Sunday, January 26, 2014

Poetry Acceptance

I am delighted to announce that one of my poems - Silence is Golden - has been selected to appear in an exceptional magazine, Shot Glass Journal...A division of Muse-Pie press.
(Muse-Pie Press, founded in the early 80s by R.G. Rader, has been known for the publication of award-winning poetry and poets and has developed a reputation for being open to all styles and genres of the poetic voice, including haiku, experimental work, spoken word poetry and confessionalist, narrative, academic, philosophical, formalist, or other contemporary styles and genres. If it is good poetry, with technical proficiency and emotional appeal, Muse-Pie takes it seriously.)
Thank you to Shot Glass Journal for a wonderful opportunity.
For further details about Muse-Pie Press, click the link on the right (poetry acceptance).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Piracy


This week, my blog touches on something of a rather personal nature. Something that is – sadly – becoming more pandemic with each passing year.
Copyright piracy.
I live in a part of the world where theft is the norm. Seriously! At home, I have an extensive DVD and CD collection, compiled over the years and lovingly cherished. You’ll seldom find such a thing in Greece. Instead, they are armed with the very latest hard drives that contain thousands upon thousands of pirated films and songs. DVD Rips, High Quality/low quality, handmade discs and shaky old camcorder copies.
When I’ve questioned this attitude, I’m often looked at as if I’ve got something horrifically slimy and contagious crawling across my face toward my bottom lip. I hear comments like;
“Why should I pay for it when I can get it free?”
“It’s not harming anyone. Why shouldn’t I download it for nothing?”
“The XXX companies make a lot of money; they’re not going to miss it.”
“The singer/author/actor isn’t going to miss what they never had.”
They often laugh, and take pleasure in telling me how crafty the illegal sites are at avoiding prosecution.
Sound familiar?
I wonder how insulted they would feel if I were to stroll into their home, their shop or place of business, and simply removed something because I liked the look of it.
“Stop! Police!”
“No, it’s okay. I can’t be bothered to spend my money actually buying it, so I’m just downloading it for free.”
I don’t think that would work, do you?
As fellow authors can appreciate, when you write a story, you put your heart and soul into it. It’s your time. Your energy. Your focus and intellectual creativity. Whether your project is long or short, it’s still the same.
The fastest short story I have written so far was Blood-Moon, and that’s completely understandable. It’s a paranormal story with a strong military basis. I was writing about a subject I know intimately. So from the time I put my fingers to the keyboard until I actually sent it off for consideration, (checks and self-editing included) only ten days had passed.
My novels are a different story. (Excuse the pun).
I research them for weeks and months at a time to ensure they’re either factual, or based on factual theory. Then I write out a rough plan of how I want them to develop. Then I start writing. That takes months.
Now, I’m not a well known author, so like many other writers I know, I have to support my family by going out to work. When I come home, instead of being able to spend time relaxing, I’m effectively slogging away on a second shift on my current novel. It can be mentally and emotionally draining, not only for me, but the rest of my family too, who miss out on my company.
So, imagine my delight this week when a fellow author spotted quite a few pieces of my work (and other fellow writers) on a number of Free Pirate Sites.
What particularly annoyed me was the fact that thousands – yes, thousands – of downloads had gone out. As I mentioned, I’m not all that well known, and can only aspire to the heights of Raymond E Feist, Tad Williams, and George R. R. Martin, to name a few. While a few thousand illegal downloads might not affect their particular rankings all that much...that’s not the point. It’s still theft. And for someone like me who needs every sale they can get, it does affect you quite dramatically. Loss of revenue, loss of registered sales, loss of rankings, loss of publicity. (You’d be amazed the wonders getting into a top 100 list can do for your book). That won’t happen if several thousand thieves take what belongs to you, illegally.
And remember, those figures above related to my statistics. My fellow authors also suffered the ignominy of someone helping themselves to work they had poured considerable time and effort into.
Now, I belong to a small independent publisher, Pagan Writers Press. Just imagine the difference a few thousand additional sales would make to those who put their trust in my work in the first place. Multiply that by the amount of other authors on their books that also had their work stolen. Just imagine the benefits my publishers could pass on to my friends and fellow writers with that additional revenue.
You see, it’s not just me this illegal, and quite frankly, distasteful practice is harming. It’s my press. My fellow authors. And my family, don’t forget, who’ve gone without my company for months at a time while I’ve been grafting away. In the end, it also harms you, the loyal reader.
So, what am I trying to say?
Basically...It doesn’t really matter how a thief tries to butter it up, only a mindless idiot would truly believe that taking something that doesn’t belong to them – where payment is expected – without paying for it first is okay. Theft is theft. Illegally sharing is counterfeiting. Ruining someone’s professional standing, ranking, popularity and future development by larger houses who are motivated by statistics is simply wrong.
So, please,
If you come across a site that even looks suspicious, please feel free to let the publisher and/or the author know. We’ll be delighted to take a look and ensure the appropriate authorities are notified, and action is taken.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Inch at a Time

