Category Archives: Publicity & Writing

How A Writer Can Deal With The Fear Of Rejection

PopovichStanGuest Post by Stan Popovich

We have all gotten turned down from a job interview, sports team try out, or even a date. It can sometimes be difficult to overcome the feelings of rejection and to try again. As a result, here is a list of techniques a writer can use to help get over the feelings of not making it on the first or second try.

When getting turned down, the key is to learn from your mistakes and to give it another try. Doing anything in life requires practice and persistence. For example, remember the time when you first learned to ride a bike. The first few times, you kept following off the bike. With some practice and some time, you were able to ride your bike with no problem. Everything we do is a learning experience so do not get discouraged if you don’t make it on the first or second time.

Sometimes, our negative thoughts will get the best of us when we fail to get what we want. A technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that make us feel good. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you in your pocket. Whenever you feel discouraged, open up your small notebook and read those statements.

If you have trouble accomplishing a certain task, visualize yourself doing the task in your mind. For instance, you and your team have to play in the championship volleyball game in front of a large group of people in the next few days. Before the big day comes, imagine yourself playing the game in your mind. Imagine that your playing in front of a large audience. By playing the game in your mind, you will be better prepared to perform for real when the time comes. Use this same technique in your situation. Visualize yourself succeeding at your goal.

Asking for help can make a difference. Talking to someone who has been there can give us insights on how to overcome our current situation. A friend can also provide encouragement and remind us that we are not alone. Also remember to take it one day at a time. Focus on the present and try not to predict what may happen down the road.

As a Layman and author of an anxiety book, I have gone through much adversity in dealing with fear and anxiety. The key is not to give up and to learn from your mistakes. In time, you will become more knowledgeable and experienced and eventually you will accomplish your goals.

BIOGRAPHY:
Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods”.
Stan’s managing fear book has become very popular with over 300 positive book reviews and counting. Please read the many book reviews of Stan’s popular book by going to Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com/

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Managing a Controversial Page

Guest post by Patricia Budd

When I first opened my Facebook page Hadrian’s Lover, it was designed to help me promote my third, and soon to be released, novel of the same name. When I submitted the manuscript to the self-publishing company I had produced my first two novels through, I was surprised when they rejected this manuscript. I found this very odd for two reasons:

  1. I pay them to help with the publication process (I did not ask them to be my publisher).
  2. With every novel I have publish through their company I invest a minimum of ten thousand American dollars.

Even still, the content of my book was clearly too controversial for this particular vanity press.

               At first I doubted the quality of my written word but I quickly reminded myself of the four professional endorsements I had acquired and the kind words my first professional editor had to say. And then there were the praises that came from employees of the company that rejected the manuscript. Two individuals that had read parts of the book said it was of the highest quality and encouraged me to find another means of getting Hadrian’s Lover published. Finally, I pointed out to myself that the editing team had stopped reading on page 48 leaving over two hundred pages of the manuscript unread.

               So, why then, did my long-standing self-publishing company reject Hadrian’s Lover? The editorial team said it was due to sensitive sexual content with individuals under the age of 18. I do not apologize for this, nor do I feel my writing is offensive as a result of this content. Hadrian’s Lover is a book about sexual awakenings and sexual discrimination. It deals with the very real topic of how our youth suffer when their sexual experimentations do not meet society’s accepted standards. I will never ignore this issue, not when stats have shown LGBT youth are more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.[1]

               So, knowing that it will be hard to get information about my novel out to the public I decided to be as proactive as possible and begin promoting the book through Facebook. I had no idea what I was getting into and how this page would take on a life of its own beyond promotional efforts. I did know that the page was going to serve two purposes:

  1. get the word out about my book
  2. create an online gay straight alliance

It is the second component of this page that has really taken off and caused quite a stir of excitement in me. This truly has become the main focus of the page and the main reason I go on Facebook at least three times a day now, just to make sure I have up-to-date content for my followers. People have thanked me for providing this site, I’ve offered advice on more than one occasion and I was even able to help a young Tunisian man find gay connections in his country. Thanks to Erasing 76 Crimes[2] I was able to share with him the Tunisia Gays Official Facebook page. Prior to this he had told me he was alone. He did not know any other gay men and he was afraid to look for friends being homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia. I walked away from this experience seeing my page in a whole new light. What Hadrian’s Lover has to offer as a gay straight alliance is far more critical than that of a promotional vehicle for my novel.

