Banning ‘white’ male heterosexual authors from publishing

neganlucilleRecently I’ve read about the scheme to stop ‘white’, male, and/or heterosexual authors from publishing for a year. Also there are special snowflakes out there who are personally boycotting such authors and encouraging others to go thou and do likewise.

Now, I know there are folks out there who think there is nothing more important that judging authors and other people by their sex, skin color or sexual behavior. But, really, is this proposed ban really necessary? Or possible?

Since the major publishing houses are run by left-of-center people exclusively, I’m sure many would participate in such a ban. Except for the fact that anti-discrimination laws on the books make it illegal. But what would happen if the laws were changed to make the ban possible?

The first thing banned authors like James Patterson would do would be self-publish. If the major self-publishing firms were participating in the ban, any web site that lets people download files in exchange for cash would do. And some struggling authors would publish e-books for free if that was the only way to get their work before the public for a year.

But what about the authors that stood to gain from the ban— the female, queer and/or person-of-color authors? Established authors in these categories might sell more books without being tainted, but for the young, up-and-coming authors, the ban might only get them noticed as ‘second-rate’ writers that needed special help to get their work published, in the form of a ban on competing, more popular authors. Some of these authors actually are second-rate, but only because they are young writers who haven’t yet grown as writers the way older, more established authors have. But if they gain their first writing contracts because of then ban, much of the public will see them as permanently second-rate.

What about the authors who, for whatever reason, keep their true sex, race or sexual behavior private? Will they be included in the ban unless they give up their privacy? If they are not, what is to keep the dreaded ‘white male heterosexual’ author from creating a minority female pen name to publish under? There was once a famous Gothic romance novelist who was, years later, revealed to be a male author. So readers can’t necessarily tell.

Finally, what if the publishing world, left-leaning as it is, decides to extend the ban— perhaps only in the case of certain authors who aroused ire by complaining about the ban or by self-publishing in spite of the ban. Or authors suspected of having conservative views which the left loves to characterize as being ‘racist.’ I would think an author under a five year publishing ban might find his career might never come back from it.

We haven’t yet got to the point where a publishing ban has gone through. But there are signs out there that a lot of influential people believe that such a ban, for the sake of ‘diversity,’ might be the only right thing to do.

Celebrating book reviewing, book sales and surviving heat wave

Celebrate blog hopWhile I have things to celebrate today, my Wildblue internet service is not one of them. I just got told by them that I’m over my usage limit again— even though I gave up Facebook games in order to save bandwidth for my writing career. So I’m unplugging the internet when not in use and getting up early to use my off-peak bandwidth.

But there is good news in my life. First, I made two sales of my poetry book, ‘surly petunia’ on Amazon.com which is a good start there. As you may guess, poetry doesn’t sell well, and ‘quirky’ poetry even less. But I am encouraged.

Next, now that I have decided to devote my efforts to becoming one of the top Amazon.com reviewers in my genre, I am developing methods to create reviews more easily. Mainly I keep a legal pad handy when I read and note down the key points of the book including character names and such. Here are some of my recent reviews:

Shatterworld – Lelia Rose Foreman

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century – Peter Graham

The 8-Minute Writing Habit – Monica Leonelle

If you should happen to read any of my reviews — thank you! — and if you happen to think one or more of them is a helpful review for someone deciding whether to buy the book, please click ‘yes’ in the place at the bottom of the review where they ask ‘is this review helpful?’ That would be a big help to me.

And now, the final thing to celebrate— I am surviving the hot weather in spite of my lack of air conditioning. I bought an air conditioner unit but there are difficulties in installing it. It’s hard on me because of my poor health but I am surviving by drinking a lot of ice water and not doing much around the house. Today my big project, besides this blog hop, is doing the laundry. Some of the laundry. Well, maybe one load of laundry and some folding.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. If you don’t know about it— it’s a great way to get started getting more people reading your blog. Go to Lexa Cain’s blog to sign up, here: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

IWSG: Book Review Reciprocity

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

The online world demands a lot of reciprocity. If you join a writers’ group on Facebook, and you want people to like and comment on the stuff you post there, you have to like and comment on other people’s stuff. If you want your stuff retweeted on Twitter, you retweet other people’s stuff.

