Authors Marketing 2021

Advertising Budget and Books Sold

Here, I am going to give an ensemble of responses to the questions
1) how much, percentage wise of income, do you spend on advertising?
2) How many books, ballpark, do you sell a month ?
3) How many kindle page reads?

2% … not making enough
5-10%
10% … 5-700
10% … sell 5-10
10-40% … 30 books
13-15%
15%
15-30% … 3000 sales … 29 mil pages read

25% … 200 copies
25-30% …1000
30% … 400 books … 800,000 page reads
30% … 3000ish sales … Million+ page reads.
35% …
25%-50% … 4,000 – 5,000 book
30% … 2000 sales … 3million page reads
40% … 2000-3000 sales … 5-10million page reads

45% … 250 copies … 200k page reads
50%
50% … 300 copies

60% … 1800 sales … 2.4 million KENP
80% … 50-60 book

There are a lot of loose ends to these numbers.  Some respondents had a deep catalog to advertise, and thus more material to sell.  Of note, however, is that budgeting your advertising expenses at roughly 30-50% appears to be a realistic figure.  What remains is how much you want to earn in the same period.

SOFAR Channel

The speed of sound in the ocean varies with depth, but with a twist.  And in that twist the United States Navy held a three decade technical lead in submarine detection.

The scenario, below, presents a case where a submarine is emitting a sound.  It is immersed in a liquid that is layered with denser water above and below a region known as the SOFAR Channel.  The submarine is in the top, dense layer.  Within the graphic, the SOFAR Channel is the light blue layer with the converging strong lines of sound from the submarine.  Note the shape of the lines are not straight lines.  They bend due to the variation in water density like a lens.  Within this channel, sound will propagate with far less attenuation (fading), and travel many hundreds of miles to remote detectors.

There are a number of dashed rays of sound that encounter loss in reflection from the bottom, or are situated along a path that does not lead into the interior of the SOFAR Channel.

For those who want actual numbers, the speed of sound varies in the following manner:

Novel Preview In Kindle Reader Technical Requirements

If you wish to be a reviewer of an unpublished novel of mine, there are several technical requirements you must meet to view my novel in a Kindle reader.  For correspondence, use publisher at this domain.

  1. You must send me your Kindle email address:
    To find your Send-to-Kindle e-mail address, visit the Manage your Devices page at Manage Your Kindle.
  2. You must put my email address in your Kindle account white-list:
    I can only send to your Kindle devices or apps from e-mail accounts that you added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List. To add my e-mail account, visit the Personal Document Settings page at Manage Your Kindle.

 

10th Step On The Character’s Ladder

I’ve been researching “compunction” for characters in my work while working on “The Striker” an installment of “X-Division Assignments” an espionage action story set in late 60s San Francisco.
 
It also bears upon many published news stories for the past two years.
 
The following comes from my last outline step:
 
10. Character tested for veracity of compunction
 
10.1. and Character reveals a wide ranging emotional display
10.1.1. including positive emotions, such as happiness and surprise
10.1.1.1. with leakage of genuine feelings from incomplete deception (feel embarrassed, feel genuine happiness, and let a smile slip)
10.1.1.1.1. as in false remorse
 
10.1.2. with deceptive or falsified emotions overcompensated in their emotional performance
10.1.2.1. as in false remorse
 
10.1.3. with a large number of speech hesitations that cued deceptive apology
10.1.3.1. as in false remorse
 
10.2. and reveals narrow range of emotional display
10.2.1. for remorse (showing sorrow)
include a detailed account of the offense
10.2.1.1. responsibility (showing connection)
acknowledgment of the hurt or damage done
10.2.1.1.1. reparation (showing care)
restitution, compensation or token gesture in line with the damage that one has caused
10.2.1.1.1.1. resolution (showing closure)
expression of a credible commitment to change

“The Chrysanthemums,” by John Steinbeck

Descriptive Paragraph:

The high, grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world.  On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot.  On the broad, level land floor the gang plows bit deep and left the black earth shining like metal where the shares bad cut.  On the foothill ranches across the Salinas River, the yellow stubble fields seemed to be bathed in pale cold sunshine, but there was no sunshine in the valley now in December.  The thick willow scrub along the river flamed with sharp and positive yellow leaves.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) This introductory paragraph takes you to the Salinas Valley—in California, if you know your Steinbeck, the time is winter, specifically December.  You may decide that this description is gray and dull.  Still, note the yellow stubble as well as the willow scrub with yellow leaves.  In spite of the gray environment, something flames up, perhaps within the protagonist, who enters the story in the fourth paragraph.

Authors Marketing 2021

Meetup.com Designs to Attract Writers

As the title suggests, I focused  my efforts on writers, and I went several steps further in refining that field.  My specialty is as a Consulting Editor for Action writers suffering from Writer’s Block.  I will help transform their blocks into a genuine release of successful writing.

I crafted my language to always call this Action Writer’s Block as in one Meetup named: Lift The Siege On Your Action Writer’s Block; and another named: Discover the “Gold” Villain In Your Action Writer’s Block.  As the meetup Lift The Siege On Your Action Writer’s Block has 20 members after two weeks, it has sent me two visitors once, and one short visit from another (2.5 vists per 20 members) in two Meetups out of four scheduled weekly events.

Again, typical.

Of particular note, however in light of these sparse returns, is that as I was polishing up my new Meetup named: Discover the “Gold” Villain In Your Action Writer’s Block I was gaining new members faster than I could edit the page.

Learning: early joiners are there; and this is the magic of Meetup.  I just have to make it work magic for me.

Next: Time to get radical—another blood bath of members and Meetup pages.

The Tenth Rung of the Character’s Growth Ladder

10. Reconciliation
9.   Separation
8.   Denial
7.   Disruption
6.   The reversible step into the Danger zone
5.   The first irreversible step into the Risk zone
4.   The opportunity

3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

What does first irretrievable step mean for other characters—if they were to have their own ladders?

In terms of the protagonist, there are several interpretations.  Here is one.

In the standard mystery, where the protagonist is a detective, then this rung of the ladder would represent that action taken that exposes the protagonist’s examination of the events to the antagonist.  Here, the canon of mystery writing presents a very schematic approach to the application of the fifth rung to this other character, but this application hardly fits all writing genres.  For them, I consider:

In terms of minor characters (being neither the protagonist nor the antagonist), I will generalize how this rung is employed.

The fifth rung is about the possibility of others discovering the intentions of the character.  Abstractly, it could mean an action taken by the character that has a strong connection that can be traced back to the character.  In a family-drama, it could be the filing of divorce papers by a spouse.  This presumes that the motivation for divorce was hidden (and it may well remain that way).  It follows that having done this, the next rung is divorce.

What’s Being Listened For

This chart presents the electrical signal from the underwater SOSUS array.

It is listening to ship traffic (and presumably with more interest in submarines).  The scale across the bottom reveals a span of 8 or minutes of recording in hardcopy, colored format (in the old days, it was all black and white).  Above the minute marks the scale at the left reveals the frequency of detection, within the field of color, the brighter the color, the louder the source.