               Since beginning the page I have also experienced a lot of backlash from the bigoted world. This has been quite the emotional ride for me. I haven’t been through this sort of hate and abuse since I was in high school. There is so much hatred out there against the LGBT community it is both sad and frightening. Since opening Hadrian’s Lover I have been called a “faggot” a “twat” and a “perv”. I’ve been told told I should be castrated, boycotted and to stop “promoting population control through all female world”. Needless to say, it has been quite the ride.

               I learned a very important lesson from the woman who said she was going to boycott my novel and tell all the women she knew to do so as well. As volatile as her response was, I understand how I set myself up for such an explosive reaction. My original post clearly upset her. “So, I’m reading The Perks of Being a Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky and I’ve read about a 15 yr old boy masturbating and a 15 yr old boy forcing a 15 yr old girl to give him head. It is an amazing book and vindicates the sexual imagery in my book!” I realize now that I was writing under the assumption that only my followers read my posts and that they know about the troubles I have experienced in the publishing process of my novel, and are familiar with Chbosky’s novel. As an English teacher, one who constantly reminds her students never to assume background knowledge on the part of their audience, I can’t believe I made such a fallacious error. And, yet, being human, I did. As a result I found myself mired in a debate while trying to prove that I do not countenance rape. One thing is for sure, from now on, whenever I make a post I will be very clear about what exactly I am referring to!

               Regardless of the backlash suffered, too many positive experiences have occurred on this page. I am not about to allow a few bigoted haters stop me from running Hadrian’s Lover. I am simply going to be more conscientious about my posts and not let people who get offended offend me!

 

www.patriciamariebudd.com


[1] http://www.crisiscentre.bc.ca/get-help/statistics/; http://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/admin/contentengine/contentdocuments/lgbt_mental_health.pdf

http://www.sutr.ca/sutr_pdf/Language_Support_LGBT_Youth.pdf

http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2010/11/05/gay_teens_told_it_gets_better_stats_reveal_crisis_in_our_schools.html

 

[2] https://www.facebook.com/Erasing76Crimes?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser

 

Helping a Loved One with Depression When Help Seems Impossible

Guest post by Lisa Frederiksen

Depression can be overwhelming and suggesting to a person who is clinically depressed that they need to get out of bed and do something is, well…, insane. It cannot work because depression (major depression) is a brain disease. By its simplest definition, a disease is something that changes cells in a negative way. Depression changes cells in the brain in a negative way, thus it is a one of the many brain diseases that fall under the umbrella designation of mental illness. Given the brain controls everything we think, feel, say and do, treating depression is critical to a person’s quality of life because its critical to their brain’s health. And note the word, “treating.” Often the person with depression has tried medications, seen a therapist and perhaps even joined a gym but still can’t seem to muster the oomph to get up and go workout. But, it’s important to emphasize: depression can most definitely be treated and a person can live a “normal” life, when their disease is treated and managed properly. [Of note before I continue: While this post is about depression, first and foremost, it’s also to share the fact that there is a connection between depression and drugs and alcohol. Often a person with depression will self-medicate the sad, lonely feelings with drugs or alcohol and that works for a while because drugs and alcohol work on the brain’s dopamine pathways. Dopamine is our feel good neurotransmitter. However, in the case of alcohol, it can compound the depression because alcohol is a depressant. Not only that, but mental illness, such as major depression, is one of the five key risk factors for developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, which is also a brain disease.] To help those who struggle with depression or their family members who are in search of help for their loved one, I share the following information on what a person can do when they are depressed and just starting to figure it out or what they can do when they’ve been depressed for some time and have tried everything to no avail.

Confirm An Accurate Understanding of Depression

There are so many places one can read about depression, and of course there are many well-meaning friends willing to offer opinions, as well as medical professionals who don’t have adequate training or the time to fully assess the mental illness and its treatment. I’ve selected the following sources to simplify an initial search so as not to overwhelm you before you start, for as you can imagine, there are scores and many are excellent. With a solid understanding, you are better able to ask questions and insist on answers when meeting with a medical professional. Mayo Clinic – keep browsing through the links in the left column for information on the definition, symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, tests and diagnosis, treatments and drugs, lifestyle and home remedies, alternative medicine, coping and support. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – What is Depression?

