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1. Interview with Amy Eye of Christmas Lites

Tis the season. For what? For Christmas cheer, sure, but also for important things too. The things that you might not remember, but are still vitally important nonetheless. And that's where Christmas Lites comes in: it's an annual charity anthology, in its third edition, with all proceeds going to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It lets you take care of your gift list, while also doing something important.

The book was organized and edited by the amazing Amy Eye, interviewed below by the illustrious AM Harte. And by "illustrious" I mean she forgot her login to the 1889 site and asked me to post this.

A little about you, first. Do you have any hidden talents?

AE: Not sure if these are really hidden talents or not, but I used to be a dancer as well as teach dance, and I was a vocalist for many choirs back in the day. And I edit books for a living in order to pay the bills. LOL

Tell us about the anthology Christmas Lites III - what kinds of stories can readers expect to find?

AE: Just about everything, really. We have romances, horror, fables, fairy tales, paranormal stories – even one about a kelpie! And of course we have the general fiction Christmas stories as well.  That is one thing I have always been proud of with the Christmas Lites books, there is literally something in there for everyone!

All profits from this anthology go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Why is this cause so important to you?

AE: There are more people out there than you can ever imagine who have suffered from this. And I think it’s a very worthy cause to help people to get back on their feet as well as show them there is hope out there. They aren’t alone, and there are people out there who totally understand what they are going through.

What would you say is the most little known fact about domestic violence?

AE: I would say that it affects so many people. It’s is very often a silent crime. One that many women deal with in shame or suffering alone because they want what is best for their kids financially or maybe because they truly fear for their lives. Whatever the reason, the NCADV gives these women and children HOPE.

Lastly, what question should we have asked you, and why?

AE: “What can the people out there do to help?”

Because we aren’t doing this just so we can say we wrote a book and sold it. We really want to make a difference out there. So, all of you out there, if a Christmas book isn’t up your alley, maybe there is another charity that you can help donate time, effort, or awareness to. Do something to help your fellow man. If this book IS something you are interested in, stop by any of your online retailers and pick it up. Read it, share it, talk about it and maybe go out and be inspired to do something good!



The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing. Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.

Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.

Get it from Kindle US or Kindle UK

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2. Shutterbugs is coming…

Part of my life is about books, part of my life is about technology, and the last part of my life is about TV shows. Way back when, I made RollBots, and it was a fun time. But today I am going to take a quick moment to talk about a new show I co-created, because it just got picked up by a broadcaster here in Canada! Yay!

The show is called Shutterbugs, and it's a preschool property about a group of friends who solve mysteries using observation and critical thinking. There were three of us working on the concept, but for me, it has a kind of personal angle to it.

I've touched on fears before (in Xander and the Wind) but in the last year, my youngest daughter has been struggling with crippling anxiety (due to all the adventures we've been going through in our family). Part of her healing process has been to learn to really understand her problems, to diagnose what they mean, and to put them in perspective. You can have fears, but you don't need to let them conquer you.

When we were kicking around Shutterbugs, that was one of the things I felt was really missing from the preschool space. If we could teach little kids to do this, to stop and think and respond (even if their logic is flawed or their conclusions are off-base), it gives them the tools to deal with whatever problems come their way. Shutterbugs is fun and silly and full of cartoony antics, but I'm hoping that it might also do some good for some kids out there.

So yeah. That's my story. Show #2 is coming to TV! I will throw little updates on the site as we progress through development, because there are concepts in TV that I think are useful and/or curious for novelists... but for now, I am going to bask in the warm glow of my first press release for Shutterbugs.  Yay!

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3. Michael Bay, the True Artist

Since the accident, my wife hasn't been able to look at TV screens for more than a few minutes at a time. Of all the changes that happened around the house, that was maybe the most jarring. We can't go out to dinner anymore, but an absence of an action is fairly easy to digest. It took me almost a year to realize I was paying for cable I didn't need anymore. And so when watching TV became part of her rehab program — we only just made it to 44 minutes with 50% eyes-on-screen time — it was like learning to walk again... you really appreciate the subtleties of the process, in ways you didn't before.

Due to restrictions linked to brain injuries, our outlet of choice has been Netflix. It's easy to play off a laptop at a comfortable distance and brightness, and we can stop at any time and come back the next day right where we left off. And with it brings a type of show we didn't usually watch, because we never subscribed to premium channels: the True Art shows.

Now, in the literary world, I can wrap my head around what makes art, art, and pulp, pulp. Art is the stuff with complexities beyond simple plot, where the characters have knots in them that can't be resolved or even explored in the space of a story. It's the stuff where the quiet moments breathe, and there's craft in the language that just can't fit in a tighter novel. Art is the stuff that can be painfully self-indulgent, because it's the language that counts.

Literary art, I get.

Some of these TV shows, they're held up as high art, but I just don't see a resemblance. The TV equivalent of pulp is "network show", which means flimsy pandering storyline, and easy melodrama. True Art shows are contrasted to that, but while SOME have stories and character development I'd called complex, the vast majority seem to be done by people who have a shaky grasp of storytelling, and try to cover it all up with blood, boobs and swearing.

Yes, I know it's not on regular TV, so you can say the F-word, slice open throats, and have women walk around wearing no tops for absolutely no reason if you want to. And I can appreciate why you'd want to take advantage of that, as a creator: because it's still relatively shocking, and shocking things draw eyeballs. But to pretend that it's somehow a higher form of art is dishonest. These techniques are crass tricks, on par with big explosions in blockbuster movies. And you know what you call movies that have big explosions for absolutely no logical reason, other than to excite? Michael Bay movies.

In art, everything should have a purpose. You can write a story where characters are indiscriminately killed in brutal ways, but it should be in the service of atmosphere: nobody's safe, never let down your guard. You can have endless sex scenes between all kinds of people, because there's emotion there that's being explored — or a lack of emotion, even. You can have characters speak like real people and curse their fucking mouths off, because there's an honesty to it. But exploring the forbidden fruit is not the same as throwing it at the audience for kicks. And we, as an audience, should stop being suckered into applauding it.

That's what TV is becoming. We are gradually becoming a society of people who turn up their noses at less "risky" fare, usually with stronger characters and better writing, to chase after flimsy stuff held together with the intellectual's version of pyrotechnics. Gratuitous ANYTHING is gratuitous, and it does not equate to quality. If it does, Michael Bay is the greatest auteur of our time.

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4. On Melting

Last week, I wrote three whole posts, announcing and then illustrating that I was not dead. And then the temperatures shot up for six days straight, and I believe I actually died, at least in a functional sense. But while I was dead, I had lots of time to think about important creative issues, the topmost on the list being finishing what you started.

I am not tremendously good at this. On my list of things to finish are (in no particular order) Polarity, The Archivists, Fission Chips and the Scarlet Lemming, The New Real 1 & 2, and one other project which shall not be named. Some of those are just quick fix-ups, some are heavy rewrites, and none are going to happen this year, I think. Unless the temperature drops for an extended period of time.

What causes this creative attention deficit disorder? It's painfully simple: creativity melts.

Every project you start is an ice cube. At the start, you've got a big-ass ice cube, perfectly square, and it cools the room around it, just by existing. That's the project you have in your mind, the one that makes you want to get out of bed and start doing things. When people ask "What are you working on?" you think of that, even if there are a dozen other things further along.

But what happens is the ice starts melting, and almost immediately. You write your first paragraph, and you think it could be better — the edges round a bit on the cube. You finish a chapter and wonder if you picked the right starting point — there's the tiniest of puddles around the ice. You realize you are writing yourself into a place where your Big Twist can't happen the way you wanted — and the cracks appear.

In no time at all, you're looking at something that feels like an inferior copy of what you were working at. You realize you're never going to live up to your own expectations, and it makes you pause, step back, and think of other options.

Some people react by sticking the ice cube in the freezer, vowing to come back to it when the time is right. Some people excel at scheduling a slice of time every day to take the ice cube out, work away at it, and then put it back before too much damage can be done. Some people climb inside the freezer with it, and work until their hands go numb. This often requires strong coffee and/or alcohol.

But no matter which method you employ, the ice cube is going to look different than you intended. And if you're not careful, it will eventually pass the Meh Threshold, whereupon it will not seem worth the effort anymore. All you'll see is the melting of the ice, and the sorry state of your creation.

This is the ultimate danger. Once you reach this stage, it is far too easy to put the ice cube back in the freezer and not touch it ever again. Better to save it than let it melt away forever.