As such, the span from very low frequencies up to 50 Hz (a power line kind of hum) has a bright patch across all time with very white (thus very loud) source noise from propellers that scar the field with horizontal lines showing at 30 Hz and 40 Hz (and other frequencies).

The picture below is more representational of the LOFARgrams observed during the 50s, 60s, 70s ….  The aspect is as viewed on the Vernier (chart recorder) with the paper being advanced up as new data was burnt (no ink, the paper is thermally sensitive) into a line at the bottom.  In this case, louder is equal to darker (more burning).  With many Verniers running plots along bearing angles, there was a lot of burning going on, continuously.

Not labeled are the propeller shaft noise profiles.  The shaft’s fundamental frequency is at the far left, about an eighth of an inch from the edge.  Its first harmonic is an eighth of an inch to its right (and many more barely visible harmonics across the page).

As of this time, the picture is incorrectly labeling the propeller blade fundamental as an harmonic.  Given its harmonics fall within groups of four shaft harmonics, it would seem to me that there were four blades on the shaft.

“The Jet-Propelled Couch,” one of five psychoanalytic case-histories recorded by Robert Lindner, M.D., in his book, The Fifty-Minute Hour.

Opening Paragraph:
 
This case-history, the last in the book, has become a small classic in its field. The chair behind the couch is not the stationary object it seems. I have traveled all over the world on it, and back and forth in time. Without moving from my seat, I have met important personages and witnessed great events. But it remained for Kirk Allen to take me out of this world when he transformed the couch in my consulting room into a space ship that roved the galaxies.
 
(My Mentor Howard Pease continues) Our protagonist is Kirk Allen, and his case-history is being told from his doctor’s viewpoint. The “I” person is the observer who looks at and interprets the main character’s words and actions. This gives room for plenty of dialogue, always popular with readers. It is the method used in the interview type of article. Few writers, however—even professionals—give us so engaging a first paragraph as this one by Dr. Lindner.

The Murderer’s Equation: The Energy Equation of The Murderer’s Ladder

10. The necessity for eliminating the little overlooked clues and loose threads
9.   The false suspect
8.   The cover up
7.   The flight
6.   The actual killing
5.   The first irretrievable step
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

The topic line is sure to provoke head scratching—it is drawn from engineering where energy is conserved or lost to entropy.  Allow that the word entropy is not one that either an engineer, writer, or reader aspires to, so all groups would be better served if they understood the dynamics of the energy flow going up the ladder.

Motivation is the well from which the murderer’s principle energy is drawn.  In all worlds, engineering and art, motivation is about energy’s source and energy’s intended use.  Energy is transferred, but its waste through neglect in the writer’s or the engineer’s craft is rarely acceptable.

What is the energy equation?

total energy = energy taken – energy used – energy lost = 0

where both the engineer and the author seek to achieve:

energy taken = energy used

energy lost = 0

How does this translate into the murderer’s ladder—rung-by-rung?

What is the murderer’s equation?

murderer’s energy = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 = 0

As can be seen, the well of energy is deepened by rungs 2, 3, and 4; but they account for little of the total energy available to the murderer which is found at the first rung of motivation.  Temptation (rung 2) and opportunity (rung 4) are driven by chance.  The energy from these rungs are sparks compared to rung 1’s flame of motivation.  Planning (rung 3) solidifies motive, and is a greater energy contributor than rungs 2 and 4, but it is still a small amount as plans do not have the same passionate energy as does motivation.

So, what happens when we look at this part of the equation:

– 5 … – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10

Each of these rungs on the ladder drain energy that could have been spent at rung 6, the murder, where the natural source of energy is intended to being consumed.  Rung 5 is the murderer’s energy expended because the murderer did not simply thrust the knife on the first opportunity (skipping over opportunity, rung 5, and plunging on).  Rung 5 drains the energy available to perform the murder.  In all regards this amount is negligible, but can be monumental in a hesitant (under-motivated) murderer.  This hesitation, of course, could make its own story.

For some motivations, the revenge story for instance, there should be no energy available for rungs 7, 8, 9, and 10—as passions would dominate all action, and passion would be completely drained at the ultimate act at rung 6.  The passion of revenge needs no escape, no containment of evidence, no false suspect.  Thus, the revenge story would have only 5 rungs, not 10.  This would be our equation, then:

murder’s energy = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 … – 6 = 0

However, if this is more than a story, such as a revenge epic, then an epic is larger than a single act of murder.    An epic spans time or place and consists of many actions with many sources of motivation.  This would be the story of a serial murderer.  A simple serial revenge (Hatfields vs. McCoys) might look like:

murder’s energy = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 – 5 – 6

+ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 – 5 – 6

+ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 = 0

where three murders are performed after three visits to the well of motivation—and presuming surplus energy was drawn to contend with the authorities after this string of murders.  Consider that the murderer is going to the well absolutely exhausted the second and third time.

As a twist, consider the psycho’s serial murder equation:

murder’s energy = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 – 5 + 6

+ 3 + 4 – 5 + 6

+ 3 + 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 = 0

where the psycho’s motivation comes from murders which build a surplus of energy used in subsequent murders.  The psycho’s energy does not flag because the act of murder is their second source for energy.  However, all serializations come to an end.

This structure also suggests how complex plots can be energized, and that through successive murders, the psycho might reach for stronger victims of higher energy need.  So, returning above to the psycho’s serial murder equation, the first murder had a reserve of energy afterward.  The second murder did too.  Those two reserves of energy were sufficient to accomplish the third, but the consequences were inevitable.

“The Gold of Troy,” by Robert Payne

Opening Paragraph:

During the seventies and eighties of the last century an old gray-haired scholar, wearing a high collar and a sun helmet, was to be seen wandering over the ruins of an obscure mound in Asia Minor.  He was short and wiry, with dark brown eyes, high cheekbones, a heavy nose, and a sensual mouth; there was something of the peasant about him, something too of the Lubeck merchants who were  his ancestors.  He spoke in a high-pitched voice, dressed shabbily, walked with a curious gliding motion, and always carried in his coat pocket a dog-eared paper-bound edition of the Iliad or the Odyssey.  To the friendly inquirer he would explain that he had uncovered the ancient city of Troy and found in its walls a secret treasure hoard of gold, which he kept securely locked in his house in Athens.  He believed that the ashes of Odysseus, the crown jewels of the Trojan Empire, and the golden death masks of Agamemnon and many  other Greek heroes were in his possession, and it is just possible that his claims were justified.  Until he was long past middle age he never touched a spade, but during the last seventeen years of his life he excavated continually.  The most unscientific of archeologists, he founded the modern science of archeology.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) Let me note here that this biography won critical acclaim as well as a place on best-seller lists.  Best sellers, good, bad, or indifferent, usually have one thing in common: they have a mass appeal; that is, the average reader finds them interesting enough to recommend them to friends.