Understand Typical Treatment Options

Because no two brains are alike, it stands to reason no two treatment protocols for depression will be alike. However, just as with any other disease, there are typical protocols for evidence-based treatment practices to treat depression. Again, sharing just a few of the many helpful resources to simplify this process, check out: Mayo Clinic – Treatment and Drugs National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) Best Practices Compendium for Serious Mental Illness – Medicaid Health Plans of America Center for Best Practices

Find Support – Get Help

Often one of the best things a person can do is to find support from others who understand, who’ve been where they are now, or to seek information on treatment facility providers. Bring Change 2 Mind National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) SAMHSA Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator

Bottom Line

…there is a way to get help for your depression – even if you’ve tried everything.

 

Lisa Frederiksen is the author of nine books and a national keynote speaker with over 25 years public speaking experience. She has been consulting, researching, writing and speaking on alcohol abuse, drug addiction, secondhand drinking, treatment, mental illness, underage drinking, and help for the family since 2003. Her 40+ years experience with family and friends’ alcohol abuse and alcoholism, her own therapy and recovery work around those experiences, and her research for her blog posts and books, including her most recent –
If You Loved Me, You’d Stop!
Loved One In Treatment? Now What!

Crossing The Line From Alcohol Use to Abuse to Dependence

frame her work with medical school students, families, individuals, students and administrators, businesses, public agencies, social workers, family law attorneys, treatment providers and the like.

To learn more about Lisa and her work, please visit her website, www.BreakingTheCycles.com

 She can also be found on the following social network sites:
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The Age of Unoriginality

Guest Post By Phil Duncan

If one reads through the bestsellers lists, reviews the box office numbers, or peruses the iTunes top digital downloads, she will quickly realize that we live in a culture of unoriginality. Not only that, but also that unoriginality sells, and usually sells big. From the incestuous cross-pollination of the music industry—where a Ziggy Stardust bassline shows up in a top 20 hip-hop jam — to the remakes-ad-nauseum in the cineplexes, one is left wondering if there are any original ideas left in art and media. We have Hansel and Gretel sporting semi-automatics and the Wizard of Oz breaking teenaged hearts; even the seemingly sacrosanct Great Emancipator has been spotted spending his spare time slaying the undead and sanguine addicted. With these constant re-hashings, updatings, and re-explorations, where do we draw the line between imaginative re-imaginings and tired, borderline plagiarisms?

The answer to is: we don’t.

As an author guilty himself of a literary remix, I come to the timid defense of this practice by stating that not only are there not many original stories left, but there really haven’t been since the Greeks ceased setting quill to paper. Even stories heralded as landmarks in creative ingenuity, such as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, feature such overt references to the New Testament that the stories are basically pulled straight from the papyrus. And as for the New Testament itself… exploration of its source material is fodder for another article penned by a smarter person than I.

When I sat down to write my novel Wax, I wanted to re-visit Shelley’s Frankenstein, the original work of the undead. I was growing weary of the mindless, brain-hungry resurrected, and began to feel as though Shelley’s own creation was becoming unfairly lumped into this genre. Ask a teenager what he thinks when Frankenstein is mentioned and his response will likely be something along the lines of a big, green, grunting, flat-topped creature with bolts in its neck. What he — and most others — forget is that the monster of Shelley’s Frankenstein — the original Frankenstein — is an articulate, calculating, oddly well-read monster that juggles quite the gauntlet of existential questions throughout the story. So if Frankenstein has been remade and remixed into something completely different from its source over the last century, I saw it as a worthwhile pursuit to once again re-imagine this story and bring it full circle. Give me a monster pulled from the dead with a brain in his head and I’ll show you the types of problems he encounters.

Am I just as guilty as everyone else? Yes. And I see no issue with this. Because as writers and creators in the digital era, most of us were raised on sampling, remixing, and the ever growing “groupmind.” We don’t see ourselves as unoriginal or as plagiarists. We see our work as adding another facet to an existing mythology; fully exploring toeholds in the source material that were barely touched upon in the original. We’re repurposing the original to raise questions about and to even parody it. And it is through these thoughtful and creative re-imaginings and re-explorations that the purest originality lives today.

Phil Duncan is the author of Wax, a young-adult novel published by RainTown Press, as well as of various short fiction published both in print and online. He is a graduate of Goddard College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and the University of Washington’s English program. Duncan is a former Jacob K. Javits Fellow and recently served as a Creator-in-Residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site-Aoyama in Tokyo, Japan. He currently lives in Portland, OR.

Publicity Coach. Do You Need One?