But the biggest part of a writer’s dream is not about reciprocity— it’s about loads and loads of people liking your books and buying them and you not having to buy any books from all of THEM in return. That’s what you have to do to make it as a writer— sell to people including faceless strangers who only know you through your books.

Part of that dream these days is that a decent portion of your readers will write a review and that’s important. But real  writers not in the Stephen King category have another source of reviews, and that is a circle of writing friends— the kind of friends you can make in the writers’ groups I mentioned above.


Facebook Writer’s Groups

Aspie Writers (for writers with Asperger Syndrome and autism, new group, needs members.) https://www.facebook.com/groups/616192595221372/

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers https://www.facebook.com/groups/366357776755069/

These are two of the groups I’m in— do searches at Facebook to find ones right for you— look for ones with real interactivity going on, not just people posting their books for sale.


Of course sometimes you are caught in a no-reciprocity trap. You write a review for this one, you write a review for that one, you write 2 for that author and 3 for that one— and they never think of reviewing your book in return.

That’s where I am at with my poetry book ‘surly petunia.’ (The title is taken from the first poem I wrote as a serious writer of poetry— amazingly it stood up over time, mainly because it’s weird and funny. Or sad. I can never tell those emotions apart.)

The excuse I get is that it’s POETRY and they don’t know how to read POETRY and review POETRY because, I suspect, they’d rather read someone’s overweight & second-rate fantasy tome than read a few pages of POETRY.

So today, I am taking the Nuclear Option and adding a poem to this post. Don’t worry, it’s a short one. And it’s in my book ‘surly petunia.’ Which is here: https://www.amazon.com/Surly-Petunia-Nissa-Annakindt-ebook/dp/B00NZ96EYE


catbox thriller

red explosions lying on the sidewalk
where just anyone could steal them
how can you treat your mothers so?

and why oh why the denizens
of minor towns with hidden hitlers
chastely placed beyond white window curtains

and I walk by as if quite ordinary
spies were sleeping in my breast pockets
still with their heads on they look better.

(c) Nissa Annakindt 2014


This was a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. It’s a great way to build up your blog if you are a writer. It happens the first Wednesday of each month.

5-star review can mean ‘This Book Sucks’

tenfromLenI often go to that online bookseller named after women with one breast (Amazon.) And noodle around looking for something new to read. And often I come upon something by an indie author with 9 – 17 reviews, all 5-star. And my usual conclusion is that this book is crap, likely reviewed mostly by the author’s mother and loving aunts. I tend to read the 3 and 4 star reviews first, and then glance at any 2 stars. I think I find a better class of books that way.

There is a sad trend toward making 5 star book reviews the norm, which is very bad. Because it makes people think anything less than five is a bad review marking a real stinker of a book.

This is awful. We need honest and fair reviews to help us find books we will like. I don’t insist on only perfect books. Some of my favorites are books where the author has a good story but is struggling with learning some of the writing skills. Honest and fair reviews help me know what I’m getting when I buy a book, and somehow if I know in advance that the book has some weak points, those weak points interfere less with my enjoyment.

Here are what the star-reviews mean on Amazon.com:

5 = I love it.

4 = I like it.

3 = It’s OK.

2 = I don’t like it.

1 = I hate it.

You can see that in a logical world, we would all know that 5 and 4 stars are good reviews, 3 stars can be good, bad or indifferent, and 1 and 2 are bad reviews. All modified a bit by the accompanying written review.

Very recently I have decided to become a serious Amazon reviewer. I am working to get more book reviews written. And in the meantime writing a few product reviews to add to my review total. [My profile page is here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3GH4IA9SLC3YN You can read my most recent reviews there and if you find one of them ‘helpful’, please consider up-voting it, which will help my chance to rise in the reviewer ranks.]

My preference is to review books that are in genres I read, and that seem like I might enjoy them. These are the kind of books that I can review the best.

When it comes to getting a 5 star review from me, it’s kind of like getting a 10 from Len on Dancing With the Stars. You shouldn’t expect it, it’s very hard to get, and when you finally manage to get one, it really means something. I like to tell people seeking reviews from me that only 2 of the 4 Gospels get a full 5 stars from me (Luke and John.) And I regard the Gospels as being the Word of God!