It is at once evident that this is not a jazzed-up biographical novel based on more imagination than facts.  The opening paragraph, long and detailed, gives the impression that here is a book based on good, solid material.  The author presents his protagonist in an interesting way.  The mention of Odysseus, the crown jewels of the Trojan Empire and the death masks of Agamemnon echo in our minds like the opening bars of a song remembered from our childhood.  The author captures our attention and succeeds in luring us on to read further.

“The Nephew,” by James Purdy

(Bad) Opening Paragraph:

All the flags were out in front of the houses and stores in Rainbow Center on Memorial Day, as Boyd Mason drove his Buick back from a real-estate trip to Kentucky, and parked on the east corner of Peninsula Drive and Crest Ridge Road, at the side of his sister Alma’s house, where he had lived since his wife’s death twenty years before.

(My Mentor Howard Pease continues) This one-sentence paragraph contains more than a dozen facts, at least half of them not important enough to be included so soon. When you overload a first sentence or paragraph with so much information, your reader is apt to come up so wobbly and bewildered that you lose him. Therefore, prune your opening paragraph until only a few important facts are given.

Case of the Missing Cover-Up

10. The necessity for eliminating the little overlooked clues and loose threads
9.   The false suspect
8.  
7.   The flight
6.   The actual killing
5.   The first irretrievable step
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motive

First, is a cover-up necessary?  Not for the assassin.  The false suspect provides enough distraction for a clean getaway.  No other details need addressing.

 

New Hope For The Dead

New Hope for the DeadNew Hope for the Dead by Charles Willeford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pulp Affirmative Action

"Sanchez picked up one of the long-legged dolls. Hoke sniffed the anima of the owner---Patou's Joy, perspiration, cold cream, bath powder, soap, and stale cigarette smoke.
"'You ever notice,' he said, 'how a woman's room always smells like the inside of her purse?'
"'Nope.' Sanchez dropped the doll on the bed. 'But I've noticed that a man's bedroom smells like a YMCA locker room.'"

Later, Hoke trying to make conversation with Ellita Sanchez during the investigation:

"'You Latin girls lead a sheltered life. But the point I'm trying to make is, these marks look like hickeys to me.'
"'Maybe so. From the smile on his face, he died happy.'
"'That's not a smile, that's rictus. A lot of people who aren't happy to die grin like that.'"

Willeford, a retired Army sergeant who began writing Pulp in the service in the early 50's often brings a knowing sensibility of the professional soldier (albeit the civilian version as a police officer). In this regard, Willeford's protagonists (and especially Sgt. Hoke Moseley) have a military background, or have subordinates who are retired sergeants. And with those attributes of a military life of service comes the mix of accommodation and survival skills. This entry in the series is especially illustrative of this with Hoke's solution to his needs balanced with the solution of a crime. I won't say more given it may reveal too much to those who have not read this book.

Willeford also introduces a new (for the time, but fairly common currently) mode to the police procedural, and that is more tightly integrated story line that draws in family. Some may object this has infrequently been a side-show to the genre (the police procedural), and, as such, nothing remarkable. I would argue that Willeford brings in genuine content consistent with the character of Hoke that adds to the continuity of his earliest work; and it meshes as smoothly as Michael Connelly’s Bosch.


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“Madame Bovary,” by Gustave Flaubert

Opening paragraph:

Madame Bovary had opened her window that gave on to the garden, and was watching the clouds.

They were gathering in the west, in the direction of Rouen, twisting rapidly in black swirls; out from behind them shot great sun rays, like golden arrows of a hanging trophy; and the rest of the sky was empty, white as porcelain. Then came a gust of wind; the poplars swayed; and suddenly the rain was pattering on the green leaves. But soon the sun came out again; chickens cackled; sparrows fluttered their wings in the wet bushes; and rivulets flowing along the gravel carried away the pink flowers of an acacia.

Here we have the protagonist placed at an open window. Next we are given a picture with movement as perceived by two, or possibly three, of her senses. Whether or not the wind struck Madame Bovary’s face is not indicated, but it did strike the trees. Notice that in his mention of trees Flaubert gets down to specifics. He names poplars and one acacia.

Now take a blue pencil and underline words presenting sound: rain was pattering and chickens cackled. Next take a red pencil and underline color words. I find five: black, golden, white, green, pink.

When an artist or illustrator writes a book, it is always noticeable how many color words he uses. Some writers use hardly any.

Once I handed back to a student his manuscript with the notation that it was what I called a gray piece of work; he had not brightened it up with a single bit of color, not even reds, blues or greens. When, a week later, his manuscript came back to me, I found that he had walked his protagonist up a garden path bordered with flowers of a dozen different colors. It was like a list of bouquets you might order for a wedding reception—no, you’d never order so many colors. I thought my student was trying to get a laugh out of me, but he assured me in all seriousness that it had not been intended as a joke. At once I saw I had failed to say:

Sprinkle color words into your manuscript.

Progression of The Reveal

Part 12, appearing by page 70-something, seems to be the place to do the reveal.  This is a dialogue between Carson and Sean about what Carson hopes to achieve through self-experimentation with a virus that reprograms his nervous system.

I label this post as the progression because I’ve been working and re-working the first 100 pages for several months.  To put that into context, the novel has been roughly 320 pages long when the first draft was finished a year ago.  Originally, the reveal bubbled to the surface of the story at least 100 pages later.  This was not satisfying.

Over the course of those months, the reveal has been moving backwards toward the opening pages making it a better story.

At some point, I will have to pickup at page 120-something and move forward into a new narrative arc.  It could easily wipe out half of the original.  Future posts will offer their own reveal on that possibility.

“Advise and Consent,” by Allen Drury

Opening Paragraph:

When Bob Munson awoke in his apartment at the Sheraton-Park Hotel at seven thirty-one in the morning he had the feeling it would be a bad day. The impression was confirmed as soon as he got out of bed and brought in the Washington Post and Times Herald.

PRESIDENT NAMES LEFFINGWELL SECRETARY OF STATE, the headline said. What Bob Munson said, in a tired voice, was, “Oh. God damn!”

(My Mentor Howard Pease continues) The protagonist and setting are given, plus a hook that slides over into the second paragraph. The reader’s interest is caught, and he is off to a flying start.

Let me pause long enough to point out two faults in the opening sentence. The first is in the prose. Our better writers would use the personal pronoun he in the dependent clause and save the proper noun Bob Munson for the main clause, thus: When he awoke in his apartment … Bob Munson had the feeling it would be a bad day. The second fault is one of craftsmanship. The protagonist’s feeling that it would be a bad day is psychologically unsound unless he has a reason for facing the new day with anxiety. His impression is confirmed when he picks up the morning paper and reads the headline. But soon after we learn that this news is a surprise to him. He is also angry, because, as majority leader of the Senate, he was not informed in advance by the President.