I do this a lot. Worse yet, I have ice cubes in pairs: the sorry state, and a perfect cube that never leaves the cold, both telling the same story. All I need to do is find a way to transfuse the essence of one into the other and... and...

Creativity melts if you're not careful. So the question is: how do you keep your ideas from melting?

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5. Free Pigs

Seven years ago today, I released my first real book. At the time, a group called Access Copyright was rolling out a brainwashing campaign aimed at children, and it made me kinda cranky. So I threw together a story about a pig who finds a magic bucket, and rather than using it for good, tries to restrict its use for his own benefit... and things go wrong. An anti-DRM fable, if you will.

It was called The Pig and the Box.

Now, while Access Copyright's campaign crashed and burned, the Pig book — and I'm horn-tooting for a second here — thrived. Downloaded millions of times, translated into more languages than I knew existed, given away at conferences, at schools... all kinds of wacky stuff. I've received more mail about this book than anything else I've ever done.

But I always knew there was more to this story. Something... mysterious...

I like experiments. I like doing things that are somewhat off the beaten path, out in the darkened underbrush where scary things hide. If I don't frolic in the poison mist every so often, bad things happen. Usually to this website.

Anyway, back to the point.

What is the purpose of copyright? Easy enough: to allow creators to exploit their work, exclusively, for a period of time. I write the Pig book, and I am the only one allowed to earn money off the Pig for a little while. After I've had my go at it, the book becomes part of the public domain, where others can build on it, and make our common culture a little better. It makes a kind of obvious sense. Good work, copyright law-writing people!

The thing that always irked me about copyright was the timing. Going by US standards, the original term for copyright was 14 years, which could be extended by another 14 years by the creator. Over the years, that standard has changed, to the point where I believe copyright is now pegged at the lifetime of the creator + the conceivable existence of the Walt Disney Corporation. Plus some other random number that is never less than 100.

Which is to say: copyright is broken. We are now actively trading our collective cultural legacy in favour of shareholder value for a handful of insanely-rich companies. It's not as if the creators themselves are actually benefiting from the new state of affairs, because these same companies usually acquire all the necessary rights to ensure the creators only get a sliver of profits  — after expenses, of course.

Wow, sorry, I got lost on a tangent for a second. Let's continue.

When I published the Pig book, I decided that I was going to limit my own copyright period, since the law has absolutely no self control. 14 years seemed long to me, mostly because I live on Internet time, where a week is a year, and a year is how long Google lets its services survive before sunsetting them. I decided to halve that number, which is why I ended up with today, seven years from publication.

My theory is that the Pig book's active life has come to an end, and it is at risk of stagnation. After a certain amount of time, and a decent downward trend in sales (nearing zero, that is), the benefit of my controlling this Pig is vastly outweighed by the benefit of an unencumbered Pig to the rest of society. There's nothing to stop me from selling copies of the book, but now we multiply that creative and economic stimulus by however many new people are now able to participate as well.

In other words: in terms of creating opportunity for wealth, the Pig can do more good without me watching over it.

I think this is the case with a lot of art, with creators confusing tiny flecks of pride and ego with principles and rights. After a certain point, there's no real value in holding on so tight. It doesn't mean you failed, it means you want to see where your art goes next. We call these books our "babies", but would you sit on your kid's shoulders their entire life, refusing to let them make a decision without your permission? It's not only creepy, it's counterproductive.

Art wants to be free. It's just a question of timing.

Therefore: The Pig and the Box is now public domain. You may take it (and/or bits of it) and do whatever you like. Publish your own version, re-draw everything from scratch, translate it into Martian, write sequels, prequels or reboots starring Johnny Depp. I am not only fine with it, I am looking forward to seeing what you do. Especially if you get Nicolas Cage to play the Pig. Then I will love you forever.

"BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?" you say. Very suddenly, I might add. And it's a valid point: if I give up my right to exclusively exploit the Pig, I am depriving my heirs of lots of money that they will need to survive. Copyright lasts beyond the lifetime of the creator in part to enrich their estate after they're gone. Except... that's kind of insulting to my kids, don't you think? What, you think they're too stupid to earn their own money? Let me tell you: they're much smarter than I am. They aren't going to need to spend their whole lives protecting my legacy, just so they can put food on the table. I'm raising capable girls here, not self-important name-dropping parasites.

But back to business.

If you are interested in disassembling the Pig book for yourself, I have made it somewhat easier than brain surgery. Visit The Pig and the Box page and you should see a variety of downloads. I have zipped up all the original Illustrator files, along with the PNG exports, the cover, and of course the text of the book in an RTF. I apologize in advance for the crap state of the Illustrator stuff in particular... I'm not an artist. And it was 2006. Which was... er... like the 60s or something. Tra la la...

Two last notes... first, the question some of you are probably asking now: does this mean ALL my books are about to become public domain? The answer is: possibly. Typhoon will likely stay locked up until I finish the Dustrunners series, but a book like The Vector is standalone, so it can join the Pig when its seven years are up. I have a seven-year extension available, remember, and I am quite confident I can convince myself of the merits of my application, should the need arise.

Lastly: I apologize for the sloppy execution of this release. I had intended to make a bigger deal of it, to really prepare all the various files, and celebrate the seventh anniversary properly. Unfortunately, medical disasters have complicated matters, to the point where I thought I might miss the date entirely. Thank god for coffee.

This is an imperfect anniversary, but it's still important. And hey, with a little luck — and a whole lot of crazy — it might just be the start of something amazing.

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6. We Had Stars Once

There are a whole lot of crazy people in the world, but all the BEST crazy people tend to live at io9.com. It's where I did The New Real a few years ago, and it's one of the few sites I read religiously, just because it never fails to entertain.

But it's not just the writers there that are astounding. The community itself does things that would shock and amaze you. For instance: they have this thing called Thursday Tales, where they post flash fiction every Thursday. I mean, that's the kind of thing the webfiction world does, but it's rarely so centralized, so tied to a community that wasn't explicitly formed for writing.

So how can they make it even cooler? By releasing an anthology of Thursday Tales writing, in book form. It's called We Had Stars Once, and what a book it is! Have you seen the cover? Here, look at the cover. Just look at it:

And the goodness doesn't stop there. Every last story is great. You need to read them all. Now, preferably.

If you want to grab a copy of We Had Stars Once, there are multiple options. I myself would recommend the snazzy hardcover, but there's also a paperback, and even Kindle version out there. And be sure to check the WHSO Facebook page for more info.

This is what the internet is all about. I expect you all to do something at least half as cool before the end of the year.

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7. Aloha (again)

There's an old proverb that goes: "Oops, I did it again."

Wise words. Very wise words.

Once upon a time, I revamped this website every 15 minutes. An idea would strike me, and I would code furiously through the night until I could release something that... well... nobody liked. But it was about innovation, dammit! Innovation!

This new website that you are looking at now, this sucker was a bit slower in the making. Not because I was being intelligent or methodical, mind you. I started this in November 2012, and have been chipping away at it in my spare time — usually at 3am, after long days of medical appointments and freelance gigs — trying to get it ready. It's still not quite ready, but I have some immovable deadlines coming up, and I need to get this out.

There's more to this than just a new site, though. It's about my returning to the land of the living, and getting back to basics. Let me take you on a (brief) journey, if you will...

I'm sure most of you know by now about my wife's accident, and the agonizingly slow recovery we're going through. Situations like these don't resolve quickly or easily, and they have the effect of completely disassembling your life in the most miserable way imaginable. But the bright side of being disassembled is that you get to really investigate what it is that makes you tick. You get to decide if you like yourself or not.

What I discovered is that I miss being crazy. I miss doing the things that nobody else is stupid enough to try, not because it makes good business sense, but because there is an untouched piece of thinkspace out there that needs defiling. I have (oddly) built my career on being foolishly impulsive, and the only thing, in all these years, that's slowed me down... is my wife's apparent propensity for traffic-surfing.

(It's ok... we do the dark humour thing a lot these days)

So what does this mean? I don't know. I have a lot of ideas, and I'm inclined to try them out one by one until something explodes. I've got nothing left to lose. I spent the last year trying to do the sensible thing, the responsible thing, to keep myself from hitting bottom. But now that I'm at the bottom... well, sensible stuff is useless, so let's be a little senseless. Kamikaze innovation.

If you're up for it, please stick around. If you have stopped sticking around, please come back. If you were never here, I don't know how you're reading this, but all the same: let's do some silly things together.

It might hurt a little, but nowhere near as much as the criticisms I'll get about this redesign :(

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8. Camelot: Unbound

Yes, we are up to no good again.

We - along with some other excellently amazing people - are involved in this.