Four-star reviews are my workhorse rating. Four-star reviews mean that it’s a good, solid book and that any flaws are minor and easily overlooked when you get caught up in the story. I give out a lot of 4-star reviews. Though I’m always happy when one of my favorite 4-star authors makes a Great Leap Forward and produces a 5-star book.

Three star reviews mean a book is OK. OK is good. If you don’t believe me, try reading a bunch of books that are LESS than OK. Three star books have more flaws and sometimes have a weaker, less compelling story. But if there are things to like in the story and characters, I will make sure to mention it. I prefer to review 3-star books with enough good qualities that the review is essentially a good review and will gain the author some readers in spite of any flaws. I haven’t had to give out any three-star reviews that were mostly critical yet. I probably wouldn’t bother except for a flawed book where the author was begging me for any review, even a bad one.

A two-star review means that the reviewer didn’t like it. That’s a very subjective term. There are great works of world literature that I don’t like, but I know they are well written and would never give them a 2-star. I think a fair-minded reviewer would rarely if ever bother to write a 2-star on a book. On a flawed product, especially a pricey one, maybe. It should only be used on a book that, objectively, has a number of deep flaws, and perhaps a moral issue in addition (porn or praise for Hitler and/or Stalin on top of incomprehensible writing would do it for me.)

One-star means you hated it. Can a Christian morally ‘hate’ anyone’s book? Or any person with a moral code? Most of the one-star reviews I’ve read were mean-spirited, cruel, and often based on the reviewer’s prejudices. Some fine non-fiction authors I know recently wrote a book about the Obama presidency that had some negative things to say. When the book came out some nasty people gave it one-star reviews without reading it— one admitted to reading no further than the title. I would never write a 1-star. I am a fallible human being and I would not judge any author’s book quite that harshly.

Do you write book reviews? What star ratings do you usually give out? Are you wary of books with nothing but 5-star reviews?


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The problem with cheesy Christian fiction

shock-of-nightThis morning as I sat down to write my supposed-to-be-daily blog post I discovered a new comment on this blog by a new blog visitor called Rachel Nichols. I jumped over to her blog to write a return comment (a practice I should do much more often) and found that she had written a fine piece about cheesy Christian fiction. Go HERE to read it. (Please come back to read the rest of this!)

OK. Rachel’s not the first of us to notice cheesy Christian fiction. Why does this happen? Well, partly because a good percentage of ALL fiction is second-rate, lackluster and has problems. But there is another factor.

Many years ago a number of Evangelical Christian publishing houses had strict rules for Christian fiction: no character could drink, dance, play cards, wear makeup or use strong language or even minced oaths (gee, gosh, darn.) A story about someone ‘getting saved’ was a required part of the plot.

Why were they so strict? Because at that time there were a lot of Evangelical Christian churches where the pastor preached these things. And they also classed ‘reading novels’ as a sinful behavior— unless they were utterly pureminded Evangelical books by Evangelical authors that kept to those restrictive rules.

No Evangelical author that I know of has anything good to say about those old rules and the cheesy fiction they could produce. But now Evangelical fiction has a different problem. Some of the bigger Evangelical Christian publishing houses have been purchased by major secular publishing conglomerates owned by people with Progressive values who prefer to publish only authors that are properly Progressive. But they do like to make money. So they actually prefer to continue the tradition of bland, ‘cheesy’ Evangelical fiction, and in addition I believe they are making demands that certain Biblical teaching— such as that about human life matters (prolife) and homosexual behaviors— go unmentioned because Progressives find them ‘hateful.’

But today there are many Christian authors— Evangelical and Catholic— who write for newer small presses. Or they self-publish their books via CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu and Smashwords. I know a number of authors in this category, and interact with many of them online.

These authors don’t write the traditionally cheesy Christian fiction too many people have been bored by. Some pull back the Christian elements of the story so much that it’s more like worldly fiction without the sex and swearing. Others find interesting and different ways to put Christian elements into the story without being stereotyped.

Here is a list of Evangelical Christian authors I read and recommend: Mike Duran, Lelia Rose Foreman, Beverly Lewis, Kerry Neitz, Marissa Shrock, Wayne Thomas Batson, Matt Mikolatos, Karyn Henley and Donita K. Paul. And here are a few Catholic Christian authors: Dean Koontz, Karina Fabian, Declan Finn and Daniella Bova. You might also look on this blog’s page called ‘Reviews I Wrote’ because I give a few hints as to whether the author is Christian and what the genre is. It’s a new page that will be added to.