Okay, your book is out. You are done with the book launch publicity campaign, and are finally settling down after all of the book tours and interviews. So, what now? Will sales keep coming even though the publicity campaign is over? Soon we realize that the answer is no. As we see the sales drop and the ranking number in Amazon go up. But don’t panic. It is true that we need to make the most of the book launch campaign to make up the investment before the title becomes old. But does this mean that we won’t be able to sell the title after its first year? I don’t believe it does. I think it depends on the author’s platform whether or not the title keeps selling. This is where a publicity coach comes in.

Having a publicist is great if you can afford them. But if you are on an indie budget, a publicist would be difficult to keep in your budget beyond the launching campaign. In this case, creative spending on publicity becomes crucial. Having a Publicity coach, if used wisely, doesn’t have to be unaffordable.  Here are some ideas on how to invest in a publicity coach.

1) Find Publicity coaches that you can hire by the hour as well as by packages. Check out what they are all about and contact them to see if they will give you a phone free consultation. Then set up a phone appointment.

2) Before you go on the phone appointment, make a list of things that you want the publicity coach to help you with. It could be brainstorming for promotion ideas, help you with contacting the media for your special events, online publicity campaigns and website maintenance.

3) Once at your phone appointment, make sure you find out how the coach can help you with those tasks, what their fees are and if they can break it into payment plans.

Once you did your homework, you have to make a decision on how to use this information. Will you hire the coach to just do these tasks every time, or will you pay attention and learn as he helps you so that you can do them yourself?

For example, I encounter many first time authors who do not know how to manage their Amazon author central page, and sometimes when I am handling their second or third books, they ask me the same questions about Amazon because they haven’t learned how to manage their.

This is a small example, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. Amazon is the main storefront for most indie authors. If the author can’t manage their Author Central to make it more active by uploading videos, podcasts, events calendars, and even blog entries, they are missing out on a great opportunity for publicity and marketing, as most readers browse and get information about a book from Amazon.

A publicity coach hired to make the most of your storefront to publicize your book would take advantage of all the technology involved so that your main store front always has the latest information to make it possible for a reader or fan to find out about the authors events without going anywhere else. A wise author would pay attention and ask questions as well as give input in order to make the most of Amazon, but also to learn from the coach.

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The Politics of Plot

The Politics of Plot

By David Corbett

One hears a great deal these days about the universal nature of story. It’s a gratifying conceit, that down deep we all share the same fundamental narrative.

But what about the more factional, political nature of story?

I don’t mean the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty or corporate cunning in Promised Land. I mean the intrinsically political nature of how character is portrayed and plot structured.

It’s in the conception of human nature — specifically, what human beings can know and accomplish — that the political worm burrows itself into the narrative apple. And plot is merely the dramatic structuring of what the characters come to understand and do.

The closer a story hews to the idea of man as having a true nature, a destiny — a soul — and the more heavily the hero relies on certainty of purpose and strength of will to fulfill his ambition, the more pleasing it will be to conservative audiences.

Think of the Aeneid, or any heroic saga, as the archetype, including the chivalric romance and its modern avatar, the detective story.

Duty calls. The hero answers. An encounter with death — physical, moral, emotional, professional — clarifies the stakes. The question at the heart of the matter is: What will it take to prevail?

Most such stories stage the conflict with an external force or opponent, and though the adversary need not be conspicuously evil, few conservatives will complain if he is. Moral ambiguity favors the weak.

On the other hand, the more human nature is seen as intrinsically contradictory, fragmented, self-deceived — afflicted with what Conrad called man’s “miserable ingenuity in error” — the more it will appeal to liberal audiences. The will, so dear to conservatives, is inherently suspect, contaminated by hubris. All too many victories are pyrrhic. It’s insight that saves the day, if it arrives in time. Often it doesn’t. Ask Oedipus. Or Jake Gittes.

Many such stories stage the conflict internally, between a false, self-destructive self and a healthier, more honest — truer, if not exactly “true” — self. The main action typically concerns the struggle against a convenient lie in favor of a difficult truth — often about oneself. The hero is less warrior than searcher, and the story ends in wisdom, not victory. The narrative in one way or another asks: Who am I?

Such stories were far more in vogue in the heyday of psychoanalysis. Chinatown’s tragic pessimism concerning human understanding echoes not just Sophocles but Freud.

Not that conservatives fail to understand the capacity for human error or the darkness of our natures. Quite the contrary; evil doesn’t work in a vacuum.

But stories that appeal most to conservatives normally focus on the hero overcoming, not just recognizing, his limitations. Temptation is to be confronted, not explored. Vacillation demonstrates weakness, and the core thematic pulse to stories that lean right is the necessity of moral strength and purposeful conviction. Doubt is disaster.