Think King Arthur. Except ironpunk.

It will be the best game you ever play.

We can't say more for the moment but if you know which way to put your socks on, you'll head over to Camelot Unbound RIGHT NOW and sign up for updates.

Because you don't want to be the last one to hear about this project. Trust us.

(Psst! See the counter at the bottom of the page? When it hits 500, another piece of the puzzle will be revealed...)

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9. Adventures in E-Publishing

by Annette Gisby

My first ebook, a short story and novella collection, Shadows of the Rose, was published by Double Dragon in the early 2000's, long before the Kindle was a glint in someone's eye and the iPad hadn't been thought of yet. When it was first out a lot of people wanted to know when it was available as, you've guessed it, a real book.

Now, ten to twelve years later, Kindles, iPads and other readers such as the Sony and the Nook are household names and now people ask me if my work is available as an ebook! With the rise of self-publishing platforms like Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing, authors are more in control of their writing than ever before.

Some of my work is with publishers, some of it I have self-published, but they all have one thing in common, they are all available as ebooks. The rise of Smashwords and Kindle Direct has enabled writers to sell short stories electronically, when before the only options were to submit to magazines, who may or may not have accepted them. Then there was erotica, and a lot of traditional magazines and publishers didn't want erotica.

I had written an M/M fantasy romance novel called The Chosen and sent it off to quite a few e-publishers. Some of them wanted me to add more sex, some wanted me to have less sex in it and some weren't that keen on same-sex romances. It found a home in 2010 with Lyrical Press, who wanted it as is, I didn't have to add more sex just for the sake of it, which I was very pleased about. The way it was written, I thought the love scenes flowed within the context of the narrative and I was afraid that if I added more love scenes, they would just look tacked on and not really flow with the story.

The Chosen was my last novel for a while, in 2011 after four years of unexplained dizziness, I finally got to see a balance specialist and I was diagnosed with migraine associated vertigo. A lot of things can trigger the vertigo, it might be food, flashing lights or loud noises and computer screens/television. It also plays havoc with your memory and concentration so I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate on completing a full-length novel for quite some time. This is where e-publishing saved me once again, you don't just have to write novels, some people like short stories too and I have self-published a few using Smashwords and Kindle Direct.

Pink Petal Books/Jupiter Gardens Press is giving one of my older novels, Drowning Rapunzel a new electronic lease of life this year too. It's been revised and extended since that first edition way back when and I'm pleased that with e-publishing, you can give some of your back list a new lease of life and perhaps get more readers who've never seen it first time around.

About Annette Gisby

Annette Gisby grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland, moving to London when she was seventeen. She writes in multiple genres and styles, anything from romance to thriller or erotica to horror, even both at the same time.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cinema, theatre and travelling the world despite getting travel sick on most forms of transport., even a bicycle. Sometimes you might find her playing Dragon Quest or The Sims computer games and watching Japanese Anime. She lives in Hampshire with her husband, a collection of porcelain dolls, cuddly toys and enough books to fill a library. It's diminishing gradually since the advent of ebooks, but still has a long way to go.

Find her online at Website | Goodreads | Romance Novel Center | The Romance Reviews

This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

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10. The Poetry Matters Project

Hello! I’m Gabriel Gadfly, 1889’s “resident poet,” as my colleagues like to say. April is National Poetry Month is the US, and, as is often the way of the online world, you could say it’s Poetry Month for the Internet, too!

There are tons of great poetry-related projects happening this month across the world. There’s NaPoWriMo — a writing challenge that tasks authors to write 30 poems in 30 days. There’s Record-a-Poem, a Soundcloud-based project by the Poetry Foundation that asks people to submit recordings of their favorite poems. There’s the Big Poetry Giveaway, a project that asks bloggers and poets to give away two poetry books this month.

There’s also Poetry Matters, a little project of my own. A few weeks ago, a poet I admire Tweeted that she was sad and discouraged that poetry didn’t seem to matter to anyone anymore. It surprised me — my readers have always shared with me how important poetry is to their lives. If talented and successful poets felt like their work didn’t matter to anyone, maybe the problem wasn’t that poetry isn’t important to people — maybe it was that those people had just never been given the chance to talk about why and how poetry mattered to them.

Poetry Matters is a little nudge in that direction — the project is a collection of short videos from students and poets and teachers and people from all walks of life who just love reading poetry, and it asks the question Why Does Poetry Matter To You? For some, poetry is tied to fond nostalgia — memories of a first cherished book, or a kind teacher. For others, poetry is a way out of darkness — from depression or self-harm or grief. And of course, there are those of us who are poets, driven to create poetry and fulfilled by it. Everyone has their own reason why poetry is important to them.

The project has been live for about a week, and there have already been some great submissions. Here are three of my favorites:

I hope you’ll check out the project’s page on my site to see the rest of the videos. Even better, I’d love to know why poetry matters to you. Record your own video and add it to the collection!

About the Author

Gabriel Gadfly represents a younger breed of poet, embracing the Internet as a medium through which to bring his work to readers.

In 2009, Gabriel launched GabrielGadfly.com with the concept that poetry should be readily available and easy to share in formats that fit today’s world. The site launched with just ten poems; today, it has over 350 and Gabriel continues to publish new poems to the site several times per week. His style of poetry uses concrete narration and sharp images to tell stories; sometimes fictitious, sometimes true.

Though Gabriel publishes his works directly on his website, several of his poems have appeared in Four & Twenty, Borderline, Anatomy & Etymology, and most recently, in Subtext Queer Arts Magazine, a publication by the University of Florida.

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11. It’s (Inter)National Poetry Writing Month- Ready? Set? Write!

As the beloved T.S. Eliot reminds us, “April is the cruelest month.” And of course it is- NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) is upon us! For those who are aware of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the poetically inclined have their own writing challenge during the month of April to produce 30 poems in 30 days.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone, Take This!

To celebrate, 1889 Labs is here with support! Every day on our facebook page, you’ll find a writing prompt for your daily poem- whether it be a phrase, photo, a favourite poet, or just a word to get your creativity flowing.

Our resident poet, Gabriel Gadfly, is celebrating NaPo too! The Poetry Matters project invites you to join in the poetry community as we post videos and create an ongoing dialogue on why poetry matters to us- whether it be writing, reading, or both.

Tips and Tricks on Getting Through NaPoWriMo Alive!

As a NaPoWriMo participant since 2006, I thought I might offer some advice on how to have a successful (and fun!) month when it comes to the poetry challenge. It’s not always easy, and sometimes you don’t finish- but that’s okay. So how can you survive it?

1)    It’s about quantity- not quality (for now).

It sounds ridiculous to look at writing from this kind of an approach, but that’s what NaPo is- a way to encourage yourself to write, even when inspiration doesn’t strike you at every corner. Should every NaPo poem be a masterpiece? Absolutely not! The point is to try your best each day, and see what happens. At the end of the month, you have 30 poems (some better than others) to revise and shape into something you’re truly proud of. NaPo is a breeding ground for good writing that you help shape into great writing.

2)    NaPoWriMo is a contact sport.

Join a forum! There are plenty of poetry forums participating in NaPoWriMo right now, and it’s a great way to not only keep track of your work, but also push yourself to keep going even when things get difficult. It’s okay if you fall behind a few days- just get back on the horse! Joining a group of NaPoWriMo participants will keep you motivated by getting feedback (fluffy, happy, kind feedback) from writers going through the same thing, and giving it in return.

3)    Get help!

While waiting for the perfect inspiration may work for some people, sometimes you need to seek it out. Look through novels, poems, or even photo galleries to find something to write about. NaPo has taught me one thing when it comes to writer’s block: there is no such thing as writer’s block, just writer’s laze. Think of writing is a muscle- the more you use it, the easier it becomes to keep doing so.

NaPoWriMo is also the perfect time to experiment! If you love a certain poet’s writing style, try emulating it. Some people find a specific list of prompts that they stick to for the whole month, and some try a different poetic form each day such as sonnets, terza rima, sestinas, or freeverse.

Want a personal coach?

This month you can find me (Merissa) on the 1889 Labs facebook page, for all your writing coach needs! You can also check out my personal NaPo journey on the EveryPoet.org NaPoWriMo 2013 thread. If you’re looking to participate, make a thread with your first poem before midnight tonight. If you miss the deadline- no worries! There are plenty of ways you can still participate and join the community.

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12. Tree Books or E-books?

To e-read or not to e-read? That is the question.