Case of the Missing False Suspect

10. The necessity for eliminating the little overlooked clues and loose threads
9.  
8.   The cover up
7.   The flight
6.   The actual killing
5.   The first irretrievable step
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motive

The False Suspect is more a convention of taste and times when it appeared.  A False Suspect is useful, but could also be an unnecessary plot elaboration.

The type of murderer that climbs past this rung in the ladder probably wouldn’t miss it.  However, an insecure murderer might be at a loss.

 

The Plan, the third rung of The Murderer’s Ladder

10. The necessity for eliminating the little overlooked clues and loose threads
9.   The false suspect
8.   The cover up
7.   The flight
6.   The actual killing
5.   The first irretrievable step
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

The plan is the structuring of motivation to use the components of temptation to anticipate probable opportunity.

The plan needs to cover the who, what, where, why, and when of action.

The who: the antagonist and temptable characters.

The why and what: found where the motivations of the antagonist and tempted characters converge.

The where and when: as observed in the temptation

What is needed next is an opportunity that looks much like the temptation that was offered in rung 2.

The antagonist is under a modest stress of optimism where temptation proves there are opportunities.  Thus, at the elemental level, planning engages the emotion of joy.

The Ninth Rung of the Character’s Growth Ladder

10. Reconciliation
9.   Separation
8.   Denial
7.   Disruption
6.   The reversible step into the Danger zone
5.   The first irreversible step into the Risk zone
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

What does first irretrievable step mean for other characters—if they were to have their own ladders?

In terms of the protagonist, there are several interpretations.  Here is one.

In the standard mystery, where the protagonist is a detective, then this rung of the ladder would represent that action taken that exposes the protagonist’s examination of the events to the antagonist.  Here, the canon of mystery writing presents a very schematic approach to the application of the fifth rung to this other character, but this application hardly fits all writing genres.  For them, I consider:

In terms of minor characters (being neither the protagonist nor the antagonist), I will generalize how this rung is employed.

The fifth rung is about the possibility of others discovering the intentions of the character.  Abstractly, it could mean an action taken by the character that has a strong connection that can be traced back to the character.  In a family-drama, it could be the filing of divorce papers by a spouse.  This presumes that the motivation for divorce was hidden (and it may well remain that way).  It follows that having done this, the next rung is divorce.

Authors Marketing 2021

Facebook Ads Without Outside Links

What does this mean, Richard?

This comes from Rusty Shelton who is a frequent contributor, speaker, and lecturer at the San Francisco Writers Conferences for at least the last three years.  He offered that Facebook prioritizes advertising that keeps the reader’s eyes on Facebook.  By that, he meant Facebook will withhold your advertising from a certain population if you seek to move them off Facebook.  Or, you will get viewed last in the list of ads pushed toward a reader.

Facebook offers a number of labels for a call to action (Book Now), and they all presume off-site links to a business landing page.

There is a no-button option.

This is the basis of my next round of advertising …
using a promising graphic that is popular,
the no-button option with “share” as the goal;
and a new ad copy that is now fuller.

Why fuller, longer, built out?  With this no-button option comes full text display with the graphic, instead of the truncated text with graphic and a “see more” prompt.

Quantum Dot Self Assembly

From A Reactive Peptidic Linker for Self-Assembling Hybrid Quantum Dot–DNA Bioconjugates:

Quantum Dot Bioconjugate Self Assembly

Our goal was to develop a bifunctional peptide linker that could allow easy attachment of DNA oligonucleotides at one end while the other is modified with a polyhistidine tag to facilitate self-assembly of the full peptide-DNA complex onto QDs via metal-histidine interactions.

QDtaglinkerDNA

We have developed a conjugation strategy based on metal-affinity-driven
interactions between CdSe-ZnS core-shell QDs and proteins or peptides appended with polyhistidine (Hisn) tags. … The His tag drives self assembly by interacting directly with the metallic surface …


  1.  (DNA) DNA conjugates of target DNA are thiolated (sulf-hydride group attached):
  2. (linker)  The synthesis of the peptide module was performed by standard solid-phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) on Rink amide resin to create the desired His6-Cys sequence.
    The crude peptide was precipitated, and the final bifunctional reactive linker His6-Cys(Ac)-S-S-Py was obtained through a direct disulfide exchange reaction.
    (the initial reactive chemistry for His6 attachment to thiolated-DNA is one of the fastest and most common linkage chemistries used in bioconjugation)
  3. (tag)  Functionalization of free 5‘-thiol DNA with the peptide linker (4) to yield the His6-tailed oligo (5) was rapid and straightforward …
    and the mixture was allowed to react anywhere from 1 h to overnight
  4. (Quantum Dot)  The His tag drives self assembly by interacting directly with the metallic surface [of the Quantum Dot]

The QD-peptide-DNA conjugates were further characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging, where association of oligos with a central QD was observed only for samples made of QDs mixed with His6-peptide-DNA …


We also demonstrate the potential utility of this His-reactive-peptide modification of DNA by assembling and testing a QD-DNA molecular beacon that specifically detected the presence of its complementary sequence.

The potential of this reactive linker was demonstrated by self-assembling several QD-DNA conjugates as well as a QD-MB construct able to discriminate between different sequences of DNA. A variety of other applications, such as highly luminescent multilabeled hybridization probes, are possible using this construct. Preforming MB sensors with different color QDs and then mixing them may allow “multiplexing”.  Beyond nanoparticle-MBs, this selfassembly technique may be applicable to attaching biomolecules to a variety of other similarly prepared surfaces.


Quantum Dot Bioconjugate Self Assembly

And now for the shortened version.  Above, you will see a very stylized expression of the process of self-assembly.  Again, we will do this by steps:

  1. Obtain the His6 tags (Polyhistidine-tag)
  2. Obtain Cy5 dye (a fluorescent/fluorophore nano particle)
  3. Obtain the Thiolated DNA
    1. Label the Thiolated DNA with Cy5 dye, the dye becoming a quenched fluorophore;
  4. Obtain the Quantum Dots
  5. Combine where:
    1. The Thiolated DNA, which has an affinity for the one end of the His6 tag, becomes attached;
    2. The His6 tag, which has an affinity for the DHLA covering of the Quantum Dot, becomes attached;
    3. (not a production step, but found in the illustration prior to the addition of the complementary DNA) Excite the batch with high energy light as seen in the center of the graphic where:
      1. the proximity of the Cy5 particle in the His6–Thiolated DNA and the Quantum Dot allows the molecular beacon to absorb energy through FRET (Förster resonance energy transfer) and emit a color shifted light in fluorescence;
  6. (not a production step, but, rather, the set-up for a test of the marker beacon) Obtain and add Complementary DNA to the process
    1. the molecular beacon (the His6–Thiolated DNA–Cy5) unzips, and takes on the Complementary DNA;
  7. (not a production step, but, rather, a test of the marker beacon) The right side of the graphic shows the action the new bioconjugated Quantum Dot undergoes to stimulation by (a now second) high energy light to emit a color shifted light in fluorescence.

