Tag Archives: White Picket Prisons

Something Free for My Blogging Friends

You know how you write your blog because you like to be read? I’m the same way. We value our thoughts and believe that some of our thoughts have value to others, whether it’s educational, thought provoking, or merely entertainment. Some of you may have noticed but never clicked on those book covers there on the right. I wrote those and I’m pretty proud of them.

Stephen King was once a school teacher sending stories to magazines. E.L. James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame originally self-published Fifty Shades as an e-book. Hugh Howey, whom I interviewed here back in July was unknown just a couple years ago until his independently published stories caught fire by internet word of mouth. I’m not saying I’m as great as those three are, what I am saying is maybe my books have merit, but it’s hard to know unless people read them. There was a time in every authors life that they didn’t have an agent and a publisher. This is mine.

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I’m an “indie” author. If I chose to I could pursue some small publishing house that would take me on and I’d have the validation of having a publisher’s name inside the front cover. I’d have validation, but I’d also have someone telling me what my cover would look like. I’d have an editor telling me to develop a character more or to add another secondary story line to the plot. I’d have someone telling me how much to charge my readers for my books. Raise your hand, how many of you have ever bought a book because of the name of the publisher? I didn’t think so.

Ok, so here’s the FREE part. If you’re a fellow blogger I’ll give you a FREE Kindle, Nook, or Ipad copy of my book White Picket Prisons in exchange for an honest review posted on your blog. The story is a humorous murder mystery about a close knit group of friends. Click on the link if you want to read the full synopsis. It’s a relatively short, weekend beach read type of book. If you’re interested, in the comments leave your e-mail that is connected to Kindle, Nook or iPad account and which e-reader you have. Or if you want a little more privacy about your e-mail you can e-mail me directly at authorphiltaylor@gmail.com

Feel free to share or re-blog if you like. In fact please re-blog. I want you to make me give away so many that I’ll regret this. I’ll give away as many copies as are asked for. Have a great Sunday. ~Phil

Thank You from Me and The Sneaker Tree

My third book, The Sneaker Tree,  made it’s debut yesterday and I have a lot of great people to thank. First, I’d like to thank every single person that downloaded my book. Whether you be a friend who downloaded my book to be supportive or a stranger who took a chance on an indie author because the cover looked great or the book synopsis was interesting, thank you. My book isn’t on any top 100 list on Amazon and probably won’t make it to the New York Times best seller list, but when I woke up this morning The Sneaker Tree had made it up to #24,689. That may not sound all that impressive, but there are at least 2 million books in the Amazon.com store and, if only for a day, mine was in the top 5% of all of those. That feels pretty good. Thank you.

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Until I started publishing my own books I had no idea what an Editor did. From now on when you read a book and you see an editors name listed, in your head give them some credit as well. No matter how brilliant an authors story may be, it isn’t nearly what it can be until a skilled editor painstakingly goes through it and polishes off the rough edges, corrects grammar and punctuation, and suggests a little nip here and a tuck there. I’m lucky enough to have found Cynthia Shepp, who is very patient with my books and my almost daily e-mail questions.

A great book is nothing without a great cover. The image is what draws you in and is in your head while you’re reading. Look at my first novel, White Picket Prisons,  over there on the right. The cover is a snoozefest right? Not the artists fault. He rendered exactly what I described. If I had to do it over I’d put some blood on the fence posts and make the shadowy figure in the upper right window a little more obvious. But look at the cover of The Sneaker Tree! I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it. I can’t take credit however. The wonderfully talented Rene Folsom  (who is also an author) took my description and put it on steroids. A great cover is the best first impression that a book makes and for that I have Rene to thank.

I work hard at my blog, writing 3-4 times a week, but I’m not a website designer. The reason that The Sneaker Tree cover showed up with live links on the exact day the book was released is due to my wonderful friends Paul and Shelley of Webessentials.com . They help me change or fix things on this page at moments notice. To be honest, my website/blog here would look a whole lot better if I let them really have at it. For an author that wants people to be able to read my book easily, the fact that a live link is in my right sidebar exactly at the right time I need it is absolutely amazing. Thank you Paul and Shelley.

Lastly, I want to thank all my regular blog readers. I started The Phil Factor 8 1/2 years ago with no intention of writing books. After awhile I started to get some positive feedback from readers that made me believe that maybe I could write a little bit. If you’re just a casual blogger and blog reader, don’t underestimate the impact your “likes” and comments make. You too helped make The Sneaker Tree and helped make my day today. Thank you.

