BookGoodies Author Interview May 2017

Read my author interview on BookGoodies here:

 

BookGoodies Author Interview May 2017

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Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted: The State of Social Media in 2016

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Rarely do I comment on current affairs.  I do not post political news nor do I superimpose my Facebook profile picture with the flag from the most current tragedy or triumph.  I do not “Like” a post so that Jesus will give me a million dollars or “Share” a post in order to show others that I support it in fear of having bad luck for the next seven years.

In 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc, etc dominate how the population lets the world know what they believe, what is right and what is wrong, who deserves sympathy and who deserves scorn.  We judge, politicize, bully, bloviate and shame just as readily as we adore, uplift, empathize and educate.  No one bothers to fact-check anything; the truth  doesn’t seem necessary anymore in order to stand as fact.  Everyone has an opinion and those who flood the Internet with it and have their words spun around the world via social media seem to have little regard for how their op-ed is used.  Similarly, anyone is free to create both truth and acceptance of their opinion and then easily have that seized upon and touted as fact.  Free speech is something that I believe in wholeheartedly.  As a writer, I have to.  However, does the writer now need to take more responsibility for what they write as their opinion so as not to run the risk of it seeping into the collective consciousness as truth?  Does the reader not also bear the responsibility of educating themselves as to what is fact and what is opinion (not necessarily fiction)?

I am weary of being bombarded with the world’s opinions.  I am weary of seeing people mindlessly hitting that “share” button before checking the factual merits.  People have access to opinions, news, articles and posts about how they should live:  don’t eat red meat, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat bread, take this supplement, use this facial cream, meditate, exercise, go outdoors, think positively, black lives matter, blue lives matter, love is the answer, stop animal abuse, build a wall, drink more water, go solar, stop using plastic, house the homeless, feed the children.  No one seems to have the motivation to look into anything before re-posting it as truth or worthy of merit.  Those of us who don’t hit that share button often enough or comment positively (or negatively-whatever the case my be) on any given subject run the risk of public shame and the accusation of apathy.

Caring about most things has now become personal for me as has how I live, eat, exercise, smoke, drink and fuck.  I have chosen to go the opposite direction than many of those in my social media sphere for several reasons:  1)  not everything is everyone’s business; 2)  posting something onto Facebook has never changed the mind of someone who believes differently from you; 3) opinions only matter to those that give them; 4)  posting, liking or sharing something has zero effect when compared to actually doing something about it; 5) “Nothing is true, everything is permitted”.

Here’s what I think people should do:  take everything with a grain of salt; do what you feel is right; take care of yourself and those within your tangible sphere of friends and family; treat people with respect, dignity and kindness; spend time in nature and with animals; mind your own business.

But that’s just my opinion.

 

Dying With Dignity: TheCase forAssisted Suicide

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If you’ve not seen the final episodes of the Netflix original series “Grace & Frankie”, then be forewarned:  this post has spoilers.

The series, now going into its third season, has broken several barriers that still aren’t dealt with often enough in mainstream television.  In the first season we meet Grace (played by Jane Fonda) who is married to Robert (Martin Sheen) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) who is married to Robert’s law partner, Saul.  At a dinner where the two women assume their husbands will announce their retirement, they instead announce that they are in love with one another and wish to end their marriages in order to be together.  What’s striking about this isn’t that the men are gay, but that at the age of somewhere between 65-70 they have decided to throw away comfortable and reasonably happy existences in order to live their true lives.  What ensues is both hilarious and moving with all four leads carrying out their respective roles with humanity, humor, dignity, frailty, strength and love.  Along the way, the show deals with often-ignored subjects like sex and dating after 65, drug use, adopted children, marriage and friendship, family dynamics and more.

In the next-to-last episode of the second season, we are introduced to a dear friend of Grace and Frankie’s named Babe, who has returned home after a long absence.  Taking Frankie into her confidence, she confesses that her cancer has returned and that she has chosen to forgo treatment this time and essentially go out with a bang and not a whimper.  To the observer, Babe appears to be healthy and in excellent (and spunky) spirits.  The truth is that she does still feel good and that is why Babe has chosen to die before she deteriorates, while she is happy and fun and feeling good.  Although somewhat conflicted, Frankie eventually agrees to help Babe carry this out and part of the plan is to throw a big party for herself and her friends.  Grace, on the other hand, struggles morally with the issue until she, too, finally breaks down and shows up at the party near the very end to pay her respects to Babe in the way that she wanted, not the way Grace thought that things should be.

In another spoiler alert, I will confess that I deal with a very similar situation in the sequel to my first novel, “Red, White & Blues”.  I won’t name the character, but someone finds out that their cancer has returned and decides to forgo treatment for the very reasons that Babe does.  This character asks for support from their friends and gets it, although there are struggles both moral and practical.  A party is held where everyone in attendance is aware of the outcome.

In a world where death and dying are very nearly the most taboo subjects that we face, “Grace & Frankie” dealt with both in a sympathetic, loving and realistic way.  In Babe’s mind, death isn’t what scares her, it’s dying that does-illness, sickness, chemo, exhaustion, pain, false hope and loved ones that suffer as you deteriorate before their very eyes.  The same fears that face my character and why the case for assisted suicide or euthanasia is important and misunderstood.  Bravo to the show and the actors for the fresh and realistic portrayal of a subject that needs more discussion.