“The Late Love of Dorrie Hayes,” by Mary Jane Rolfs

Opening Paragraph:

Dorrie Hayes had never had so much happiness that she could take any for granted.  She was the kind of girl who had endured many of the small aggravations of life and some of the big ones.  As an adolescent, she had been fat with an unreliable complexion and crooked teeth.  When time and diligence had corrected these misfortunes, she started growing tall at an alarming rate and her hair was completely unmanageable.  There were a few years of relative calm and then it started all over again.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) This first paragraph is author’s statement.  Miss Rolfs tells us a few selected facts about her protagonist.  We are beginning to know a bit about the outer girl and the inner girl, her looks and her worries.  Our sympathy is roused.  Dorrie’s predicament makes us recall the years when we, too, were dissatisfied with our appearance, those years before we finally decided upon acceptance.  Most readers will want to know more about Dorrie and how she solved her problem.

The Course of Europe Since Waterloo, by Walter Phelps Hall, PhD, and William Stearns Davis, PhD.

Opening Paragraph:

On August 7, 1815, a stately British ship of the line glided out of the harbor of Torbay, and turned her prow southwestward, seeking the broad Atlantic. Upon her quarterdeck paced a little man, stout and heavy-shouldered, with a thick neck and head set low. He was clad in a much-worn green uniform of a French army officer, and the young naval lieutenants watched him curiously, yet with awe, as he walked the deck hour after hour, or stood at the porthole of his cabin, his face pale and set, his deep bloodshot eyes looking across the sea—“eyes that seemed to look at everything, and yet at something beyond.” The ship of the line was the Northumberland. Her passenger was Napoleon Bonaparte. He was bound for St. Helena, there to die a most unresigned prisoner on May 5, 1821.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) Here is proof, I think you’ll agree, that a textbook need not be dull and need not be poorly written. The late William Stearns Davis, one of the authors, was a novelist as well as a historian, and he used fiction techniques when collaborating upon this textbook. Notice that he starts on a definite day and gives a picture of a ship in motion. Next he focuses upon the ship’s deck and shows us a little man in action. Suspense, beginning with the reaction of other officers to this man, mounts steadily until the hook is finally tossed out—the man’s name.

Take away the last part of the final sentence, which jumps ahead in time, and you have a professional first paragraph for a novel. Thus, were it fiction instead of a history text, your paragraph might end with the sentence: Her passenger was Napoleon Bonaparte, bound for St. Helena.

“Samson and Delilah,” by D. H. Lawrence

Descriptive Paragraph:

A man got down from the motor-omnibus that runs from Penzance to St. Just-in-Penwith, and turned northwards, up-hill towards the Polestar.  It was only half-past six, but already the stars were out, a cold little wind was blowing from the sea, and the crystalline, three-pulse flash of the lighthouse below the cliffs beat rhythmically in the first darkness.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) In this opening paragraph the author has added a new element, the protagonist, though the man is not named.  We see him walking in the early evening along the coast of Cornwall, and the description of the setting might have been seen through his eyes.  Since readers are more interested in people than in Setting, this paragraph is more apt to catch attention.

“Monastery Road,” by Eric Mitchell

Descriptive Paragraph:

Anthony was too excited to sleep.  At midnight he heard the cook’s drunken voice raised in song behind the inn and later a rooster crowing; he saw the first grey light of dawn streak bits of sky through the narrow window.  He sprang up from his mattress before anyone else was awake and hurried, shivering in the early chill, to the wash basin outside the back door … He put on his clothes in the dark.  His loose surcoat had blue and tawny stripes.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues with an exercise) Now underline with your two colored pencils: blue for any of the senses used, red for the color words.

Next, let me say that here is an author who makes use of color words as well as the five senses, and usually he uses both with exactness.  This paragraph, however, happens to contain a flaw, a statement about color, that mars the flow of the narrative.  Can you spot it?  Pause for a moment until you find it.

Here’s the flaw: If our protagonist is putting on his surcoat in the dark, he cannot see its colors, and neither can we.  A small inaccuracy, yes.  Still, it is a tiny hurdle which an alert reader might stumble over.  Therefore, when you present any of the five senses in your writing, take care that your statement is physiologically possible.

The Seventh Rung of the Character’s Growth Ladder

10. Reconciliation
9.   Separation
8.   Denial
7.   Disruption
6.   The reversible step into the Danger zone
5.   The first irreversible step into the Risk zone
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

What does first irretrievable step mean for other characters—if they were to have their own ladders?

In terms of the protagonist, there are several interpretations.  Here is one.

In the standard mystery, where the protagonist is a detective, then this rung of the ladder would represent that action taken that exposes the protagonist’s examination of the events to the antagonist.  Here, the canon of mystery writing presents a very schematic approach to the application of the fifth rung to this other character, but this application hardly fits all writing genres.  For them, I consider:

In terms of minor characters (being neither the protagonist nor the antagonist), I will generalize how this rung is employed.

The fifth rung is about the possibility of others discovering the intentions of the character.  Abstractly, it could mean an action taken by the character that has a strong connection that can be traced back to the character.  In a family-drama, it could be the filing of divorce papers by a spouse.  This presumes that the motivation for divorce was hidden (and it may well remain that way).  It follows that having done this, the next rung is divorce.

Pick-Up

Pick-UpPick-Up by Charles Willeford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Continuing my conceit of qualifying terms for this genre, I offer:

Pulp Artist

I am always surprised at the humanity that surfaces with Willeford's handling of this cheap and dirty line of reading. He doesn't squirm or coyly turn his face from the squalid overtures offered by the characteristic covers (which I so love---they pack so much promise in an image).

Without beating around the bush, we have a story of two alcoholics, and their descent into the abyss of hopelessness that leads them to suicide. As much as that says, it doesn't reveal what I discovered about how much un-sentimental sympathy Willeford has for them with the existential twist at the end.

The story is simple, but Willeford's technique is solid enough to build nuance into each character's being. There is sex, beatings, murder, the cosmic joke of unasked-for redemption...and a lot of smoking and drinking.

View all my reviews

The Burnt Orange Heresy

The Burnt Orange HeresyThe Burnt Orange Heresy by Charles Willeford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pulp Art redux

As in again?

Yes, this picks up on a theme developed by Willeford in "Pick Up." This isn't accidental because it is underlined (maybe highlighted would be preferable) by both artists' choice of...wait for it...Orange. Especially dark orange.

"Pick Up" is the better novel. This one moves us across the country from Frisco to Florida with the migration of the author. This one moves upscale, but doesn't make the fall anymore deeper (and possibly shallower) than that in "Pick Up."

In a nutshell: derivative.

View all my reviews

The Fifth Rung of the Character’s Growth Ladder

10. Reconciliation
9.   Separation
8.   Denial
7.   Disruption
6.   The reversible step into the Danger zone
5.   The first irreversible step into the Risk zone
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

What does first irretrievable step mean for other characters—if they were to have their own ladders?