As always, if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor, thank you for sharing it on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else. Without your help us indie authors would be lost.

New Novel Release! The Sneaker Tree

Remember when you were a kid and you had that one magical summer that seemed to last a lifetime?

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Cooper, Gooby, Chuck, Cliff and Bolo don’t know it, but they are in the midst of a summer they will never forget. Their small town is paralyzed with fear as a serial killer preys upon children and The Golden Boys seem to be the only ones who have a chance to stop him. A life-long bond is forged between them as they confront each other, their worst fears and a killer that is more than anyone could possibly imagine.

From the first review that I swear I did not pay for: “This book had it all, great characters, humor and suspense. If you like Dean Koontz…characters you will like this book as well.” ~ Karen

If you read my first novel White Picket Prisons this is the perfect prequel. If you didn’t read White Picket Prisons don’t worry about it it! This is the prequel, so it happened before the other story. This is better to read first anyway. It was a fun write and I hope you find it to be a fun read. It’s not an 800 page long Stephen King kind of novel either. It’s the kind of book you can read in a weekend when you’re bundled up on the couch because it’s too cold to go out.

It’s now available for only $3.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in the iTunes bookstore as well as all the other online e-book retailers.

Yes, for my regular Phil Factor readers, I apologize that I didn’t do my usual Saturday post, but I promise I’ll get back to sarcasm as usual after today and I thank you for your wonderful support. As always, I love it when you do that social media thing that makes all this media social by sharing #ThePhilFactor on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you’d like.

Throwback Saturday? Christian Slater is My Darth Vader

I first posted this a little less than a year ago when my first novel White Picket Prisons came out. Since I posted a new post on Thursday, which is my usual “Throwback” day I thought I’d post a past Phil Factor for today. This one needed a follow up report that I’ve added at the end.

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In much the same way that Darth Vader dogged Luke Skywalker throughout the series of Star Wars movies, Christian Slater has dogged me—one-upping and thwarting me at every turn and stealing my success, all the while smiling smugly and skating away after a wry, sarcastic comment. Well, no more I say. Hear me now and hear me loud, Christian Michael Leonard Slater. Your bloody reign of terror is in its waning moments and I shall savor my victory. Or perhaps, much like Luke and Darth Vader, there will be reconciliation and you will join the side of the righteous and the good.

Our story began in the maternity ward of a New York City hospital in the late 1960s. As our parents stood side by side gazing lovingly at us in our bassinets, they discussed names. My parents proudly named me with a regal middle moniker from my maternal grandfather. As my parents proudly revealed my name, your parents, with a look of concern, or perhaps scorn, huddled and whispered hurriedly before turning and smiling smugly as they revealed that you would be called Christian Michael Leonard Slater, the boy with TWO middle names! Only hours out of the womb and you were already attempting to steal my infantile thunder. Curse you! You swaddled demon! I thought to myself as I shook my tiny fist in the direction of your bassinet.

Our school years were inexorably linked with the spelling bees, school plays, and, of course, who can forget the 1975 Cub Scout Troup 316 Pinewood Derby? Each and every time my dream of grasping that golden ring, that top stair on the podium, that starring role or just a moment of applause from my classmates, seemed so close until…until the golden boy, Christian, would swoop in at the last moment and spell the word, remember the line, or perhaps have a Pinewood Derby car that seemed just a little too fast to be only five ounces.

Then, of course, was high school where I was the shy, skinny, guy on the track team while you were the rebellious, edgy outsider that all the emo chicks were into. Grudgingly, I have to admit that I did listen to your pirate radio station, but I hated myself for doing it.

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As adults, now those petty childhood competitions are behind us. I thought I had moved on. But then, just when you had forgotten about me, you slipped. You left the door open a tiny crack and I plan to come barging through like the Kool-Aid pitcher on a hot summer day. I’m sure you were hoping I wouldn’t notice, but I did. It turns out, Christian, that I was one of the very few that noticed that you “starred” in a movie last year. Your movie Playback was only shown in a single theater for a single week. Playback grossed a whopping total of $264.00. Really? $264? Isn’t that pretty much just tickets and snacks for a family of four at the movies?

