tolkien made up fyi) make them the hero.
  • Have the quest seeker accidently destroy the token.
  • Have the quest seeker sell the token instead of removing the curse.
  • Maybe the quest is for naught, there is no token.
  • Have the curse be something that wouldn’t hurt anyone.  Like turning their hair red.  (Souls are removed curse.)

Bad ways:

  • No tension.
  • Talking heads.  Not enough character development.
  • Pixels has one of the best examples.  The princess is a prize in a video game and ends up having kids with one of the heros.  I don’t think she even has any dialogue. Boo.
  • They take ten years to get there, but seem to instantly get back to the home village in 10 minutes.
  • Inventing new things that aren’t mentioned anywhere else in the book.  Spells, lock picking kits, and other instant fixes are boooooo…
  • Changing moods.  One of my favorite shows atlantis put out by the BBC changed a funny light hearted show into a dark show in the second season.  Plus, they entirely dropped the storyline of how jason was looking for his father.  Or maybe they picked it up again, but they had already lost me as a viewer.
  • If a gun is mentioned on page one, someone needs to shoot it by the end of the book.  I didn’t come up with this idea, but it’s common sense.  You can sprinkle the big bads into the prologue, but don’t mention mountain ogres if there are no ogres in the book.


If someone is receiving email from this website, it is spam. Please make a comment on this post, please, if you get spam.

I’m trying to track it down, but some help would be appreciated. Like many small wordpress sites, this one is the target of robot.

There should be no email coming from this website domain.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Dog Quote Eisenhower

It’s one of those days.

Half the work does not seem to pan out. Ask a few questions and it evaporates. *sigh*

Another day another dollar

Tolkien Quote 2

Obvious problems can be so large that you can’t see they are in the same room as you. I feel like that is what is going on with the google analytics spam right now. There is so much spam that google can’t even see that their own analytics is riddled with spam visits.

The ‘visitors’ to a website are not actually being visited. They have decided to spam a file and reference your google analytics number. This is a well documented problem that has been swarming for months. Why are the spammers doing this? haz no idea. I wonder if this is an attempt to disrupt the US and the internet. It does nothing but mess with the website analytics.

Maybe it will turn out that this is a much bigger problem. It’s annoying though.

One of my other websites is being assaulted with wordpress comment spam. 10 or 20 comments in chinese letters. They are not even bothering to write in broken english anymore. Send out em out sarge, let’s get our clients posted on other people’s websites. No one will even notice our clever backlinks that are tots readable.

I’d contact the people who have paid spammers to raise their own links, but it makes me warm and fuzzy to know that they are paying money for no results.

It used to be that the spammers all came from weird places. Now I’ve noticed that the city might be in russia, but the country might be labeled as US. Yah?

And that’s for a small brochure website. How many do the actual biggies get?


banana, kumquat, dragon, hobbit, conquistador, florida, trump, president, not, a, chance, blinds, blinks, cute, flying, plane, wing walker, drill, hammer, construct, work, day, silly, rabbit.


Just had to post someplace where no one would read it.


Checking in!

I’ve been busy creating a new product, Lore Bits. It’s currently on Kickstarter in the game section. They are game tokens/counters. They are doing pretty well, except for on Kickstarter.

I’m also writing a new book on Inventory Management, product costing, and manufacturing for small business. Partly inspired by the Lore Bits, my manufacturing background, and how little information seems to be available for small business owners.

Check out the Lore Bits on www.paperbutterflyforge.com

New Store!

I’ve added an amazon store for writing books. Hopefully, you will all enjoy using it. If you click through the links a tiny sales percentage supports this website. This does not increase your prices at all. It merely supports a small business.


How to make a Successful Youtube Video

Well, there are the obvious things like video and sound quality.  Kickstarter peeps are even hiring videographers to film their funding pleas.  Would that money be better spent putting it into their products?  Who knows.

But what really makes a difference is snappy writing and editing.  A webcam and a microphone are entry level descents into yawning time without some judicious decisions.  If you were hiring a video crew and using professional video equipment, you wouldn’t waste time by making up the script on the spot, would you?

One of the worst videos that I’ve seen is a QuickBooks expert who made a 45 minute video of her being interviewed.  Thirty minutes of describing how wonderful she was.  Fifteen minutes of QuickBooks.  Put aside your ego.  Unless you are William Shatner; no one is that interested in you.

Solution:  Describe your professional or personal credentials in a few words.

The second worst video that I’ve seen had no subject.  They had recorded the QuickBooks session and had kinda wandered around the screen like a drunken tiger.  I know QuickBooks pretty well and even I couldn’t figure out what the topic was.

Solution:  Keep to one subject/topic.  Multiple videos are a great way to build a brand, don’t be afraid of that.

The third worst video was when the host talked over the expert that was invited to teach at the google hangout.  I had tuned in and I think the expert talked about 3 times.  It was an hour long hangout.  But I do know about the host’s new puppy.

Solution:  If you are going to interview someone; give them an opportunity to talk.  Structure your questions as if you were Oprah.  Ask the questions that your audience wants the answers too.

The fourth worst video that I’ve seen had no editing.  If something went bump, crash, or spilled it was on the video.  That might be the calling card of live streaming; but if you are doing a professional video you need to cut those out.

Solution: Film several takes of the same class.  Pick the best sections that work and then link them seamlessly together.  Remember that one of the most difficult things to film is a non edited shot of someone walking down a bustling city street.  Pick the best shot!

Writing Prompt

ToyRUs has pulled the Breaking Bad toys from store shelves.  Breaking Bad was about ethics, looking the other way, drugs, money and greed.  Even if you don’t think any of those things are bad, would you want your kids playing with a drug manufacturing kit?

Probably not!

So today’s writing prompt is to write an argument for something that you DO NOT believe in.  It’s a great exercise in logic and arguing.  Once you can figure out someone’s counterpoint to a debate, you can then structure your own stronger debate winning response.

Go ahead.  Make an argument for making drug manufacturing acceptable for children and should replace the traditional Easy Bake Ovens.



We watched The Mazerunner in a mostly empty theater on the third weekend that it was out.  A few points (spoilers).

  • Giant spiders have been done before.  Tolkien invented them.
  • Why was the Maze lush, but the surrounding area a desert?
  • Why didn’t the helicopter at the end, just drop into the maze and pick them up?
  • How is overcoming the maze going to help with creating a person who can defeat the illness?
  • If the maze needed to be constantly monitored, why was is still operating after all the operators are dead?

In short, there were some pretty bad plot holes in this movie.  I look forward the second movie where this makes a bit of sense.  If you take someone out their suspension of disbelief, it can be difficult to win them back.

One of the best examples of losing your suspension is one of the latest Dr. Who episodes, ‘Kill the Moon.’  (spoilers)

  • Dr Who seems to know the giant spiders (AGAIN) have a specific type of DNA.  How does he know the DNA type?  He just looks at them.
  • The moon is supposedly a giant egg that doubles in mass.  How does an egg double in mass.  I don’t think chicken eggs double in mass when they change into chicken things.
  • The egg hatches into something else and then leaves an egg behind.  How does an egg have the same exact size & shape egg inside itself?  (sounds like a philosophy question, but it’s basic physics.)
  • Apparently the new egg is in the same orbit, etc.  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Now, one where it’s done right is The Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

  • The GIANT SPIDERS are more fluid and alien and while technically giant starfish look more believable, scare the crap out of me, and holy crap no one could win against them.

And that’s how you do giant spiders.