One of my favourite bloggers once mentioned that they no longer read “tree books” because not only do they prefer the convenience of their e-reader, but their concern for the environment had lead them to start building an electronic library instead. At 1889, we love our e-books- they’re instantly available to readers all over the world in a fraction of a second- no mess, no fuss, no trees. But how do we choose? For some people, including myself, having a physical book in my possession means much more than simply it’s contents.

The weight, the feel, and even the smell of a book can sometimes be the most comforting thing in the world. It’s reassuring, tangible, and enduring. Having a library of books isn’t just about the inside, but the way they fill a room with memories- happy, exciting, and at times, even heartbreaking.

Ms. Calendar: Well, it was your book that started all the trouble, not a computer. Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Ms. Calendar: Computers don’t smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know! Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a, a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences… long forgotten. Books smell. Musty, and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer, it… it has no texture, no context. It’s, it’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then, then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um… smelly.

-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “I, Robot… You, Jane”

Books create a form of permanence that e-books simply don’t. In the film industry, the move from analogue to digital is great concern as well. The issue with fully digital media is that it is so easily lost, corrupted, and ultimately, fallible. While they may seem to last, hard drives fail, and information can be lost forever. If there is no physical copy of something, there will likely come a time where it is irretrievable. This may be much more of a concern for filmmakers. However, the same concepts apply not only to literature, but the wealth of information made digital today. We may be able to read physical works from thousands of years ago, but how will future generations read our works if they are corroded away so easily?

On the other hand, the thrive in digital literature has made information more accessible than ever before. Instant, worldwide distribution platforms at a fraction of the cost of traditional publishing means great things- not only for readers, but for authors as well. More authors than ever before have the chance to not only publish their work, but find and distribute it to their audiences, niche or mainstream. Authors who may have never been published by a traditional publisher can (and do) find success through indie publishers and self-publishing. As for readers? A world of books that would have never been available before finally do, catering to niche markets and specific genres that otherwise would have never been made available. While digital publishing and distributions increases the number of sub-standard books on the market, it also happens to increase the number of well-written, thoughtful, and entertaining titles as well. You cannot have an increase in one without the other- and an increase in literature I may not like does not decrease the amount of literature that I do.

When it comes down to it, the reading world as we know it is in a transition period. Both the book store and the library have yet to become obsolete. Will we ever go fully digital? Should we?

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13. The Steep And Savage Path

by Keira Michelle Telford

For the FMB Blog Tour, SILVER: Acheron protagonist Ella ‘Silver’ Cross talks about love and loss, and tells us why she doesn’t regret a thing.

It was just before dawn when a unit of heavily armed Omega Security Officers tapped gently on the front door of Alex’s Sentinel District apartment. And by that, I mean the battering ram they used to gain entry hit the door so hard it snapped the hinges and split the wood almost straight down the middle. Those were the days before I used to sleep with a knife tucked under my pillow, and for that, the Officer who grabbed me by my hair and hauled me out of bed that morning should be eternally thankful.

I was arrested, detained, and banished. In my city, that’s called lenience. Does it matter that I was innocent? Nope. If someone wants you gone, you’re gone. Period. My relationship with Alex (a Hunter under my command) was exposed, and those charges saw me immediately discharged from the Hunter Division. While in custody, and now a civilian, I was sent before the Banishment & Enforcement Council to face a false treason charge. They couldn’t sentence me to death without a confession or an eye witness, so they settled for banishment. The rest is history.

If I hadn’t broken Hunter Division law by becoming involved with Alex, would this still have happened to me? Maybe. Maybe not. Getting me discharged was the goal. Getting me banished was the icing on the cake. As a Hunter, I would’ve had the protection of the Division’s legal department. As a civilian, I had nothing but my word.

I could torture myself with that fact for the rest of my life, but I won’t. The bottom line is that those years I had with Alex are worth more than everything I’ve had to go through since. Omega can take away my freedom, my dignity, my job—my purpose—and my home. They can destroy the relationship I had with Alex and condemn us to a life apart, but my love for him is something that can never be corrupted. It’s the one thing that will stay mine until the last breath I take on this earth, and it’s the reason I still wear his dog tags around my neck.

I may never get to see him again, but just knowing that he’s out there gives me a reason to keep fighting. If I didn’t hold that love for him, Omega would probably have had their way by now. I’d probably be dead.

About SILVER: Acheron (A River of Pain)

Dishonorably discharged from the Hunter Division and banished for crimes she did not commit, Silver struggles to come to terms with her new prison-like surroundings: a segregated area of the city called the Fringe District, populated by murderers, thieves and rapists.

Starving, and desperate for money, she reluctantly accepts the Police Division’s invitation to enroll in a covert Bounty Hunter program: an initiative devised to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the Fringers, and to force the very worst warrant dodging law-breakers to meet their fate–death.

Unfortunately, Silver doesn’t realize that the Police Division is about to up the ante. They need more than little snippets of information and arrests–they need someone to pull the trigger. They need an executioner.

About Keira Michelle Telford

Keira Michelle Telford was born and raised in the UK. She spent the early part of her childhood in Worcestershire, before the family moved to Wales where she lived for most of her teenage years. In 2006, she moved to Canada. She currently resides in beautiful British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and 9 guinea pigs.

Series Website | Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

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14. Interview with Speculative Horror Author Todd Keisling

Todd Keisling is stopping by the 1889 Labs blog today as a part of The Liminal Man Blog Tour! We decided to pick his brain to see what goes on inside the mind of the man who dreams up creatures like the Yawning.

MT: Tell me more about yourself. Have you got any secret talents? Invisibility, maybe?

TK: I’m just an ordinary guy who happens to write fiction. I have a family, a day job, and a demon on my shoulder that tells me what to say. That demon, he’s the best in all the nine circles. What a great guy.

MT: You’ve been involved in the self and indie publishing community for quite some time. What began your interest in the non-traditional route of publishing of your work? How’s the journey been?

TK: In 2004, I interned for my university’s lit mag and worked with the staff on their annual publication. I got to experience the step-by-step process of taking words to print, and after seeing everything involved, I wanted to take a stab at it myself. I’ve been at it ever since.

The journey has been long and trying, but also rewarding. I have full creative control, and with a little work, I’ve managed to amass a following that continues to grow a little every day. Last year, my first novel peaked at #2 in Amazon’s Top 100 horror, and just a few weeks ago, I was named one of the top 10 new horror authors. These accomplishments were all based on completely independent efforts. I’m proud to say that.

MT: I’d love to know more about the Monochrome/Donovan Candle trilogy—how have things taken shape since the first edition of A Life Transparent back in 2007?

TK: When I wrote the first novel back in ’07, I never expected the story to grow beyond the bounds of one book. I left a lot of unanswered questions with that first novel that I didn’t think I’d ever have to answer, but once the idea of a sequel took shape, I realized I had to sit down and figure out the “how” and “why” of the Monochrome. The result is a significant expansion of the “mythos” in my second novel, THE LIMINAL MAN, while still leaving some questions unanswered for the third and final novel of the trilogy.

MT: What do you do when you’re not writing?

TK: I read, watch movies, play videogames. I daydream, and I waste time on Facebook and Reddit. I go to work at the day job. In print, my non-writing life sounds rather uneventful, but I’m comfortable with it.

MT: Is there anything you can’t write without? A certain workspace, coffee, or something else?

TK: Music. I always have to have music. I try to find something that fits the mood or atmosphere of the scene I happen to be writing, and then I put that track on repeat for as long as I’m working. A lot of TLM was written this way.

MT: If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

TK: I think I’d like to be Shadow from AMERICAN GODS just for the opportunity to live in Neil Gaiman’s vision of the world for a while.

MT: And finally, what kinds of projects have you got coming down the pipeline? Anything you’re really excited for?

TK: I’ve begun plotting the third novel of the Monochrome trilogy, although I don’t expect to start writing that story until 2014. After spending almost four years working on TLM, I need a break from Donovan Candle for a while, so I’ll be working on a lot of short fiction for a collection tentatively titled UGLY LITTLE THINGS. I hope to have that published digitally by the end of this year.

About The Liminal Man

Read about A Life Transparent here.

Following the unsettling events of A Life Transparent, Donovan Candle has struggled to redefine himself after escaping the Monochrome, a colorless reality mirroring our own. Nearly a year later, his efforts have finally paid off: his wife, Donna, is pregnant with their first child, and his novel is complete. Life for the Candle family is good-for now.

Working as a private investigator alongside his brother, Donovan has witnessed the startling number of Missing Persons cases occurring around the city, familiar signs that something more devious is at play. His fears are confirmed when the bodies of several young men and women are discovered, apparent victims of a brutal murderer.