Naming Fictional Characters

baby Name Books

I take naming my characters pretty seriously.  For my novel, “Red, White & Blues”, I wanted to have everyday names that could be easily related to by most everyone.  The names of my main characters, such as John Clark, Pete Clark, Sandy Porter, Sarah Somerton, Louise Sinclair, Edie McCabe-even Mike Blackhorse-were chosen specifically for their simplicity.  With characters that I wanted a little more impact, such as Morgan Stewart, the President of the fictional motorcycle club, “The Souls of Liberty”, I chose a stronger name, but still left it easy to remember.  For my “resident artist”, I chose Haven Hartford, a somewhat unusual name, but again, pretty easy to remember.  I wrote this book with the express idea that no matter what the situations are, it could be easy for everyone to relate to.  I also wrote my book using simple language, but that is a subject for another blog!  The main sources that I use for naming my characters (usually both first & last names) are two baby name books that I have had for years:  “Name Your Baby” by Lareina Rule and “The New Age Baby Name Book” by Sue Browder.  The latter is obviously for the more unusual or ethnic-inspired names.  When developing a new character, I nearly always know what they look like before I have their name, so I do take that image into consideration when I start searching for their name.  It’s fun to browse the books, looking for that perfect name to pop out at me!

Running Promotions on Your Book Through KDP-Is It Worth It?

As an (unemployed) independent author, I am constantly trying to discover ways to gain more exposure on the cheap.  Recently, I decided to run a free Kindle download promotion through Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).  Because the title of my book tied in with the 4th of July holiday as well as dealing with the Vietnam War and its veterans, I chose to run the promotion from July 1 through July 5.

Having very little expendable money, I had to find ways that I might be able to advertise my book for free or at least very cheaply.  Oftentimes, authors can submit their book to a specific webpage and get free advertising, but this is usually at the administrators’ discretion (or something), which means that if you choose not to pay for advertising, they’re probably not going to choose it.

So, I submitted my book to several sites for free:  Choosy Bookworm, Read Cheaply, Awesomegang, Pretty-hot, Digital Book Daily, Snicklist, Free Book Dude, Author Marketing Club and One Hundred Free Books.  Did any of them run my book?  Well, yes-ReadCheaply, Awesomegang & Digital Book Daily did.  Somehow, my book also showed up on Book Basset, but I did not submit to them as I was under the impression that they charged for ads.  A friend subscribes to their email list and forwarded me a copy of the listing.

I did choose to pay for submissions to a few websites.  Readingdeals was $10.00; PeopleReads $7.99 and Snicklist a whopping $2.00 for a grand total of $19.99.

In addition, I did some minimal promoting of said promotion by sending out tweets, posting it here on my blog and posting to my three Facebook pages once a day.

Here are the numbers for the downloads for each day:
July 01: 382
July 02: 135
July 03: 27
July 04: 33
July 05: 11
Total = 588 free downloads

Not too bad, but what the hell does it mean in the end?  Without reviews and recommendations, not a whole hell of a lot.  Of course, time will tell.  I can’t expect anyone to read a 760 page novel in a day or so, right?

So was it worth it?  As with most things, yes and no.  Yes because nearly 600 new potential readers and reviewers now have my book downloaded into their Kindles, but as I said, if these people 1) don’t read it and/or 2) don’t review or recommend it to others…well, you see how this could go.

If positive results do come from this, I will be pleasantly surprised.

Sequel to “Red, White & Blues” Now in Rewrite & Edit Phase Or “The Agony and the Ecstacy of Editing, Part Three””

I know-I’ve been away for a while and you’ve been wondering what the hell is going on, right?  Here’s the low-down…

Finally got completely through the manuscript last week.  Much yellow highlighting was was done, which as I’ve mentioned is very, very good!  HOWEVER, there were a few areas that needed beefing up, so it is all the more important that these “possible deleted pages” (the highlighted ones) do, in fact, get the axe.  I feel fairly confident that this will, indeed, happen.

Now onto the next read-through, which I started a few days ago.  I am 91 pages in (the manuscript stands at 436 now, single-spaced).  In this stage, I am taking note of what “Microsoft Word” has “green underlined” (“wordiness”, “fragment sentence”, “passive voice”, etc) and deciding whether to correct or ignore its suggestions.  Many authors say that you should uncheck the proofing tools, but I like to check them all and then decide what is valid to my writing style and what is something I should consider changing.  It is daunting to see your manuscript covered in green and red lines (red designates misspelled words), but I’ve learned to take the suggestions in stride.  My writing style is more important to me than technical aspects of writing, many of which readers either don’t care about or don’t know to look for anyway.  As long as it makes sense, is grammatically correct and the spelling is correct, I believe that the writer has much leeway in how to share the story.  That, after all, is part of your voice as the storyteller.

So after I complete this read-through, I will have a friend read it through and take note of the highlighted portions.  I will need a reader (other than myself) to decide whether something is fluff and can be tossed on the cutting room floor or is actually important for the reader to know.

Wish me luck!

Amazon Author Page Likes Linked to More Promotions

Fellow authors say that getting “likes” on your Author Page on Amazon will encourage them to promote your book, so can everyone please just click on this and like it? http://www.amazon.com/L-V-Sage/e/B005L4LY78/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0