In terms of the protagonist, there are several interpretations.  Here is one.

In the standard mystery, where the protagonist is a detective, then this rung of the ladder would represent that action taken that exposes the protagonist’s examination of the events to the antagonist.  Here, the canon of mystery writing presents a very schematic approach to the application of the fifth rung to this other character, but this application hardly fits all writing genres.  For them, I consider:

In terms of minor characters (being neither the protagonist nor the antagonist), I will generalize how this rung is employed.

The fifth rung is about the possibility of others discovering the intentions of the character.  Abstractly, it could mean an action taken by the character that has a strong connection that can be traced back to the character.  In a family-drama, it could be the filing of divorce papers by a spouse.  This presumes that the motivation for divorce was hidden (and it may well remain that way).  It follows that having done this, the next rung is divorce.

Rogue NanoVirus Design Elements And Products

Designing a NanoVirus has been a work in progress, and if I dare say so (noting a certain irony), an evolution.  First, the components:

Quantum Dots

A quantum dot is a one dimensional construction.  It is usually less than 10nm wide (yes, that contradicts the notion of one dimension when it has height, width, and length, but at the quantum scale it is suitable).  By selection of material, shape, and size, various optical properties can be set.

Size (nm) Emission Peak (nm) Color
2.2 [10] 495 blue
2.9 [10] 550 green
3.1 [11] 576 yellow
4.1 [10] 595 orange
4.4 [12] 611 orange
4.8[11] 644 red
7.3 [10] 655 dark red

A QDot is often made of toxic elements such as CdSe (Cadmium Selenium).  For biomedical applications this needs to be covered without disturbing the optical qualities of the QDot.

To be useful, the quantum dot needs to be functionalized.  This means the QDot is attached with strands or layers that can, in turn, selectively bind to larger structures.  Another means of attachment is through bio-conjugation which allows for protecting the QDot in a wide variety of harsh media.  This leads to the application of DNA or nucleotides.

QDot Coatings for Tagging

The metals used to construct quantum dots are toxic.  For biological applications, it is necessary to cover them while still retaining the optical qualities and the possibility of making attachments.

One such coating is Dihydrolipoic acid.

QDot Tags for Functionalization

For a quantum dot to be useful beyond responding to ultraviolet light with fluorescence, a tag is added that allows for attachments.  These attachments are simple handles that will attach, in turn, to complex oligonucleotides to become functionalized.  These oligonucleotides are chosen to attach, once again, to target RNA/DNA strands.  This target will then have a marker beacon to aid viewing the site at which the target resides.

Cy5 fluorophore

Probe Ex (nm) Em (nm) MW Quantum yield
Cy2 489 506 714 QY 0.12
Cy3 (512);550 570;(615) 767 QY 0.15 [5]
Cy3B 558 572;(620) 658 QY 0.67
Cy3.5 581 594;(640) 1102 QY 0.15
Cy5 (625);650 670 792 QY 0.27[5]
Cy5.5 675 694 1128 QY 0.28[6]
Cy7 743 767 818 QY 0.28

Cyanine variants exhibit various optical properties.  Within this post, it is limited to being used as a quenched fluorophore that engages through FRET with the quantum dot.

Molecular Beacon

Molecular beacons are hairpin shaped RNA/DNA fragment molecules with an internally quenched fluorophore, the Cy5 above, whose fluorescence is restored when they bind to a target nucleic acid sequence. This is a novel non-radioactive method for detecting specific sequences of nucleic acids. They are useful in situations where it is either not possible or desirable to isolate the probe-target hybrids from an excess of the hybridization probes.

Oligonucleotide (DNA)

From Wikipedia:

Short DNA or RNA molecules made in the laboratory by solid-phase chemical synthesis, these small bits of nucleic acids can be manufactured as single-stranded molecules with any user-specified sequence, and so are vital for artificial gene synthesis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing, library construction and as molecular probes.

DNA Origami

From the work of Paul Rothemund:

DNA Origami is the manipulation of single strands of M13mp18, a folding of a long single strand of this viral DNA aided by multiple smaller “staple” strands.

The simpler description is that DNA can be sliced and diced into short strands that are stiff, and then those strands can be connected/configured into triangles, squares, pentagrams, hexagons….  These planar elements can then be assembled into three dimensional pyramids, cubes, tubes, buckyballs….

DNA Tiles

From the work of Erik Winfree:

The creation of two-dimensional lattices of DNA tiles using the “double crossover” motif. These tile-based structures provided the capability to implement DNA computing.

DNA computing performs the standard operations of comparing, sorting, counting, and such, but are not intended to replace a word-processor or spreadsheet program.

sgRNA

single guide RNA contains bases in both repeat and spacer regions of a single RNA strand.  In a CRISPR application (see below), repeater and spacer has the following meanings:

Repeat–a pattern of bases that are recognized by dCas9 by their being palindromes (the sequence of bases are lined up to read the same both ways).  Repeats signal that the pattern of bases that follows the repeat is a spacer.

Spacer–a short pattern of bases that have been stripped out of a virus’ DNA.  The length is sufficient to uniquely identify the virus’ past visit, and to engage Cas9 (dCas9 if the spacer is engineered) to act upon the agent that introduced the DNA recently (for a bacteria, it would sense the invasion of a virus based on a past infection).

Cas9

CRISPR associated protein 9.  This protein 9 is specifically associated with the host bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes it inhabits.  Protein 9 is a DNA library of virus DNA samples from the bacteria’s past experience of being attacked by viruses.  Protein 9 is called a single guide RNA (see above).

Cas9 performs an interrogation on an intruding virus by unwinding that virus’ DNA and checking if it is complementary (matches) to any 20 basepair spacer region of the guide RNA. If the DNA substrate is complementary (matched) to the guide RNA, Cas9 cleaves the invading DNA.  This recognition method effectively eliminates the virus.

However, for applications beyond this specific protein 9 and this specific bacteria, Cas9 has the unique ability to bind to essentially any complement (matching) sequence in any genome when provided with a tailored guide RNA.

When Cas9 is used informally as a research or engineered process outside of the specific bacteria, Streptococcus pyogene, it is frequently described as a mutant/mutation of Cas9, or as dCas9 (see following).

dCas9

dead CRISPR associated protein 9.  A Cas9 variant used for both mechanistic studies into Cas9 DNA interrogative binding and as a general programmable DNA binding RNA-Protein complex.  Some might prefer to associate the d in dCas9 to the d in endonuclease-deficient.

dCas9 and its guide RNA can be used to interrogate DNA to then

  • restore that DNA and release it; or
  • remove the matching sequence from that DNA and release it shortened; or
  • clip that DNA and disrupt it; or
  • remove the matching sequence and insert a new sequence into the DNA and release it; or
  • block assembly of transcription factors leading to silencing of specific gene expression; or
  • activate genes when fused to transcription activating factors.

dCas9-Fusion

A “split-fusion” approach is where the sgRNA (see above) is split into two inactive halves that only regain functionality when the two halves are co-joined at a particular site.