At first he’s hesitant to act, but when Donna’s nephew is abducted by the suspected killer, Donovan finds he has no choice but to face his fears. This time there is more at stake than just his own happiness, and doing the right thing may come at a terrible price . . .

In The Liminal Man, Todd Keisling continues the terrifying fable of Donovan Candle, entwining him in the ominous plot of a sadistic new enemy, and keeping readers enthralled until the very end.

About Todd Keisling

Todd Keisling is a two-time recipient of the Oswald Research and Creativity Prize for fiction. He is also the author of A LIFE TRANSPARENT and its forthcoming sequel, THE LIMINAL MAN. Born in Kentucky, he now lives and works with his wife and son somewhere near Reading, Pennsylvania. When he was a kid, he stuck a heart-shaped cinnamon candy up his left nostril. He hasn’t been the same since.

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15. There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block: 4 Ways to get unblocked from your imaginary wall

by Sylvia Hubbard

I’m so happy to join you today and honored to be a guest on this blog during my Love 101: Mistaken Identity Series Tour.

As fiction writers we make up stuff. We make up stories, characters, plot and so forth, so why is it so hard to believe we just make up the fact that we cannot write?

I’ve never believed in writer’s block. However, I do believe there are life stresses that prevent us from writing and because we so closely believe our imagination, we start to believe that writer’s block exist.

It doesn’t.

Now I know you’re reading this and thinking I obviously haven’t had it (as if writer’s block is a sickness I know nothing about).

But life stresses can cause a mental deterrent when trying to “relax” and let creativity flow.

With that in mind, let’s explore how I overcame these mental deterrents – and how I was able to write my standalone Mistaken Identity series, Love 101 in less than two months, all the while going through financial, personal and business crises.

First, before anything, writers need time to write and you should always know when you’re the most creative throughout the day. Identify when you’re at your peak so that at those times you can get the most out of writing.

From 4pm to 10pm is when I’m most creative, but unfortunately when writing Love 101 that was also my most busiest time of day, which created even more stress in my life. During my most creative time, I had a voice recorder on my phone and allowed the creativity to flow… verbally. In the early morning hours or late at night, I would sit down and transcribe my words. Though it didn’t ease my need to write, it placated the urges and frustration that would crop up.

Second, I found theme music for my endeavor. This helped me concentrate on the subject at hand when I was sitting down at the “wrong” times to write. Once I put the music on, I was like Pavlov’s dogs and began to immerse myself into the book. Sometimes it’d just be one song playing over and over again and I wouldn’t realize how much time had gone by or how late the hour was despite it being some of my most stressful days.

Third, I practiced meditation. I’ve also known people to rely on a quick five minute exercise in order to get the mind clear and refreshed; especially when the day has been especially trying. I was able to clear my mind just to get started and then be able to rev myself up to get the job done with a good word count for that day.

Lastly, I taped my synopsis or outline on my monitor so if life stresses “bothered” me while I was trying to write, I would be able to see what I was supposed to be doing. There’s truth in the statement out of sight, out of mind, because if it wasn’t there in front of me, I could easily become distracted by what was going on in my life.

All in all, I was able to give birth to a book that I’m extremely proud of and I know my readers have and will enjoy.

I hope my suggestions have helped you become unblocked!

About LOVE 101: Learning To Love

Prudish school teacher, Cheyenne, loses a bet with her students and is forced to wear her student’s uniform.

On the same day, she meets the devilishly gorgeous Evan Crane who is desperately lost and needs “assistance” getting home. Fighting his attraction to who is think is just a high school student, Evan finds he needs her help. Deciding to take advantage of his weakness and her own mounting attraction to him, Cheyenne kisses Evan.

That’s when her plan to just tease the stranger becomes a chance for her to live out her own reckless fantasy.

Yet, when the tables are turned and she reaps what she has sown, Cheyenne has to make a choice to forgive Evan and overcome her own fears or miss out on the most perfect love any woman could ever have.

Love 101: Learning To Love (Erotic Noir) available on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

About Sylvia Hubbard

Sylvia Hubbard knew she’d wanted to be a writer of romance long before she knew there were black writers in the world. Weaving stories magically as a summer past time to writing stories to get through the humdrum of school, she was able to create something from nothing. Today, she has independently published over 28 books, is the founder of Motown Writers Network and The AA Electronic Literary Network, CEO of HubBooks Literary Services, runs over five blogs on a variety of subjects, hosts The Michigan Literary Network Radio Show and is a happily divorced mother of three children in Detroit, Michigan.

Find her online at Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

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16. Interview with Fantasy Author Danica Winters

This is a first for 1889 — a CHARACTER interview!

As part of author Danica Winter’s blog tour, she’s stopping by 1889 Labs today for a little interview with vampire Ellie Smith, the main character in her fantasy novel The Vampire’s Hope.

Tell us about your family.

Ellie Smith: There’s not a whole lot to tell. Usual sob story. Mom threw me on a porch the day I was born. And well, never knew my dad.

Some people used to laugh at me when I was in the system—but you know what? It never really bothered me. It’s a strange thing, but nothing really seems to bother me…at least not until I was turned Vamp. Then… well then, Ian opened up a whole new door to the world for me.

What one word best describes you?

Ellie: Savvy.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

Ellie: The moment I thought I would lose my Ian.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ellie: I sure as hell never thought I would grow up and be a dancer. (She laughs and takes a sip of her steadily warming beer.) I never really hoped for anything. I guess I just wanted to grow up.

What songs are most played on your Ipod?

Ellie: I am a HUGE Godsmack fan. Here are my favorite three songs:

1. Godsmack—Voodoo (My all-time favorite song.)

2. Godsmack—Now Go Away

3. Godsmack–Vampires

Who should play you in a film?

Ellie: Have you seen that movie, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? It would definitely be that chic.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

Ellie: I’m a frigging Vampire. Really? I guess my other name should be Mary-freaking-sunshine.

What would we find under your bed?

Ellie: You don’t want to look under my bed.

What is the next big thing?

Ellie: Ian and I have only just begun our story. Keep an eye out for us. We’ve had some bad-ass adventures that only need to be written down. You wouldn’t believe what we’ve been up to.

Thank you to Danica Winters for letting her character Ellie stop by for a chat. For more tour stops, check out FMB Blog Tours.

About The Vampire’s Hope

Ellie Smith, an emotionally stunted dancer, finds more than she bargains for after her human life is taken by the vampire, Master Liam. Once inside the Vampire’s underground lair, the Keres Den, she meets Ian, an immortal Viking warrior, who is infiltrating the soulless prison. (New Paragraph) As Ellie begins her training, she learns that the dark tunnels around her are filled with even darker secrets. As the truth of her existence come to light, she is faced with a choice—does she let her past dictate her future, or can she begin to feel again?

Buy now on Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Romance | kobo

About Danica Winters

Danica Winters is an Amazon best-selling romance author based in Montana. She is known for writing award-winning books that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and often a touch of magic. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Montana Romance Writers, and Greater Seattle Romance Writers. She is a contributor to magazines, websites, and news organizations. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, the outdoors, and the bliss brought by the printed word.

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17. Reasons To Consider Self-Publishing

by Joseph Spencer

Traditional publishers and several well-established authors such as Sue Grafton and Jodi Picoult have not minced words when talking about self publishing. They view the recent explosion of self-published authors and independent presses much like a dog views a mailman with a bone hanging out of his pocket.

Self publishing blindsided traditional publishers, and broke up the monopoly of the marketplace they enjoyed for many years. They used to control distribution throughout the United States and all over the world. With a strong base of readers shifting their habits either exclusively or in part to ebooks, writers regained freedom in the distribution chain.

Traditional publishers and agents get angry when you take money out of their pockets, and that’s exactly what the self-publishing boon is doing. Self publishing affords authors the chance to publish their work and make it available cheaply while printing paperback copies on demand without spending thousands of dollars on copies up front.

Here are things to consider if you’re an author and the traditional publishing experience hasn’t been what you expected.

  1. Reject rejection
    In the traditional publishing world, there’s a gauntlet of people standing in the way of making your publishing dreams happen, and rejection from anyone of them along the way can table your manuscript. Traditional publishers tend to gamble on works similar to what’s hot right now such as Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series or E.L. James’ BDSM erotica. If you fall out of this scope, self publishing gives you a chance to let the marketplace rather than gatekeepers from traditional publishers decide on your success.