Dear Christian, it might interest you to know that in 2012, I, Philip One Middle Name Taylor, released a book, a humorous murder-mystery novel, White Picket Prisons. Much like the lion of the Serengeti, I am stalking you and your paltry $264 movie. I dare to dream that I could take down my mythical Darth Vader. That sad little movie will be your Deathstar and your downfall as my novel grosses more than $264. I’m not there yet, but I am confident, Christian, that with the support of my friends, I shall finally best you. Where are your friends, Christian? They were certainly not in that theater watching Playback. A few years from now, I also hope to savor the final irony as you come groveling and begging to play the role of Cooper in the Lifetime network movie based on White Picket Prisons.

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As a follow up, I am proud to say that after a year my White Picket Prisons has earned more than Christian’s sad little movie. If you haven’t read it yet, why not? As always, if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor please share it by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or anything else. Have a great Saturday!

Interview with the Editor: Cynthia Shepp

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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(I was going for Interview with the Vampire Editor” for the title, but the program won’t let me do cross outs in the title.)  When I published my first novel, White Picket Prisons, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. One of the things that I didn’t know was what an editor does for an author. I figured that the spelling and grammar check on my computer was an adequate editor and and, if I passed that testtest, my book was good to go. I then impulsively published a bad first edition. After some feedback from some very good friends friends, I decided to have my book edited by a professional and to re-issue it. I found Cynthia Shepp’s book review website, initially hoping for a review, but when I saw that she did editing editing, I asked for that instead. As a new author there was so much I didn’t know. and I’m grateful to Cynthia for taking the time and effort it required to revise my first edition into a much better second edition. She also taught me the importance of commas.  As you can see from the first paragraph, I asked her to edit this interview and I’ve left the edits in so you can see what an editor does.

TPF: Hi Cynthia and welcome to The Phil Factor. Just for fun, feel free to edit this interview as well, and I’ll leave you’re your edits in for people to see. How and why did you get into editing as a career? Also, what was your education to prepare you for being an editor? I’m really curiouscurious about that because apparently I got through seven years of college without knowing how to use commas until you edited my manuscript.

Cynthia: Hi Phil, thank you so much for having me. I feel privileged to be on the Phil Factor. I love your blog. I have loved to read ever since I was big enough to pick up a book. I used to think that I wanted to be a writer, but later on, I decided that I was better at editing. I love to take people’s stories and help make them the best that they can possibly be. Really though, it was just a dream that I didn’t think would ever happen because I live in a very small town in Alabama. There are no major publishing houses here and I always thought to be a successful editor, you had to live in a big city with resources.  Then came the independent publishing era and I realized that this was the time to make my dream come true. I could do everything I wanted to from the comfort of my living room, with a computer on my lap and my kids screaming in the background. I started on a fluke with a book review on Amazon and noticed that the author, Elle Casey, posted a Facebook link. From there, another author informed me that there was a huge market on Facebook and that authors would give me books FREE in exchange for reviews. That was all it took to convince me to start a Facebook page and blog. That same author, Jason Brant, decided to take a chance on me and gave me his manuscript to edit. Everything blew up from there. Now I have so many projects that I work non-stop all the time and I love it!

As for education, I am two classes away from a BA in English/Literature. I agree with you, though. I don’t feel that my education prepared me for editing. I have learned through extensive trial and error, working on my own time to teach myself the skills I need to be successful. It is an ongoing learning experience. I feel that I discover new things every day.

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TPF: What is the funniest mistake you’ve ever seen anyone make in a manuscript they submitted to you? Don’t use their name of course, unless it’s me.

Cynthia: Oh Phil, don’t make me call you out, honey. I actually can’t think of anything that was funny in a manuscript that I edited, but a mistake that you made does come to mind. When I received your manuscript, I almost fell out of my chair when I opened it. 😉 You had characters speaking in the same paragraphs and unannounced POV changes on every other page. It took extensive work before I even got to the meat of the story. For people that do not know, characters never speak in the same sentences. You must always put dialogue on a different line. Also, POV (point of view) changes should transition well, and be announced clearly, so that the reader does not get confused. Once that was ironed out, however, I realized that you had an extremely great book on your hands. 

TPF: I don’t mind being your example. Like I said, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. (Did you hear that everybody? She said “great book.” Now click that link to the right to get it on your e-reader right away) Cynthia, What is the most common mistake you see new authors make?