Virtues may be hard won, but they can’t be ignored. A little sin is excusable until the end of Act Two. Then strap on your six-guns — or your moral clarity — and get on with it.

To which any liberal worthy of the name would promptly respond: It’s never that simple.

Of course, blatant politicking is a great way to alienate at least half your potential audience, which is why embedding the message in plot can be the savvier move.

It can also provide a way to hedge your bets, and craftily broaden your story’s appeal.

Take two of last year’s Oscar darlings as examples:

Argo presents a fundamentally conservative plot — the hero accepts personal responsibility for rescuing the vulnerable few from both murderous zealots and the indifference of a feckless bureaucracy (the Carter Administration, no less) — but bookends that plot with an indictment of American policy at the beginning, and President Carter speaking for himself at the end.

And for all the left’s hand-wringing over Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers pulled their right hook at the very end, when Maya (Jessica Chastain) sits alone in the C-130 that will take her “home.” The tear may feel gratuitous — having served out vengeance, perhaps, she can at last indulge her grief — but her isolation is absolute. Possibly she’s wondering if it was actually worth it. Revenge never brings back the dead. But there’s no doubt that her mission, her obsession, her reason for being, has reached its end. What else might she be asking herself except: Who am I?

All stories concern men and women making choices, taking action, and suffering consequences, This implicitly conveys a moral perspective. And since politics is the public arena of morality, every story is political, regardless of how deftly its author tries to disguise that fact.

David Corbett’s latest book, The Art of Character, is the ultimate guide to creating captivating characters. He has worked as a private investigator for 15 years before becoming the widely acclaimed author of The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar, and named both one of the Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers of 2007 by the Washington Post and a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book), and Do They Know I’m Running? (Spinetingler Award, Best Novel 2011 — Rising Star Category). David has taught at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, 826 Valencia, Chuck Palahniuk’s LitReactor, the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and at numerous writing conferences across the U.S.

Mouthing Off: The Importance of Word-of-Mouth to Debut Authors

Guest Post by Kimberly Packard

If you’ve just returned home from a long stint on a desert island, welcome home. Let me get you up to speed: Dallas is back, but our beloved J.R. is gone; we still don’t have flying cars; and Lady Gaga was not a figment of our imagination. And, if you’ve just returned and you’re a writer: everything you knew about publishing before has changed. Drastically.

Just a few years ago, debut authors with a marketing budget relied on their publishing houses to send them on whirlwind media tours to do guest appearances on morning talk shows, lunch with book reviewers from the daily papers and spend their evenings meeting adoring fans at local book stores.

Sure, some debut authors do still have the opportunity for this jet-setting lifestyle, but your chances of winning the lottery and getting swept off your feet by a prince are much greater. The industry consolidation has fueled the rise of Indie publishers, which in-and-of itself has major potential for up and coming authors, but the downside is the lack of the blockbuster budget.

So, what’s a debut author with an Indie publishing house to do?

The answer is easy. Mouth off.

I’m not talking about the kind of mouthing off that would get you chomping down on a bar of soap. I mean word of mouth. I consider myself to be one of the fortunate Indie authors. When I signed my contract for my debut novel Phoenix with Goodmedia Press late last year, I not only had a marketing-savvy publisher in my corner, but I also brought to the table many years of marketing and PR experience. But, the hurdle I had to get over was thinking of myself as the client, and give myself the advice given to my clients.

Think about the last time you heard about a good book. How did you find out about it? Perusing a book store? Maybe, if there is one within a 20-mile radius. Clicking through an online bookstore? Sure, but where to start? A trusted friend? More than likely, you’ll agree with this.

In the PR world, we tell clients that word of mouth is invaluable—both negative and positive. But, for the
sake of this blog, we’re going to focus on the positive, because we all wrote Pulitzer-worthy novels, right?

Think about Facebook. You may see an ad for a product and chances are, you scroll right past it. But, you’re best friend from high school posts something about the same product and raves about how it changed her life. What do you do? Run right out to the store and buy it.

Books are no different, and in a changing industry where bookstores are closing Indie authors must rely on word of mouth publicity to get their names out there. So, easily said, but how do you do it?

Find your talkers. Think about the conversations you’ve had with your hairdresser, your nail tech, your neighbor. Have books ever come up? If so, give them a copy of your book and don’t be afraid to ask to spread the word if they enjoyed it.