  2. It’s all about the money
    Authors keep more of the profit with no middlemen like agents and publishing houses taking their cut. It’s not uncommon for authors to receive only 25-40 percent in royalties on their ebooks and print books from traditional publishers. Let’s say your ebook costs $6. After Amazon takes 30 percent, let’s say you get 40 percent of what’s left for your royalty. That would mean you get $1.68 per book. If you self publish, you’d get $4.20 – three times what you’d get from a traditional publisher.

  3. Fast cash
    It’s not uncommon for traditional publishers to pay royalties quarterly or even slower. Therefore, authors are left in the lurch for months trying to guess how much of a check they’ll receive. Create Space, Kubit, andKindle Direct Publishing all pay monthly, so your wait to see the fruit of your labor isn’t quite as long.

  4. You pick your timeline
    Only you know what best fits in your personal schedule. So, if you want to sync your book’s launch perfectly with your life, self publishing is an easier way to accomplish that. Traditional publishers usually release books quarterly or in accordance with release windows which fall within seasonal shopping habits. There’s nothing like planning a trip well in advance and then having your book release fall smack dab in the middle of the vacation, which either causes you to cancel your plans or puts you behind in book promotion.

  5. Control freak
    When you self publish, you are accepting more of the risk certainly. However, you also can move swiftly to make corrections. You’re in charge of oversight of your work, and can make decisions quickly as to editorial content, design layout, and marketing of the book. During the traditional publishing process, it’s possible for the author’s voice, tone, and creativity to be altered by editors, artists, bean counters and other managerial staff.

  6. About GRIM

    Grim When everything is taken from him, Detective Adam White must choose what’s most important.

    Does he stick to the heroic ideals which made him a famed paragon of justice and take down a murderous madman? Or does he give in to his vigilante impulses, avenge his wife’s murder, and become the type of killer he’s hunted for so many years?

    About Joseph Spencer

    Joe Spencer is the author of Grim, a paranormal crime thriller released by Damnation Books in September 2012. It’s the first in the planned Sons of Darkness series. His second book, Wrage, is due out in 2013. He can be reached at www.josephbspencer.com.

    This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

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18. The Lion Passé

I’ve been reading up on the benefits of removing yourself from social media outlets. There can be no doubt at all that the time spent updating and following SM accounts, for most us, will never pay any dividends. The more you engage online, the more you receive invitations to participate in other SM platforms, with profiles that need updating, and comments needed, and time spent engaging – or a whole list of obsolete accounts with random information about you float in the ether, forgotten and entirely unlamented.

A big part of the anxiety disorder that goes hand in hand with SM use is the ‘comparison and failure’ aspect; the same old school yard popularity games still being won by the same old faces. And because we are there with them, because their words and deeds are beamed into our own homes, our own computers, we think we are involved in the processes that unfold. When we feel a sense of failure, it is often associated with a sense of being rejected and disliked.

When I sent out a pile of Christmas well-wishes to my SM associates this year and received back one brief ditto, I was reminded of a line in James Goldman’s wonderful ‘The Lion in Winter’.

[Seriously, if you haven’t seen either the 1968 Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins movie, or the 2003 Glenn Close, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Rafe Spall, and Andrew Howard movie, both brilliant – do yourself a favour – SEE IT.]

A little backstory:

Everyone knows Henry II favoured Prince John, while his beloved enemy, wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, favoured her lambkin, Richard Cœur de Lion, to ascend Henry II’s throne after the untimely death of their eldest son, Henry the Young King. [Forget all their daughters, half-siblings in France, and illegitimate titled brothers] We know about The Lionheart and his Crusades, and John Lackland, the phony king of England, who didn’t really fight off Robin [Hood] of Loxley at all.

But did you know about Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond?

That’s right! Between their eldest surviving son, Richard, and their youngest son, John, there was another legitimate son – Geoff.

Unless you are a history buff, you’ve probably never heard of him; history didn’t provide him a wide stage. He did not lack political skill; he was a wily and sugar-tongued diplomat with not one single scruple. He was fast on his feet, too; he changed allegiances often and without warning.

He could have been a contender! But he wasn’t. He was pushed aside by four of the most skilled, aggressive, politically astute, powerful, determined, and unscrupulous people royalty has ever produced – which is really saying something.

So here is Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, in Goldman’s screenplay, bargaining for power from the leftovers between Eleanor and Richard, and Henry and John. In a moment of passion, when Richard’s dalliances with King Philip of France are revealed and Henry II cries,Thank God I have another son. Thank God for John!’

 Geoff says to his father:
‘And who shall we thank for Geoffrey? You don’t think much of me.’

And HERE is his father’s answer, the line that came to mind for me and my Christmas well-wishes:

Much? I don’t think of you at all.’

Geoffrey was in the thick of it. He was manipulating and bargaining with the best – he was working his brand and raising his profile. He thought that because he was a player, he was important. He thought because he was putting in the time and effort, it meant something, his market share was growing. He thought that his assistance was valuable, that the support he gave would be rewarded.

He thought that the fact that his father did not figure him into the schemes and land grabs meant he had been willfully rejected by his sire, and his skills disrespected.

He was wrong.

We are wrong when we imagine we have any role in the SM world. The chosen ones have their role to play. In publishing they are the lords of creation, the feted creatives by whose offerings society judges its own worth.

I am white noise. I am a matter of supreme indifference to the successful.

It is so freeing to realize that and to move on.

Years ago I saw it, but it didn’t sink in. I wrote a poem about it then:


He went to market to sell magic beans.
A million million beansellers stood there, screaming.
Glassy eyes and pursed lips.
“I have to sell my beans,” he said.

Beansellers split his tongue.

Moving bravely through the crush,
He gripped his small brown beans,
“I need to sell my magic beans.”
But no one went to market to buy.

Only beansellers.

He saw beans sparkle, glow, sing songs.
Standing near the lovely beans,
Searching faces for smiles,
He hid his ugly old beans.

“They’re all I have.”

He asked about the shiniest beans,
But his thick, split, stupid tongue twisted and bled.
And beansellers screamed. A million million beansellers.
Narrow eyes and lemon lips screamed.

He shrugged, trudged home, and made burritos.


Years ago, too, I read an article on the mass closing of independent bookstores that said the first reason for failure was not Amazon or big publishing houses, it was that there were more people writing and trying to sell books than there were trying to read them.

So I knew it, years ago.

I have removed myself from the hundreds of pages with their mailing lists which I had subscribed to. Finger on the writing/publishing/marketing pulse, stuff.

I never got twitter. I don’t go there anymore. In two years I have had two conversations on twitter. It seems to me that everyone in the world is tweeting what they think, as they think it, all at once. No one seems to be listening, everyone is too busy talking.

I enjoyed facebook, briefly. But now each time I engage an audience and begin to gather actual real life conversations, facebook simply cuts back the number of feeds my posts appear on. I post on 1889 Labs facebook feed and my posts do not even appear on my timeline anymore. I am not one of the 5%.

I enjoyed blogging for a while. But every time there is a break in the flow the work done to build an audience is immediately lost. You build up regulars who come back each week to chat about your thoughts. Then there is a pause. Gone.  Just gone.

I tried Goodreads. Why? I don’t have time to read enough or a desire to discuss what I read, and I don’t want to listen to a constant stream of self-pubbed authors who have a handbook on how to spam.

You know all the others. Same.

I am not going to unpublish, as some are doing when they realize how much of their time they have thrown away. But I’m done with trying to engage people whose real need and drive is to engage me in their sales pitch. Very best of luck to them all. I wish them well.

Here are some links on disengaging that might interest you. Or not.

3 Reasons You Should Quit Social Media
Is Social Media Destroying Your Self-Esteem
Social Media Study
Social Media Vocabulary: Disease and Disorders
Going Unsocial: How to Disconnect from Social Networking
Social Media Disconnect: Are Marketers Out of Touch?
Camp Kivu’s Quest to Get Depressed Teens to Disconnect From Social Media
Etc. Google it.

[The 'passé' thing is a joke, not an error. My sense of humour ....]


2 Comments on The Lion Passé, last added: 1/4/2013
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19. Still Water.

People whose conversation I enjoy have been talking a lot about life-changing times, lately. Decades that have marked crucial turning points in their lives. Realizations that have come, and with them an illumination which has changed the way they see the world, or more importantly, changed their artistic response to the world they live in.

That power of change, the response to an epiphany, has been something I have honoured for many years. One of the quotes prominent in my workspace is:

 “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionis

Being raised unhappily in a strictly paternal authoritarian household where bigotry and social one-up-manship seethed under a thin veil of cultured courtesy pounded into me first an unquestioning obedience, then a slow-burning anger, then a desire for anarchy that was ill-mannered and uncorsetted.