Cynthia:  I would have to say that it would be the mistakes that I mentioned above. Also, I would say tenses are another huge problem. You cannot start a story out in one tense and then start switching between them. In my opinion, past tense is the best to write in. Trying to write in first person, present tense usually does not work out well. It is jarring to the reader. Unless, of course, it is the Hunger Games.  I am one of many who believe she is a rare author who successfully wrote an amazing book in first person, present tense.

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TPF: There are different levels or types of editing. Could you give a brief explanation of those?

Cynthia: There are many different levels of editing and people actually give various names. There is everything from a content edit (which I do not do) to a simple re-edit. Content editing usually means that an editor will work with a writer from the very first draft. They will give their opinion on everything from plot to characters in an extensive role.

I am a final-draft editor. The services I offer are explained below.

Re-Edits*

Re-Edits are done on books that have already been edited that you are not happy with. I simply go through and edit them again, correctly. I don’t charge full price because I know that the authors have already paid someone to edit it once. This is ONLY for books that have previously been edited and that have already been published. Re-Edits only get ONE thorough read through. If you want a more comprehensive edit, please choose a Proofread or Detailed Copy Editing package.

Proofreading*

Proofreading is done on a final draft and includes line-by-line correction of spelling, grammar, and minor sentence structure issues.

Detailed Copy Editing*

Detailed Copy Editing is done on a final draft and includes detailed, line-by-line editing for sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and, if needed, other issues that do not require major changes, such as plot consistency, character analysis, and style.

Detailed Copy Editing and Proofread Package*

The Detailed Copy Editing and Proofread Package combine both services. This package has two different steps. First, Detailed Copy Editing will be done to a manuscript and sent back to the author. The author will then make all of the changes needed and re-write sections that have been suggested need work. Once the author has finished this stage and sent it back, a thorough Proofread will be done on the finished product. Please refer to the above explanations for each service to see what they entail. This is the most cost-effective package if you desire both a detailed copy edit as well as another edit after the changes have been made.

Blurb Editing and Critique*

Need help making your blurb great? Need a fresh pair of eyes to check for errors and readability? This is your option. This is a flat-rate service with a one-day turnaround.

 TPF: Do you have a favorite style or genre you enjoying reading and editing?

Cynthia: I love most books and genres. I do have reading preferences, as well as genres that I do not enjoy. I also go through stages. For the last year, I have been addicted to Dystopian and Apocalyptic novels. There is something about them that I cannot resist. I also love paranormal and modern Sci-Fi. I do not like dungeons and dragons type fantasy. I love just about anything else though. It depends on my mood. I like books that make me laugh, cry, groan, scare me, and even blush with embarrassment. It just has to be well written and keep me entertained.

TPF: With your background and experienceexperience, you would probably be a great writer. Have you ever thought about writing your own novels?

Cynthia: I used to think that I would be a New York Times Best Seller one day. I now laugh at myself for thinking that. I am not a writer. I am an editor and I am happy in that role. I have been such an avid reader, I would be worried that the ideas I ended up with would not be my own. I have had a few poems and newspaper articles published, and I write a mean term paper, but other than that, I lost the urge. Even the poetry that I write comes in fits and bursts. I will go for years without writing anything. I just do not have that burning NEED to write, so I do not think a book of my own is in my future. Although, I do think that the anthologies that I publish (with help from Rene Folsom, author) fill that need inside of me. It allows me to create a work of art and fill it with the creativity of others. I simply give a topic and they run with it. The upcoming anthology, STALKERS, has exceeded even my expectations. It will be one of our best anthologies yet.

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TPF: If there is one piece of advice you’d give to authors before they send their manuscripts to an editor, what would it be?

Cynthia: I love this question. My main advice would be to PLEASE make sure that your manuscript is double-spaced and in Times New Roman size 12 font. It makes it so much easier on the editor when it is formatted that way. It makes it clear, easy to read, and easy to edit. It makes my job less complicated and more enjoyable. I would also suggest beta readers before and after an edit. Betas are a great source for authors. They offer feedback that helps the author as well as the editor in first and second drafts. After editing, Betas also help find those pesky little mistakes that linger. No matter how good the editor, one person cannot find every mistake in an 80,000 to 100,000 word manuscript.

 TPF: Cynthia, thanks for stopping by #ThePhilFactor and thank you for helping us indie authors publish better books. In addition to editing, Cynthia offers book reviews as well. She has a partner, Cassie, who assists with reviews and is an admin on her Facebook page. Her website is a great source of book reviews from indie authors of all genres. Her Facebook is a great follow because she post links to free e-book downloads almost every day. As always, if you enjoy what you read here at #ThePhilFactor, please share on Facebook, Twitter Twitter, and anywhere else you can!