CRISPR

CRISPRs are part of a bacteria’s DNA recognition and adaptive immunity system.  This acronym merely names the organization of elements that enable this system, and is not in itself any separable component.

CRISPRs (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) are segments of DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences. Each repetition is followed by short segments of “spacer DNA” from previous exposures to a bacterial virus or plasmid. It is pronounced “crisper.

By delivering the Cas9 protein and appropriate guide RNAs into a cell, the organism’s genome can be cut at any desired location.

The CRISPR/Cas9 system is an immune system that confers resistance to bacterial DNA and viruses and provides a form of acquired immunity.

CRISPRa

CRISPR activator library for transcriptional activation

CRISPRi

CRISPR interfering library for transcriptional repression

Enteric Nervous System

The enteric nervous system (ENS) or intrinsic nervous system is one of the main divisions of the nervous system and consists of a mesh-like system of neurons that governs the function of the gastrointestinal system. It is now usually referred to as separate from the autonomic nervous system since it has its own independent reflex activity.

Microbiome

Some of the microbes in the human body can modify the production of neurotransmitters known to occur in the brain.

Bacteroides fragilis

From: Microbiota Modulate Behavioral and Physiological Abnormalities Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Elaine Y. Hsiao, et al.

Bacteroides fragilis corrects gut permeability, alters microbial composition, and ameliorates defects in communicative, stereotypic, anxiety-like and sensorimotor behaviors.

NanoVirus Product

At the structural level, the virus is composed of DNA origami, folded into a shape suited as a delivery mechanism much like the capsid of a virus.  QDots functionalized with DNA serve as the vertices and edges of the construction.  The QDot heads one or more long tails of DNA.

Within this capsid structure is an DNA tile program, and an sgRNA in a dCas9 (see both above).

“The Chase and Capture of Adolf Eichmann,” by Bela von Block.

Opening Paragraph:

The tall, gaunt man with protruding ears and a receding hairline got off the bus and started to walk along the murky Buenos Aires street. Outwardly he was relaxed, just another working man after a hard day. Inwardly he was tense, watchful—as he had been, day and night, for 15 years.

(My Mentor Howard Pease continues) With the use of the three fundamentals the author catches our attention by beginning this article at a moment in time just before the climax. First, a character is presented in action in a definite setting; then comes the hook. Though this reads like fiction, it is fact.

Notice that the protagonist’s name is not given. There are two reasons for this. His name is given in the title. He is also now living under an assumed name, perhaps one of many that he has used since Hitler’s Germany crashed under the onslaught of the Allied Forces. He is a man hiding from retribution.

“Youth,” by Joseph Conrad

Descriptive Paragraph:

And this is how I see the East.  I have seen its secret places and have looked into its very soul; but now I see it always from a small boat, a high outline of mountains, blue and afar in the morning; like faint mist at noon; a jagged wall of purple at sunset.  I have the feel of the oar in my hand, the vision of a scorching blue sea in my eyes.  And I see a bay, a wide bay, smooth as glass and polished like ice, shimmering in the dark.  A red light burns far off upon the gloom of the land, and the night is soft and warm.  We drag at the oars with aching arms, and suddenly a puff of wind, a puff faint and tepid and laden with strange odors of blossoms, of aromatic wood, comes out of the still night—the first sigh of the East on my face.…

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) Pay attention to the fact that the author places the protagonist in a certain place—in a small boat offshore—and through that young man’s consciousness we get an impressionistic picture of the landfall, in the morning, at noon, at sunset, at night.  It is a picture in words that appeals to three of our senses, sight, smell, touch.

H. L. Mencken said of Conrad: “There have been, perhaps, greater novelists, but I believe that he was incomparably the greatest artist who ever wrote a novel.”

“A String of Beads,” by Somerset Maugham

Plunge Opening:

“What a bit of luck I’m placed next to you,” said Laura as we sat down to dinner.
“For me,” I replied politely.

“That remains to be seen.  I particularly wanted to have the chance of talking to you.  I’ve got a story to tell you.”

At this my heart sank a little.  “I’d sooner you talked about yourself,” I answered.  “Or even about me.”

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) We learn from this that we are probably beginning a first-person, observer’s story about someone we have not yet met.  And we also get the impression that if Laura is to tell the story, her interpretation will be different from the observer’s, the “I” person, Mr. Maugham himself.  Except for setting—a dinner party—we get nothing else.
Maugham’s first goal in writing was clarity, and indeed this plunge opening is instantly understood by a reader.

“The Snake,” by John Steinbeck

Descriptive Paragraph:

It was almost dark when young Dr. Phillips swung his sack to his shoulder and left the tide pool.  He climbed over the rocks and squashed along the street in his rubber boots.  The street lights were on by the time he arrived at his little commercial laboratory on the cannery street of Monterey.  It was a tight little building, standing partly on piers over the bay water and partly on land.  On both sides the big corrugated-iron sardine canneries crowded in on it.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) Here the setting shows the protagonist as part of his environment.  A further step gives us his name, and we learn that he is young.  By implication we gather that Dr.  Phillips is not a medical man but a scientist who runs a commercial laboratory on cannery row; therefore, he is no doubt a marine biologist.

Notice that he is in action.  We glimpse the tide pool and the rocks on the beach.  We do not see the town itself until the protagonist arrives at his laboratory.  The time element is mentioned twice, but not by clock.  This gives the impression that Dr. Phillips is a man who works until it is too dark to see.  Notice, too, the active verbs climb and squash, both used without adverbs.

Case of the Missing Temptation

10. The necessity for eliminating the little overlooked clues and loose threads
9.   The false suspect
8.   The cover up
7.   The flight
6.   The actual killing
5.   The first irretrievable step
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.  
1.   Motive

What is the murderer’s ladder without temptation?  Every detective moves forward on the motive of the criminal, just as they count off their suspicions in that the suspect had the motive, means, and opportunity (fled the scene, resisted arrest, etc.).

This a professional murderer.  The temptation is anticipated by the motive (the need for money), and the remaining ladder steps (at least to actual murder) are expected to be performed professionally (and even the problems that may crop up during and after).

How is the professional murderer distinct from the psychotic murderer?  The professional may be psychotic; but the psychotic is not professional.

If the absence of temptation so closely hews to psychology, it could also be the hallmark of the romantic murderer.  However, this would an obsessive, romantic murderer.

“Lord Jim,” by Joseph Conrad

Opening Paragraph:

He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.  His voice was deep, loud, and his manner displayed a kind of dogged self-assertion which had nothing aggressive in it.  It seemed a necessity, and it was directed apparently as much at himself as at anybody else.  He was spotlessly neat, appareled in immaculate white from shoes to hat, and in the various Eastern ports where he got his living as ship-chandler’s water-clerk he was very popular.