As you know, I try to make my blogs fun, informative, friendly and helpful.
This time around, I thought what research could I do to help budding authors, established writers – and myself of course – to be more successful? I’ve touched on this area before, but it’s always good to remind ourselves of the basics so we don’t forget them.
Often, simplicity is the key. Having looked through various sites, I discovered a few common denominators regarding advice that would be useful for us all to remember.

Write One Inch at a Time
I found a brilliant quote from Anne Larnott’s book, Bird by Bird. She advised, “Just write one inch at a time.” Don’t get overwhelmed by the size of the project. Concentrate instead on the goal you have for the day. Soon, your inch turns into feet. Feet into yards. And soon, the project will flowing at its own pace.
Finish the First Draft
You don’t know what you’ve truly got until it’s finished. Remember, no first draft is perfect. Think of it as a vehicle in need of a service or tune. You won’t know what to fix until the entire car is in front of you. Once you start tinkering, your baby will purr like a kitten. Then you can think of sending it off.
Don’t drown people in words. (This is something I really had to take on board). You want your reader to lose themselves in a world of imagination. That means they’ve got to be able to relate to it, and paint their own picture in their own minds. If you make the experience a chore, you’ll lose them. So get the verbal pruning shears out. J
Let there be Death and Heartbreak
Quite a few different sources emphasize the fact that your story needs to have an emotional rollercoaster of some form. It can’t all be a bed of roses. Do you have several main characters? Kill off someone who everybody loves. Give them heartbreak. Stress. A huge obstacle to overcome at which they keep failing. You won’t believe how well it pulls your reader in.
Write with Authority
Look like you mean it. Whatever your subject, do your homework and lay it down like you are the only expert on the subject. (But remember simplify above.) I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever read a story where it’s clear the author knew their stuff...and sadly, where they clearly didn’t.
And while we’re on this point, don’t forget to be yourself! As an author, you have to develop your own voice or style. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the blank tiles. I speak from the heart on this matter. One of my series employs a very risky approach, something practiced by only a few, well established authors. The main character is written in First POV. The other main characters are in Third! Risky business indeed. But do you know what? I did my homework, saw how other authors had employed this technique, and then adapted it to my baby. From reader reactions, it worked like a charm, and has proved to be a popular story.
I’m glad I took a chance and tried it out, as it’s something I’ll definitely look to again in future.
Show up for Work
Don’t treat your writing as a hobby. Something to fill a spare hour, or idle moment. Show up for work. Be there and write like you mean it. You’ll be glad you did, as commitment shines through, and builds your stamina for future projects.
There you go. Not a lot to take on board. And nothing new really. But in researching this blog, I was reminded of a few things I still need to keep on top of. So I hope you find it useful too.
Have a great day now.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Is Rejection a Bad Thing?