Throwback Thursdays! The Door 2/26/2006

I particularly like this post because it was what caused me to write my first novel White Picket Prisons. After someone read this they said, “Well? What’s behind the door?” So I decided to build a story around it. In 2006 I had an office in a 100 year old hospital that had been closed and would eventually be torn down. Doing a little exploring during my lunch hour one day I found it. The door was the old morgue door and it had the word Necropsy stenciled on it.

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Tucked away in a small recess, around a corner and behind a vending machine, is a door. By today’s standards it appears unusual. It is not exceptional in its shape or other dimensions, but it is distinctly different in a way that is difficult to define. The door is made of wood, as are many doors. The grain of the wood creates an intricate spiral pattern visible through the amber finish.

In the nearly abandoned institutional setting, however, the wooden door seems out of place when compared with the more modern steel and glass sections of the edifice that contains it. The brass, bulb-style handle appears to be far out of place, an ornament from another time. The broad, windowless door serves as the dead end of a short, dark alcove. There is no light to brighten this exaggerated cubby; no windows nearby and no glowing globe hanging from the ceiling. It is as if the architects intended it to be ignored.

The door is almost hidden in plain sight. Although the nearby vending machine must certainly attract regular traffic, the floor in front of the door appears to be thick with the gray dust that always seems to coat the hallways of buildings usually referred to as institutions. It has the smell you recognize from the time you secretly found your way into the boiler room of your elementary school all those years ago. It is a smell that tells you that you are alone in a place entered rarely and only by necessity. 

As always, if you like what you read at #ThePhilFactor please let me know by leaving a comment or hitting the Facebook, Twitter or other share button below. If you like this bit of writing and want to find out what is behind the door you could check out my novel White Picket Prisons now available in all the e-bookstores for only $2.99. It’s a fun, weekend beach read.

North by North West

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When Kim and Kanye Kardashian saddled their new child with the name North this week it gave me an idea. I’m going to become a lawyer and move to Hollywood. “But Phil, why would you quit your lucrative blogging career?” Thanks for asking, I’m going to tell you. I believe that being a lawyer in Hollywood will be a very financially sound career move in about 15 years. “But Phil, aren’t there already millions of sleazy lawyers in Hollywood? How would you be different?” My but you’re the curious one today. Alright, I’ll tell you. I’m not going to be just any sleazy Hollywood lawyer. I’m going to specialize in a certain type of lawsuits. I’m going to have a niche! I’m also going to stop starting all my sentences with I’m. “But Phil, what niche is this you speak of?” Damn you’re full of questions aren’t you? Well, because you’re my special friend, I’ll answer those questions, just for you.

Apple, Crumpet, Maddox, Coco, Diezel, Banjo, Satchel, Pilot, Sparrow, Willow, Tennessee, Blue Ivy, Ocean, and now North. What may initially look like a string of random foods,  inanimate objects, and directions is actually a list of celebrity baby names. This is just a short list too. Doing my research for this I actually had to stop myself because the list goes on and on. When these kids grow up, they are not going to be happy with their parents. I’m in my forties and I still haven’t forgiven my parents for my middle name of Francis. (Can you imagine how often I’ve heard someone say “Lighten up Francis“?) I can’t even imagine how mad these Hollywood kids are going to be.

So what’s a kid to do when they grow up wealthy, aimless, and stuck with a stupid name? Get a reality show? Maybe. More importantly, they can sue their parents! That’s where I’ll step in to fill the void. Phil Factor, Esquire to the rescue! As many of us know, if you have an unusual first, middle, or last name children can be cruel in their teasing. I will approach each of the aforementioned celebrity children and offer to help secure their financial future by seeking compensation for their lifelong pain and suffering. See? I already sound like a lawyer!

As always, if you enjoy what you read here at #ThePhilFactor please hit the Facebook or Twitter share buttons below. Also, if you like my writing in small bits you might even like more of it! My humorous murder mystery novel White Picket Prisons is now available in all e-bookstores and next Saturday my second book, Fifty Shades of Phil, a compilation of the 50 best posts from the last 8 years of The Phil Factor, will be available.  And by all means follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I am totally diggin’ on that social media action lately.