Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I've Migrated My Blog to Wordpress

        All of my posts have been transferred to the new location.

Please click here to go to my Maine Larry Crane blog on Wordpress:


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Crikey! Acorn's calling for new plays again!

It happens every year.  Acorn Productions in Westbrook, Maine announces a call for new plays, and dozens of playwright hearts flutter. In April of 2013, the 12th Annual Playwrights Festival will showcase monologues, 2-minute plays, 10 minute plays, one-act plays and full length scripts. They are "looking for the best new plays by Maine-based playwrights."

There have been a couple of those years when I didn't think I had anything worthy of submitting, but I'm usually sending in at least one entry.  This year, my mind is occupied with following up the publication of my thriller A Bridge to Treachery with another novel, but I know that I won't be able to sit by and watch this deadline pass without submitting something.

This is one of the attractions of writing plays, the thrill of seeing your characters live onstage. In the case of short plays, the relatively short time frame from gestation to production can be irresistible. Writers who have worked on pieces that haven't come together satisfactorily for them yet, can start rummaging around in the drawer with a new incentive to try breathing life into them.  I'll be posting my own progress toward meeting the December deadline.                                               

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's not your father's Army...

...nor his country either. I've just returned from grandson Derek's Army Infantry "Turning Blue" and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) graduation exercises at Fort Benning, Georgia. It's been fifty years since I was last there doing a little training of my own, and I'm here to tell you that the place and the people are nothing like they were back in the day. Is there one enduring image that captures it all?  Sure.  How about several hundred moms, dads, siblings, and girlfriends around the perimeter cheering wildly as the newly minted Infantrymen galloped out of the barracks to 'form up' for the ceremony? The Army of today is definitely paying attention to the need to emphasize public relations in everything they do, as well they should.

Only four decades ago, such a scene would have been inconceivable.  We all know the reasons for that fact, or if we don't know, we should. Suffice it to say that Derek has now joined the 1% of his generation that has or ever will have any direct knowledge of military life, and he soon will also know something about service and sacrifice that the other 99% will never know.

On the way home from Georgia, I talked to another grandson, Henry, who is going to finish up at Amherst this December, and will probably be entering law school in September 2013. We talked about Derek's Infantry training and his ambitions relative to the Army.  Henry plays soccer at Amherst and is no stranger to strenuous exertion, so he shares an understanding of 'sucking it up' when your body's telling you to knock it off already. Henry and I talked about Derek's exposure to working side by side with contemporaries from all walks of life, about having to comply with anything his Drill Sergeant required of him whether it made any sense to him or not, and about the feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself.

Then Henry said: "I'm not going to be doing anything between December and September.  You don't suppose I could go to Basic, do you?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Participate in Amazon's Discussion Forums

I'm very pleased to welcome novelist and blogger Jeri Walker-Bickett to Learning Curve in my first ever Guest Post! 
Jeri's motto "Let's Learn Together" is an apt theme for her blog: Jeri WB What do I know? (http://jeriwb.com) as it never fails to engage and inform her readers and followers in a variety of interesting subject matter ranging from book reviews, art, author advice, video clip commentary on book adaptations, interviews, and notes on craft.

Jeri is working hard on her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, a ghost story set in the woods of northwest Montana. A July 4th prank leads to a series of shocking and regrettable events when a 13-year-old girl goes missing and her remains are never found. Nearly 30 years later, cousins spin campfire stories about a mountain man, Bigfoot, and the girl’s charm bracelet. Her restless spirit lingers. What does she want? Who’s to blame?

At the same time that Jeri's Guest Post is appearing here, Jeri's review of my thriller goes up on her blog.  Thank you, Jeri.


I would like to thank Larry Crane for the chance to write a guest post for his blog. I made his acquaintance after deciding to post a review of his novel A Bridge to Treachery on my blog. He proposed the topic of Amazon Discussion Forums as an area in need of helpful information. The time it took to research and write this post certainly enlightened me and I hope it will do the same for you as well. Let’s learn together! 

Numerous forums on Amazon buzz with customer discussion and feedback. Such activity presents a great way for authors to connect with potential readers and reviewers in their genre. However, access to the boards is not a straight-forward affair as Amazon’s main page does not contain a link to its forum (which lacks a homepage).  

How do I find Amazon’s discussion forums?
Chances are you’ve stumbled across forums while visiting product pages where related discussion appears at the bottom. Or perhaps you’ve commented directly on a product review. In reality, most consumers would prefer to browse topic lists to find interesting threads to participate.

The original discussion board can be found at http://bit.ly/Q6TFQL and it functions as the home page which Amazon’s current forum lacks. It provides a search box for all topics as well as a link to Amazon’s guidelines for discussion participation. The affiliated Facebook group “Amazon Reviewers” can be found here: http://on.fb.me/Rl7PZ5.

A Google search on “Amazon Discussion Forums” will bring up links to the most popular boards. The Kindle discussion boards are undoubtedly a solid starting place for authors and readers to connect: http://www.amazon.com/forum/kindle

How to search forums?
The default option listed on the side of the discussion screen is to search only within that forum, but the box can be unchecked to enable a search of all customer discussions. A few tips to get better search results:
·         Use double quotes around words to search for phrases: “fiction writers”
·         Place a plus sign (+) in front of words that MUST appear in your results: Top 100 Books +Steinbeck
·         Place a minus sign (-) in front of words that MUST NOT appear in your results: Top 100 Books -Free 

How to follow discussions?
Discussions can be tracked through email or RSS feed. Subscribing via email to an extremely active feed will result in an overflow of email to your inbox. A better way is to subscribe via the topic’s RSS Feed. If you are unfamiliar with using RSS Readers, I’ve written a post I wrote on the topic:  http://bit.ly/PCqJPz

Who can post?
While all visitors to Amazon can read posts in the discussion forums, only actual customers can make comments so long as their account is in good-standing.

What can and can’t be posted?
It should go without saying, but using Amazon’s discussion boards to try to sell your book or otherwise promote yourself in blatant ways goes against their guidelines. Take the opportunity to connect with others based on your common interests and expertise. 

Follow this link to their Customer Discussion Guidelineshttp://amzn.to/OP3lvu

Share the blog love and share this on your favorite social media websites!
This post is only the tip of the iceberg as far as participating in Amazon’s discussion boards is concerned.

As my knowledge grows, I might someday post a related series on my blog: JeriWB What do I know? (http://jeriwb.com).