(My mentor Howard Pease continues) Observe that, instead of the protagonist’s name being given in the opening paragraph, the author uses the pronoun he, just as Kipling does in “Kim.”  This can be very effective, especially so when the title contains the name of the protagonist.  Lord Jim is a translation of Tuan Jim, as he was called by the Malays in Singapore and other Eastern ports.

Temptation, the second rung of The Murderer’s Ladder

10. The necessity for eliminating the little overlooked clues and loose threads
9.   The false suspect
8.   The cover up
7.   The flight
6.   The actual killing
5.   The first irretrievable step
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

What is temptation?

It is the imagining of motivation’s needs being fulfilled.

Temptation, as a social interaction observed by the antagonist, contains the necessary elements to lead to the antagonist’s preferred outcome.  Those elements are the who, what, where, why, and when.

The who: characters that can act on the antagonist’s needs.

The what: needs of the characters that mirror those of the antagonist.

The where: the setting of the characters’ social interaction is suited to the antagonist’s preferred setting.

The why: the characters display flaws (their own motivations) that can be manipulated.

The when: the characters’ social interaction exhibits a problem that is not isolated in time, it remains unsolved, and it can resurface later to the antagonist’s advantage.

The antagonist’s observed social interaction’s outcome may not be the preferred one, but the antagonist appreciates the temptation of being able to prompt the characters, stage the setting, and direct the action.  This only requires planning.

The antagonist is under a modest positive stress (eustress) of release.  Thus, at the elemental level it engages joy.

“The Ambassadors,” by Henry James

Opening paragraph:

Strether called, his second morning in Paris, on the bankers, in the Rue Scribe, to whom his letter of credit was addressed, and he made this visit attended by Waymarsh, in whose company he had crossed from London two days before.

As this comes from chapter five’s opening paragraph and lacks a hook, I included it as an example of a long sentence.  It is exposition, but it puts a lot of water over the dam to then move into the story line.

The First Rung of the Character’s Growth Ladder

10. Reconciliation
9.   Separation
8.   Denial
7.   Disruption
6.   The reversible step into the Danger zone
5.   The first irreversible step into the Risk zone
4.   The opportunity
3.   The plan
2.   Temptation
1.   Motivation

What does the motivation step mean for other characters—if they were to have their own ladders?

If you have arrived here from the Murderer’s Ladder, then motivation could easily be anticipated as being revenge driven.  However, this does not remove that same possible drive from other characters—especially the murderer’s henchmen.

Alternatively, motivation could be inspired out of compassion … from the murderer, the murderer’s henchmen, the murdered, the investigator, others, or all.  That is to say that motivation is individual and could be as similar or as different as those individuals.  None have been put to the test of their motivation, that remains at the next step of Temptation.

As a general observation, however, most motivations can be examined and unwound to simpler motivations that arrived early in the character’s life.

“A Jury of Her Peers,” by Susan Glaspell

Opening Paragraph:

When Martha Hale opened the storm door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that round her head, her eye made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. It was no ordinary thing that called her away—it was probably further from ordinary than anything that had ever happened in Dickson County. But what her eye took in was that her kitchen was in no shape for leaving: her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted.

According to my Mentor, Howard Pease, this satisfies 3 requirements:

1. Name your protagonist, your main character.

2. Mention setting, so the reader will immediately know the story’s background: a farm, a city street, a boardinghouse, a hotel, a plane. The time element is often included as an important part of the setting—the time of year, the time of day.

3. Throw out a small hook to catch the reader’s interest.

“The Past,” by Ellen Glasgow

Opening Hook Paragraph:

I had no sooner entered the house than I knew something was wrong. Though I had never been in so splendid a place before—it was one of those big houses just off Fifth Avenue—I had a suspicion from the first that the magnificence covered a secret disturbance. I was always quick to receive impressions, and when the black iron doors swung together behind me, I felt as if I were shut inside a prison.

(My Mentor Howard Pease continues) This story is not to be an intellectual puzzle but a more emotional story, no doubt with chills and thrills. Though this paragraph gives other information, the emphasis from the first to the last sentence is on a hook opening.

Our Lady of Darkness

Our Lady of DarknessOur Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pulp Fantasy
(only because calling it Horror in place of Fantasy would be a doubling of Pulp which is its own interpretation of middle-class Horror)

I chose to read this out of my stream of Charles Willeford (actually, I was reading "Pick-Up" at the same time) because of another book (how could it be otherwise?) by Don Herron, "The Dashiell Hammett Tour." Within those pages Don Herron offered a writer he and his group ran into on the streets of The City, Charles Willeford. The purchase of Don's book has lead me to wonders of writers who inhabited San Francisco. Don also introduced me to Fritz Leiber, who added many references of Hammett to his novel, "Our Lady...."

Already knowing how Leiber lived in a rent controlled ("Rhodes" historically Rhodema now Union) hotel in the Tenderloin (and which was merely several blocks from my girlfriend's apartment up Nob Hill), it gave me immediate identification.

However, to return to "Our Lady...."

This story is atmospheric and full of the lore of Megapolisomancy. The hero owns an original journal of a man who studied paramental life-forces that defied time and space; and destructive-forces of the city's megalithic monuments. This book, familiar to an expert who wouldn't touch it for his life, contains both the question and the answer to the journal writer's death.

"Our Lady" is invested with the (author's autobiographical) hero's mood of recovering from the alcoholism following the death of his wife years before. Even then, it is neither morose, nor depressive. Instead, the hero is surrounded with comforting and supportive friends who rescue him from the paramental's highly disturbing embrace.

Of interest, and possibly fascination, is the hero's rumination on the many authors and their titles in the field of fantasy and horror genres that were current in the early 1970s.:
Nostig’s "The Subliminal Occult,"
“The Haunter of the Dark,”
"The Outsider,"
Collected Ghost Stories of Montague Rhodes,
“The City of the Singing Flame,”
"Ames et Fantômes de Douleur,"
"Knochenmädchen in Pelze (mit Peitsche),"
"Suspiria de Profundis,"
"The Spider Glyph in Time,"
"Sex, Death and Supernatural Dread,"
“The Thing on the Doorstep,"
“The Disinterment of Venus,”
...and many others.

View all my reviews

Authors Marketing 2021

Facebook Advertising

I have run four $10 advertisements on Facebook recently (over a three-four week span).

I wanted viewers to click a button that would lead them to my new Meetups, which, in turn, would lead them to my Patreon pages.

I reached 4097 people, in total.  I got 40 clicks, in total.  Individual returns went wide of that average.

My first Ad ran 1 day with no clicks. The accompanying text was vaguely addressed and limited to women.

My second Ad ran 2 days with 12 clicks.  The accompanying text was expansive and included men and women.  Men responded 2:1

My third Ad ran 3 days with 11 clicks. The accompanying text was repetitive and included men and women.  Men responded 2:1

My fourth Ad ran 2 days with 17 clicks.  The accompanying text was targeted (using a premise: “what if …”) and included men and women.  Men responded 4:1.

Take-Home

Targeted text, longer duration.