One final word: at a time of my life when I was NOT a Christian, but a Norse Neopagan, I read a Christian book from time to time and found a few I liked. And now that I’m a Catholic, I find books by non-Catholics and non-Christians that are entertaining and don’t violate my values (much.) So if you are a grownup reader and not easily swayed, it’s perhaps possible to be rather open in your choice of authors.

Fighting Censorship: CTRL ALT Revolt.

 

66e97ea9f8371e1ba7fb1f7470515d72-bpfullhttp://www.amazon.com/CTRL-ALT-Revolt-Nick-Cole-ebook/dp/B01BKWKBCS/

Once upon a time, science fiction was the genre for the thinking man. Now, some thoughts are forbidden— thoughtcrimes— at least as far as megapublisher Harper Collins is concerned. In ONE CHAPTER of Nick Cole’s book, a Thinking Machine decides that if humans abort their own young, they might react to the advent of Thinking Machines the same way. It wasn’t a major theme of the book. Just a moment. But it had to be censored. Read more about the story here: http://www.nickcolebooks.com/2016/02/09/banned-by-the-publisher/

But there are some things to Celebrate about this sad situation. Nick Cole turned to self-publishing, and his book is now available to the public both in Kindle and in paperback version. As Stephen King, a left-wing writer once said, if you find that they are banning a certain book, READ THAT BOOK. As trad-publishing becomes more and more centralized in just a handful of companies, we need to become indie readers, and not just suck off the politically correct publishing teat.

Another thing to Celebrate is that it is SO easy to fight back against censorship these days. Even if you are a ‘nobody’ as far as the world is concerned. You can just start Tweeting Nick Cole’s blog post (link above) and sharing it on Facebook and blogging about it. For that matter you can Tweet/share THIS blog post. You don’t need to leave your house or even get dressed. Just do it!

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. You can find the blog hop here: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

Do you have a Facebook author page? I have one, here: https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/        Please visit sometime! There are kitten pictures. And you can share a link to your author blog and I will like it if possible.

Pius Tales/Declan Finn’s Writing Journey

PiusTalesNissaRecently I got a copy of author Declan Finn’s Pius Tales— a collection of short stories related to the Pius Trilogy, a thriller series based on the idea that some not-so-well-hidden secrets about WW2 Pope Pius XII trigger a lot of murders, escapades and explosions. ‘Pius Tales’ continues in the explosive tradition.

But there is a bonus— a series of essays by Declan Finn telling his writing journey of imagining, writing and selling the Pius series. I always like to see how other writers do their work, since the only writer I actually SEE at work is me and I’m not that ‘normal.’ Though I’m not sure any writers are ‘normal.’ We are probably all just different shades of weird.

The origin of the Pius series came when Finn read a book about Pope Pius XII. And then a lot more books. And discovered that in 1960, the history, at least as regards this pope, changed. Before 1960, Pope Pius was the heroic pope that fought against Hitler and saved mass numbers of Jews from the Holocaust. Afterwards, he became ‘Hitler’s Pope.’

Finn includes in his account how he went from his basic idea to find the proper setting (Rome) and the proper character-group to star in his thriller. And then the fun process of trying to get the thing published.

As for the stories in the book: Tinker, Tailor, Goyim, Spy recounts how character Scott Murphy came to join the Mossad. Even though he’s neither Israeli or Jewish.

“Erin Go Boom” tells the story of how Catholic priest Fr. Frank Williams, SJ, manages to stop a terrorist attack on a St. Patrick’s Day parade without using direct deadly force on anyone.

In “Deck the Maul,” Finn blows up Christmas. Or, at least, a shopping mall filled with angry dwarfs, protesting redheads, and, of course, terrorists.

“Oh Little Town of Bethmayhem” starts off with Sean Ryan dangling a bad guy off the Empire State Building, and segues into Scott Murphy infiltrating a terrorist plot in Bethlehem at Christmas time.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a clean read, so you don’t need to worry about the kids reading it when you are not looking. And it’s got explosions. I like explosions.

Declan Finn’s Books on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Declan-Finn/e/B008I8JO2G

Declan Finn’s Blog: http://apiusman.blogspot.com/

Declan Finn’s FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Pius-Man-a-novel/143750083289


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