I tried to look through lists of music and films of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s to find favourites and life-changers. There were too many. I have been too many different people through all those decades to find a place to say, ‘that is when I realized I was me’. I have trouble knowing who me is, even now.

What is common to other people’s discussions I’ve followed, though, and all those about planning for their success today, is passion. All the people who get together to discuss the things that precipitated a need to change – or to find a voice in the face of injustice, or to make the time in the life of a busy working wife and mother to write – speak about their passion.

Often they speak about the passion for reading at an early age. Some speak of keeping fading copies of stories they wrote as small children. Some speak of the anger that found a voice through art.

I don’t appear to have a passion. I get passionate about issues. Cruelty, any kind of enabled suffering, makes me angry and outspoken; injustice, bigotry, waste, literacy, education, health and mental health rights, all other human rights – just the typical lefty sort of ideologies, but generally I seem to be like water.

Water just finds a level and sits, or evaporates and then tumbles down again, or slowly erodes obstacles. Water only gets any grit about it when there is some external force causing a disturbance. That’s me. No passion. Water. Lucky water.

I haven’t had to struggle for any of the successes I’ve had; I’ve just been in the right place at the right time and known the right people. I’m not competitive at all. I cannot win a race. If someone is in a hurry to get past me I am as likely to step aside and offer them my skates to make their journey easier. That isn’t saintly – it’s just that I don’t care if someone gets where they’re going ahead of me.

I think that’s why I feel so lost in this new world.

I cannot compete. I cannot call out continually, ‘Mine is best’. And among those who have no need to succeed in terms of recognition, I have no passion to drive me on to make myself find my very best and put it out there for others. I need external stimuli, deadlines, causes. I need to have something important to say, that someone else hasn’t already said better.

The only thing I have in common with the world of other artists is this endless, circular, self-destructive, ego-driven fascination with myself and telling everyone else about it.

Cheers.  :)

6 Comments on Still Water., last added: 11/15/2012
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20. Interview With Horror Author Mike Kearby

As part of author Mike Kearby‘s blog tour, he’s stopping by 1889 Labs today for a little interview about his horror/thriller release Kavachi’s Rise.

You can find the full blog tour schedule here if you’re interested in following along.

In the meantime… Lights! Camera! Action!

Tell us about yourself. You’re a novelist, inventor, ex-English teacher, history enthusiast… but what aren’t you?

MK: I am most definitely not a follower and seem to have a genetic aversion toward humans that organize into groups.

You’ve written over ten novels. How does Kavachi’s Rise differ from your previous works?

MK: My early novels all have an overwhelming storyline based on real events in history. The Devouring contains a very brief historical set-up of the Romani Holocaust and prey mimicry. Other than that, the book is a story of pure fiction.

In a market that has seen many new vampire novels released, what makes the vampire protagonists in Kavachi’s Rise unique?

In my mind, the story would replace the undead vampire of lore with the idea that vampire are actually an evolved animal species with the ability to mimic their prey: Man. I wanted vampire that were very much alive and could move about in the daylight. The vampire in the story still take blood, but for a very different reason: to harvest a specific amino acid that fuels their molecular furnaces.

How much do you relate to your characters?

MK: I think as all writers do; I have a tendency to take acquaintances and parts of myself and fuse those together to form the main characters in each novel.

Many of your works have a historical context. What unusual facts did you have to research for this novel?

MK:  The first historical event I had to understand was the Romani Holocaust and the liberation of prisoners from German death camps. Of course the entire plotline was dependent on discovering whether or not some predators mimic their prey for hunting. The discovery that this does occur in nature made the plot (for me) believable in my writing the story.

Kavachi’s Rise is the first in The Devouring series. What can readers expect from the sequels?

MK: The first installment set-up was to transform the main characters, Kavachi and Tetanya, from domesticated vampyre into feral vampyre, then into government-controlled assassins. Future books will show the two fighting – and here’s a cliché – evil in the world.

Finally, what question should we have asked you, and why?

MK: The question: Will the Mayan prediction regarding the 13th Baktun come true on December 21st 2012 thus ending all life on the planet?

The why? I wanted to remind your readers to buy their copy of The Devouring well ahead of the planet’s end.

About Kavachi’s Rise (The Devouring #1)

A Dark Secret. Thomas Morehart and his sister, Kara are vampyre, not the undead, but creatures evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to mimic their prey, man. Then – rescued from a Nazi Prison Camp, Thomas and Kara are brought to the U.S. and forced to work inside government-owned mortuaries. Now -betrayed by the government sixty-seven years later, Thomas and Kara are in a race against time to transform back to their feral states or risk Exsanguination by government sanctioned hit squads.

Purchase from Damnation Books | Amazon | B&N

About Mike Kearby

From Wikipedia: Mike Kearby (born 1952) is an American novelist and inventor. Since 2005, Kearby has published ten novels, one graphic novel, and written two screenplays: (2011) Boston Nightly, with fellow writer Paul Bright and (2012) The Devouring. Boston Nightly is scheduled for filming in the spring of 2013.

Kearby was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, and received a B.S. from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in 1972. He taught high school English and reading for 10 years and created “”The Collaborative Novella Project”" The project allows future authors to go through the novel writing process from idea to published work.

Find out more at his website, twitter or blog.

2 Comments on Interview With Horror Author Mike Kearby, last added: 11/22/2012
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21. Above Ground Blog Tour: 3 Days Left To Win!

As you may have seen, this past month our own A.M. Harte has been running a month-long blog tour to celebrate the release of her new novel Above Ground.

Only THREE DAYS remain to enter to win MYSTERY prizes which may or may not include a doomsday device (minus batteries). What are you waiting for?

Above Ground by A.M. Harte

The first glimpse of sun may be her last.

When Lilith Gray goes above ground for the first time, she hardly expects to stay there — much less be trapped on the surface with no way home.

Hunted by trackers and threatened by the infected, Lilith is on the run, desperate to return underground. Her only hope for survival lies with a taciturn werewolf with a dark agenda of his own.

Lilith’s old carefree life has been reduced to one choice:

Adapt. Or die trying.

Mystery Raffle

PRIZES! Glorious prizes! This blog tour’s gone crazy and decided to change things up by hosting a mystery raffle with eleven awesome prizes for you to win- one for each letter of Above Ground! There are tons of ways to win, and more entries to gain every day of the tour just by commenting on each tour stop’s blog post. You can win books! You can win art! You can win swag! You can win your own doomsday device*!

*Doomsday device does not include batteries and might not actually exist, but the rest of the prizes do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Stops

Tuesday Serial AF Stewart Write Rewrite Read Banana Blog Loudquietgirl Feral Intensity Raining Ink Page Readers JC Hart Zoe Whitten Ellie Hall AMA on Reddit EJ Spurrell Eight Cuts Gallery 5 Rings Friday Flash TA Holtorf Raining Ink Ellie Hall Reviews The Amwriting Blog A Book A Day Catherine Mede Greg X Graves Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile The Bathroom Monologues Bookish Ardour Cheapass Fiction Opinions of a Wolf A Bit of Dash Graham Storrs

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22. How to be Famous: Cameron Diaz

For the first time in weeks I had a whole blog post written and edited days before deadline. The trouble is it was very angry, negative, and whiney, so I decided to cut it and go with the main thrust of what I wanted to say without all the biiiaaatching.

The moral of my story was that people generally have short memories, but they will remember for as long as they live how you made them feel. Causing someone to feel worthless, or to feel they were an important asset in your life, can be done with as little as a few moments of your time, but it will form the impression of you they carry on with forever.

I hope that doesn’t sound too corny. It could. You’ll recall the climax of ‘There’s Something about Mary’, when Ted realizes that it isn’t something about Mary herself that is so extraordinary, it is how good she makes people ordinarily shunned by society feel about themselves. Then he cries a lot and snot runs down his face, but by then the point is made.

I thought: what a shame it is that we so often trade friendships for networks, these days.

From there I went on to think about other very basic and very true truisms, full of truthful truthiness. Since nothing positive is ever accomplished through negativity, I gathered some of my favourite literary truths, spoken by greats, and listed them here for you to consider. Some of these truths are contradictory, which is in the nature of truth itself.