Book clubs are also invaluable tools for spreading word of mouth awareness for your work. I’ve spoken to two since Phoenix came out, and both times I had fun, engaged audiences that wanted to talk about the characters that I love—and turns out they love as well. And the best thing about book clubs, they talk to their non-book club friends about what they’ve read.

On the Interwebs, you can use sites such as Goodreads.com to help spread the word. For no cost, Goodreads will give away copies of your book to their community of readers. Not only is this helpful for getting new eyes—and hopefully new reviews—but it’s great for having your book added to several “to-read” shelves.

Don’t hop that next flight back to the deserted island yet!

Yes, the world is changing for authors, but what it does is give greater control to the author of his or her marketing, which, in turns, makes the authors more accessible to the readers. It can be a bit daunting, but once you start meeting people and realizing that the characters and story you labored over has resonated with them, it makes it worth all the throat lozenges and tea and honey concoctions from all the talking you’ll be doing.

Kimberly Packard is the author of Phoenix, a novel of three people tied together by two crimes committed 10 years and thousands of miles apart. Phoenix is published by Dallas-based Indie publishing house Goodmedia Press, and is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks. Read Kimberly’s blog I Make Stuff Up at www.kimberlypackard.com, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Top 5 Online Resources for Science Fiction Writers

Guest Post by Erica Verrillo

Of all the fiction genres, sci-fi – aka speculative fiction – stands as the one least likely to inspire a casual encounter. Sci-fi buffs are die-hards. That’s because sci-fi authors are required not just to do world-building, but to do universe-building. That’s real escapism. Traditionally, a background in science has been virtually mandatory for sci-fi writers, and there are still many sci-fi magazines that require a strong scientific element in their published stories. But, as the concept of “science” has marched on to include not just the “hard sciences” (notably, physics and biology) but the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, history, and, to a certain extent, linguistics), sci-fi has matched pace. At this point, the subgenres are almost too numerous to name: cyberpunk, steampunk, apocalyptic, dystopian, space opera, spy-fi, and, of course, anything written by a woman. (For decades, sci-fi has been an all-male club.) Naturally, such a variety allows for considerable leeway, not just in what may be considered sci-fi, but how to write it. There is perhaps no other genre that has encompassed such a broad range of writing styles and voice.

How lucrative is the sci-fi market? It’s hard to say. Compared to romance novels, which generate a huge amount of revenue, sci-fi is a country cousin. But, what the sci-fi market lacks in big bucks, it makes up in sheer rebellion. Recently, Hugh Howey sold the print rights to his underground sci-fi hit, Wool, to Simon & Schuster for a “mid-six-figure” advance. Howey turned down “multiple” seven-figure advances because he’d already raked in over a million dollars of royalties from his self-published eBook. And Howey isn’t the only word-of-mouth wonder in the sci-fi world. This is a genre that thrives in the dark, subterranean alleys of the net, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no man has gone before.

These sites will help you on your mission.

1) Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction
http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/other.htm

There aren’t many institutions of higher learning that offer programs in science fiction. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas is, to our great delight, one of them. Their vision is stated clearly and unequivocally on their home page: “We are working to save the world through science fiction! To help achieve this, we have built a comprehensive program to serve SF students, educators, scholars, and fans, and through this extend the influence of this literature of change and the human species onto the world at large.”

You may think it doesn’t get much better than saving the world, but it does. Their resources list is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. Here you will find websites for writers, teaching and scholarly resources, awards, magazines, review sites, anthologies, fandom, blogs, artists, conferences, author websites, and more. When you are done browsing this site, I guarantee you will feel as if you are not in Kansas anymore.

2) SFsite
http://www.sfsite.com/

If you are going for sheer quantity this is a site that has reams of it: book reviews, opinion pieces, author interviews, fiction excerpts, author and publisher reading lists, a comprehensive list of links to author and fan tribute sites, sci-fi conventions, sci-fi TV and movies, magazines and e-zines, writer resources, publishers and small press sites, and many other sci-fi resources. For researching your competition, nothing beats this site.

3) Links to Science Fiction Websites
http://www.meet-matt-browne.com/main-more-scifi.html

This page features a very long list of sci-fi sites (over 300). It is not as well organized, or as broad in scope, as the Gunn Center’s page, but there is a greater focus on contemporary sci-fi magazines, fan pages, and review sites, which makes this list quite useful to those trying to get stories published.