Do you remember when we were children and there was something we wanted?
That nice shiny thing under the TV perhaps? “No!” yelled dad.
You toddled into the kitchen. The oven was on. Whatever was inside smelled gooood. You reached toward it. “No!” screamed mom.
Ah, the days when we never took rejection to heart. On some occasions we’d stick our bottom lip out. Other times we’d throw a tantrum. But we never let it get us down. If anything, we probably became even more determined to get our own way.
As writers, we can learn a lot from our respective childhoods, because somewhere along the way, we allowed words and letters to affect us. Our developing maturity somehow severed our ability to bounce back from criticism without getting scarred.
But how much of an “I can’t be bothered” attitude should we strive to recover?
I read an interesting article recently by Jason Comely. It’s based on the premise that rejection – under certain circumstances – can be good for you. Remember, each of us is an individual, uniquely disciplined to handle certain situations in our own way. The older we get the more emotional baggage we tend to collect. How heavy we let that excess become...well, that’s up to us, isn't it?
Jason called his premise: Rejection Therapy.
How does it work?
Here are a few principles.
1.       Actively seeking rejection can help you fear it less.
He suggests that rather than becoming bogged down and overwhelmed by being told; “No!” think of them as a target. So, the more rejections you manage to accrue, the more successful you are.
How can this be good for you? It trains your mind to think differently. Gradually, you tend to stop thinking of the rejections as a hurdle, and more as a door of opportunity.
Seeing the possibility stimulates you to work harder, reach out more, and you lose the fear of hearing or seeing that rejection. Yes, it has the power to make you fearless.
2.       You are motivated to try harder.
Once you stop feeling so sensitive, a natural inclination to work harder kicks in. Fear of rejection is replaced by determination to succeed. It becomes a stimulus toward motivation. To carry on regardless of what others may think or do.
So, what consequence might we see?
3.       That determination spills over into other areas of your life.
If you think about the way life really is, it’s full of rejection. The choice of film you might like to see when you go out. The actual meal your loved one serves at the end of a hard day. Where you all end up on a night out with friends. How much input you contribute to a group discussion when the team “chatterbox” likes to dominate. Even getting someone you really like to go out on a date with you. Rejection is everywhere.
And think about it. Have you ever noticed how thick-skinned people appear to be a lot happier with life? People are attracted to them more, as they don’t throw a Scarlet O’Hara when they don’t get their own way. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
4.       Taking that risk becomes easier.
It’s true to say, the more we become accustomed to doing something, the easier it is.
Have you ever met someone who has complete conviction in their work? But, because they’re so afraid of the concept of rejection, they never put a great idea forward? I’m sure we all have. That’s why is such a good idea to actively seek rejection. The fear of taking a risk in the first place won’t hold you back, and life will be much less stressful.
5.       You start to see the bigger picture.
Jason’s therapy regime doesn’t advocate you don’t need to heed criticism at all. As I found out when I became a writer, some criticism can be constructive. It allows you to open your mind, be honest with yourself, and accept that...“Oh yes, what I did there was rather awful/didn’t make sense/needs to be reworked”, etc, etc.
You start to look at things from a different angle. You don’t take it personally. You stay positive, and use the rejection as something to build on and help fine-tune your future efforts. Basically, by taking the chance early on to set yourself up for a big “No!” – You avoid major disappointments later, when it counts, and use the experience to focus your efforts.
Don’t forget, in many instances – especially in the publishing world – the rejection itself may not be about you, but more about the setting/situation of the person/company who rejected your idea or work.
So there you go. I really enjoyed some of Jason’s thoughts, and I’m sure you will too. How often have we ourselves written to a certain magazine, ezine, etc, with an item/piece of work that makes our chest burst with pride, only to have it rejected, because it didn’t fit with their current theme? Remember, Jason’s view helps us realize...In many instances, they say “No” - not because your work is bad, but because it isn’t suitable for the mood they want to capture.
I’ve noticed this is especially true with poetry publishers, who cycle their ‘themes’ much more frequently than fiction houses. It helped me appreciate how much you need to do your homework beforehand, to ensure you target your work toward the right publisher.
As we enter 2014, why not some of these thoughts into practice, and see how it helps you realize...
YES, this year will be even better than the last.