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.
C. S. Lewis
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
C. S. Lewis
The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.
Jim Rohn
If literature isn’t everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble.
Jean-Paul Sartre
Every man’s memory is his private literature.
Aldous Huxley
The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
Virginia Woolf
The atmosphere of orthodoxy is always damaging to prose, and above all it is completely ruinous to the novel, the most anarchical of all forms of literature.
George Orwell
Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience… from generation to generation. In this way literature becomes the living memory of a nation.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The sole substitute for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The web, then, or the pattern, a web at once sensuous and logical, an elegant and pregnant texture: that is style, that is the foundation of the art of literature.
Robert Louis Stevenson
The force of the advertising word and image dwarfs the power of other literature in the 20th century.
Daniel J. Boorstin
Our American professors like their literature clear and cold and pure and very dead.
Sinclair Lewis
There is only one school of literature – that of talent.
Vladimir Nabokov
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
Barbara Tuchman
In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
Andre Maurois
Be excellent to each other.
Bill and Ted

Last word: I am in the process of unpublishing. It is the new black this season; you’ll see it everywhere soon. I’ll tell you about it another time.

Cheers all,

P.S: Cameron Diaz might not actually have been consulted at all on any point regarding the nature of fame.

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23. Above Ground Blog Tour Winners!

The time has come to draw the Above Ground blog tour to a close.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who followed along. You rock.

Secondly, yes, you finally get to know what the prizes are.

As part of the month-long tour, we ran a mystery raffle with 11 secret prizes up for grabs. Each prize was based off of the letters in the title “Above Ground”… and now, it’s time to reveal what the prizes are.

The list of prizes and the list of winners are up now at AM Harte.com.

Come along and check to see if you are a winner and claim the prize of your choice.

Get in quick! First in, first served.


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24. Being Indie: It’s All About The Control

by Janiera Eldridge

There are people who are not familiar with the indie world that wonder why would anyone want to be an indie author? Every part of the process rests on your shoulders. You’re in control of making the cover, editing and finding an editor, marketing and controlling profits. I can totally see why this would turn people off but, for a perfectionist like me, it is the most awesome thing in the world! I personally recommend self-publishing over publishing with any publisher at all (even small) because even though it is hard work, it’s rewarding work.

One of the things I like most about self-publishing is that you control what your book cover looks like A lot of people don’t know that authors don’t have control over their covers when they’re with big publishing companies. The cover is such a big part of creating a book; I don’t understand why an author can’t be more active in this process. There have even been incidences where authors write books with people of color in it and the cover featured a Caucasian person on the front. The poor author took a lot of flack over something they may not have been aware of until the book was being putting on the shelves. Being a self-published author you can work with indie friendly (and price considerate) cover designers like Strong Image Editing to come up with the cover of your dreams. Companies like this will work with you to give you a product you both approve of.If you’re tight on cash (which I always seem to be) you can create your own cover with Foto Flexer. It’s an advance online photo editing site that helps people like me who are totally photo design inclined, to create cool covers for free!

You also get to work one on one with the editor of your choosing. There are great editors whose prices are geared toward the tight budget of an indie author. Choosing your own editor allows you to control who you work with and whose editor’s style you find the best. Different editors have different style and not all styles match all authors. When you hire your own editor you can ask questions about the edits to help you learn new things and develop your writing skills. Even an inexpensive editor can cost a bit more money than a self-published author is willing to shell out. I don’t recommend Pro Writing Aid in place of a human editor but it really does look for all of the things a human editor would look for in your work. You can improve your story and your craft through this easy to use but detailed software.

Although marketing can seem daunting to writers, it really doesn’t have to be. After getting the hang of marketing my book it has become a bundle of fun. I’m learning new ways to market my book everyday! A great way to market your book is by planning blog tours. You can plan a blog tour by hiring someone to plan it for you (there are indie friendly book tour companies out there) or by planning one yourself if you don’t have the money. Does it take more time to plan your own? Sure! But, it can be done. I believe every author should have their own blog tour. Blog tours can make a huge difference in book sales. Other ways to market for free and online include finding book reviewers and randomly appearing on blogs. You can meet great people and it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Well, those are my reasons for loving being self-published. At the end of the day it is about doing things your way and controlling how well your book does.

Are there any things you’ve heard that makes self-publishing sound great?

About Soul Sisters

Soul Sisters is an urban fantasy novel about African-American twin sisters Ani and Dana who have a rather unique secret: one sister is human while the other is a vampire. While the sisters have lived peacefully with each other for many years one fateful night will change both their lives forever. When a drunken man tries to attack Dana (the human sister) Ani (the vampire sister) protects her sister with all of her ferocious power.

However, when the vampire’s leader Donovan finds out about the public display he calls for the sisters to be assassinated for disobedience. Ani and Dana now are in for the fight of their lives to protect each other as well as the lives of their dedicated friends who have joined them on their mission for survival. If Dana and Ani can make it through this time of uncertainty, Ani can take her new place as vampire queen. Soul Sisters is expected to be a trilogy; The book also features a multicultural cast of characters that brings a new edge of chic to the vampire world.

About Janiera Eldridge

Janiera Eldridge loves feeding her book addiction and putting all her crazy stories on paper. When she is not immersed in the world of fiction, she is working as an entertainment freelance writer. Janiera also enjoys connecting with other authors and supporting their work on her book blog Books & Beauty.

You can find her online on twitter, facebook, pinterest and goodreads.

This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

3 Comments on Being Indie: It’s All About The Control, last added: 12/17/2012
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25. A Fairy Godmother in the Modern World

by Charlotte Henley Babb

Magic in fairy tales is not as powerful as you might think. It’s good for the once in a lifetime chance for a change, but the person involved must be ready and able to take on the challenge. It’s rare that someone wishes for something practical. In fact, almost all wish stories are about how wishing is dangerous, and while the wish may be granted, it will almost certainly be harmful. Those kinds of stories are about keeping people in their place.

What kinds of chances do modern people need? An opening where a circumstance makes things different just for a little while.

In Don’t Tell Mom the Baby Sitter’s Dead, the teenage girl takes on responsibility, though she lies and steals to get her job and then to keep her boss from finding out what she has done. Her brother learns to cook and the younger brother stops being a brat at least for a few moments. For any of this to work out, there has to be a fairy godmother around, maybe the spirit of the dead babysitter. Of course, there’s always willing suspension of disbelief.

In 9-to-5, the women tied up the boss and made the changes they wanted themselves. They gave him the credit, so that he wouldn’t rat them out, but they took charge. Their fairy godmother shows up with an idea while they are drinking, though you never see her.

In Pretty Woman, both characters chose to give up their view of life, which is why it’s important that the rich man braved his fear of heights to come to get his woman. The fairy godmother there is the concierge who knows how to manage for his customer’s guests.

Even in The Princess Bride, which really should have been called Dread Pirate Wesley, the story was not about the girl, who was not a princess, but about the power of Wesley’s love for her. He came back for her as soon as he could do so, even from death, and in rescuing her, delivered the kingdom from the rotten prince. Mad Max and his witch wife provide the magic to bring Wesley back to life after the six-fingered man kills him.

Looked at in this way, The Devil Wears Prada is a Cinderella story with the evil boss as the fairy godmother who makes things hard on the girl, so that the girl will find out who she is and what she is made of, eventually taking responsibility for becoming what  she wants to be. The boss’s smile when the girl quits shows that the boss knows exactly what she is doing and that her work is done with this one. The TV series Ugly Betty requires the machinations of the grasping Vanessa Williams character to fuel the growth of each character. When she falls in love and finally finds herself, there’s not motivation for the story. The boss quits, Betty moves on and the show ends.

There’s a theme here. In Mundane, what passes for the real world, a person has to be on the lookout for the chance for the change, and then roll with it, risking everything, knowing that it might not work out, that the plot might not be a comedy.

We’re willing to believe in coincidences and happy accidents, and those are engineered by fairy godmothers in the real world. We don’t see them, most of the time, and if they are written into the story, they pose as maids, homeless people or others who are invisible in society.

Even you might be in a position to be someone else’s fairy godmother, with a kind word, a helping hand, or a bit of a nudge in a new direction. The job of the fairy godmother is only to spark the chance for a change. It’s up to the person to brave a new situation and rise to meet the challenge.

What’s your challenge today, and how are you going to roll?

About Maven Fairy Godmother: Through The Veil

Maven’s new dream job–fairy godmother–presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn’t giving her the facts–and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?

Buy it on MuseIt Up | Amazon | Smashwords | B&N

About Charlotte Henley Babb

Charlotte Babb began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name–although she sometimes mistook “Chocolate” for “Charlotte” on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter. She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours. Where are the stories are for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, education, bankruptcy, and widowhood?

Author Website | Book Site | Facebook (Author) | Facebook (Book) | Twitter: @charlottebabb

This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

3 Comments on A Fairy Godmother in the Modern World, last added: 12/17/2012
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