4) Top 50 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels Blogs
http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/scifi_&_fantasy_novels

I always include this blog list in my “Top 5” posts no matter what the genre, because this is simply the best blog list out there. There isn’t a blog on this list you shouldn’t read. That being said, start at the top and work your way down. (You will notice that SFsite is at the top. There’s a reason for that.) The advantages of reading good blogs about your genre (and others) are almost too numerous to list- great writing tips, the latest news, reviews, entertaining stories, all the industry scuttlebutt – but essentially all these benefits boil down to one thing: you will not know what is going on in your field unless you read these blogs. Being up to date is something all agents and publishers expect of writers.

5) Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
http://www.sfwa.org/

SFWA is the professional organization for authors of science fiction and fantasy. Past and present members include Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, and Andre Norton. It goes without saying that if you join SFWA, you will be in good company.

In their own words: “SFWA informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for its members. We host the prestigious Nebula Awards, assist members in legal disputes with publishers, and administer benevolent funds for authors facing medical or legal expenses. Novice authors benefit from our Information Center and the well-known Writer Beware site.

SFWA Membership is open to authors, artists, editors, reviewers, and anyone else with a professional involvement with sci-fi or fantasy. Affiliate membership is $70 a year. Professional membership is $90.

Erica Verrillo is the author of three middle reader fantasies: Elissa’s Quest, Elissa’s Odyssey, and World’s End (Random House). She also writes medical reference books. Her most recent book is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide, 2nd Edition. Visit her at http://www.ericaverrillo.com and at http://www.cfstreatmentguide.com/

Caged Up: Rethinking Crime & Punishment

Guest Post by Robyn Short, goodmedia press publisher

The United States is often referred to as “the leader of the free world.” This great nation is known as the “home of the free and the brave,” and yet, the U.S. imprisons more of its own people than any other nation in the world. The United States comprises less than five percent of the world’s population, but almost 25 percent of the world’s prisoners1. For every 100,000 Americans there are 743 individuals incarcerated. For perspective, our British friends’ incarceration ratio is 154:100,000.2 Most recent data show that we currently have 2.3 million people locked up in cages in the United States.3 And, if all of this is not disturbing enough, the Innocence Project estimates that two to five percent of the people in prison are actually innocent of the crime for which they are convicted. This may sound like a small enough number, but when you calculate two to five percent of 2.3 million people, we are talking about 50,000 to 125,000 human beings — innocent men and women living in six by 10 cages for decades and often for life.

So, what exactly is a human cage? In his forthcoming book, The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas Prisons co-authored with Dr. Betty Gilmore, Nanon Williams, who is currently serving his 21st year of a life sentence for a murder he did not commit when he was 17, describes it as a stifling hot, 60 square-feet concrete box so far removed from humanity that the concept of “absolute nothingness” seems to take on its own living, breathing existence. Williams is describing solitary confinement, a “housing status” prison officials use for both convenience and punishment. And there is the extreme opposite — the dormitories. Prison dormitories are human warehouses where hundreds of men are housed on three-tiered bunk beds all lined up in neat little rows that more closely resemble a WWII concentration camp than a college dormitory (which is what the word brings to mind). The middle of the road cage is a six by 10 enclosure where two grown men live out their days. Imagine being innocent of the crime for which you are accused and convicted and living in a room smaller than most American bathrooms with a convicted felon for your entire life. This is where the 50,000 to 125,000 innocent Americans live … for decades.

For reasons far too complex for this article, the United States has steadily been caging up more and more Americans and seemingly throwing away the keys. Our judicial system is far too quick to incarcerate and painstakingly slow to parole and release, much less overturn wrongful convictions. A nation who leads the entire world in incarceration has no ability to call itself “the leader of the free world.” As Americans, we must either rethink our national identity, or rethink crime and punishment.

1Liptak, A. (2008, April 23). U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations. New York Times.
Retrieved March 21, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/americas/23iht-23prison.12253738.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

2 WebCite query result. (2011, March 24). WebCite Query Result. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from http://www.webcitation.org/5xRCN8YmR
3 NAACP (Fact Sheet). (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2013, from NAACP website: http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet

Robyn Short is the author of Prayers for Peace and is the founder of goodmedia press and goodmedia communications. She is a student of A Course in Miracles, a self-study system of spiritual psychotherapy. Robyn is a passionate believer in peace and social justice. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Auburn University, a Masters of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University and will graduate with
a Masters in Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution from Southern Methodist University in 2014.

Top Five Sites For Mystery/Thriller Writers

Guest Post by Erica Verrillo

 

 

One of the chief advantages of writing mysteries is that you can actually make a living at it. Usually, mysteries are published in series. Once you have established an engaging main character and a perfect setting (according to Bowker, Americans like their mysteries set in “the misty bogs of Scotland and London’s Trafalgar Square” – but New York or Rome will do in a pinch) you are in business forever. Because human beings are hunters at heart, there is an insatiable demand for whodunnits. Roughly 48% of those who purchased novels last year bought mysteries.

 

Whether you are just starting your career as a mystery writer, or have a book or two under your belt, these should be the top sites to put on your “favorites” list.

 

1) The Mystery Writers Forum

http://www.zott.com/MysForum/links.htm#Agents & Publishers

 

The Mystery Writers Forum is a little peculiar looking, but it is the most useful site I’ve found for researching a mystery or crime novel. Some of the goodies you will find on this site are: forensics (everything from fingerprints to poison to forensics to photography), handwriting analysis, law links to law libraries, journals and internet resources, organizations, police procedure, DNA analysis, print publishers, ebook publishers, short story publishers, writing resources, and a long list of review sites. You can even consult a cop (for a fee) if you want firsthand information from someone in the trenches.

 

Special feature: The “Find a Death” link will take you to a site listing the deaths of celebrities – always useful fodder for a crime novel. Sadly, the link to the Mafia home page is broken.

 

2) Stop You’re Killing Me

http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/

 

This site lists over 4,100 authors, with chronological lists of their books (over 46,000 titles), both series (4,700+) and non-series, which you can search alphabetically or through specialized indexes: diversity, historical, genre, job, and location. The site also features a comprehensive list of mystery/thriller awards with archives going back to 1988. New hardcover, paperback, and audio book releases are listed by the month, which makes this is a great resource for researching your competition. Stop You’re Killing Me also hosts giveaways. This is a great place to have your book reviewed!

 

3) Sisters in Crime

http://www.sistersincrime.org/

 

What a fabulous organization! Sisters in Crime offers an enormous list of mystery websites. The resource section on the website includes a helpful book publishing glossary. Membership dues are a mere $40 annually for an author pursuing a career in mystery writing, a bookseller, a publisher, a librarian, an editor or anyone who has a business interest in promoting the purposes of Sisters in Crime, Inc. Membership includes:

 

  • inSinC, a quarterly 16-page newsletter 

  •  Sisters in Crime listserv, including special guests on “Mentor Mondays”

  • Regional chapters, including The Guppies, a support and critique group for unpublished writers

  • Website link to titles by Sisters in Crime authors via WorldCat, a global catalog of library collections

  • An institutional presence at national and regional book events, mystery conferences and festivals with opportunities for individual author participation and/or distribution of promotional materials

  • An ongoing mystery review project that monitors media coverage of female and male authors

  • Our blog written by board members and other distinguished SinC members

  • Our monthly “SinC Links”—a digest of “news you can use” about the mystery business

  • New Sisters in Crime interactive map to find SinC authors and their most recent titles

  • Discounts for Members in 2013 – Gotham Writing Workshops and Writers’ Police Academy

  • Reports from SinC’s annual publishers summit

  • Networking, mentoring, and fun

 

3) Blog Rank Top 50 Mystery Novels Blogs

http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/Mystery_Novels

 

If you want to locate the top 50 blogs for just about any genre, go straight to Blogrank. This service ranks blogs according to the number of unique visitors, RSS feeds, Alexa ranking, and monthly visitors, all of which is useful information if you are looking for a high-profile site to submit a guest post. Aside from offering venues to increase your visibility, these blogs offer valuable insights into the

publishing world, the latest industry trends, and, of course, great tips from top mystery writers.

 

5) Mystery Writers of America

http://www.mysterywriters.org/

 

Mystery Writers of America is the leading association for professional crime writers in the United States. Founded in 1945, MWA presents the Edgar® Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre.

 

Membership is open to professional writers in the crime/mystery/suspense field whose work has been published or produced in the U.S., and who reside in the U.S. (special memberships are offered to those living abroad); agents, attorneys, booksellers, editors, reviewers, librarians, journalists, and publicists. Dues for all categories of membership are $95.00 per year.

 

The MWA website features an extensive list of author newsletters, author blogs, and an extremely useful list of over 150 approved publishers (including periodicals and ezines).

 

Erica Verrillo is the author of three middle reader fantasies: Elissa’s Quest, Elissa’s Odyssey, and World’s End (Random House). She also writes medical reference books. Her most recent book is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide, 2nd Edition. Visit her at http://www.ericaverrillo.com and at http://www.cfstreatmentguide.com/

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