Category Archives: controversy

Michelle Evans Spirals in with Spiraling Out of Control and Raffle for $200 Amazon Card

Mich2 - CopyWelcome, Michelle Evans, to the Scribes!

Thank you! It is such an honour to be here today on Katy Lee’s blog. Our booksellers and publishers today want to be clear on knowing where a novel will fit on the shelf before they will sign a new author. After a whole lot of feedback from both Christian and secular professionals, I discovered my novel was on the fence. It didn’t fit well on the general market shelf and it isn’t a Christian fiction book.

I found myself at a position of decision time. Should I rewrite my novel to be more Christian or more secular? Or was it time to go Indie and publish the story as it was, the way I believed God wanted it to be told – real, raw and relevant.

Katy asked me where I blurred the edges… in Spiraling Out of Control (through my Spiralling Out of Control PREVIEWChristian world-view) you will find under-age consensual sex, under-age drinking, nightclubbing and drugs. The main character Stephanie is not a Christian and does not choose to change her ways in this novel. Though her best friend, Tabbie, does have an encounter with God and regularly brings up spiritual ideals in conversations – this frustrates Stephanie no end.

Though I haven’t shown the graphic detail, it is a pretty heavy read.

For these reasons, I am marketing Spiralling Out of Control to the general public 16+ and the Christian market 17+ audience .

Thank you for making those marketing guidelines clear. Surprises are fun, but in this case, readers need to be informed. Readers, Michelle is offering her book for 99 cents from 12/1/13-12/16/13 as part of the John 3:16 Book Launch. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Here’s a little more about Michelle, and be sure to continue on to learn about the raffle for a $200 Amazon gift card.

Michelle is married to an awesome man. She spends most of her days educating, socialising and sporting their four children and her nights writing.

She lives on the Gold Coast of Australia and believes you can find healing and hope when you read someone else’s story, fiction or truth. Her life is full and at times overflowing but she wouldn’t have it any other way.     http://michelledennisevans.com

Spiraling Out of Control:

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal … Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.

Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.

Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

This novel contains adult themes.

Book LaunchFor a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card, between December 1 and December 16, 2013, enter the John 3:16 Marketing Network Rafflecopter drawing at: http://bit.ly/Christian_Books

M. Leighton Pulls Her Book From the Shelves

Hello, Scribes Fans. Sugar here. I’m sure some of you may know that indie author M. Leighton pulled her book UNTIL I BREAK from the shelves today.

Why? That’s a very good question.

If you want a synopsis of the book click HERE. I learned about this after seeing a conversation on Twitter about it. For me 97% of Twitter is white noise but this topic grabbed my interest and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. An author pulling her own book? Not because of low sales, not because it was poorly edited or badly written but because it was too dark, too ugly for some readers tastes.

Here’s what Leighton had to say about it.

When I wrote Until I Break, I could’ve watered down the story, made it more palatable, easier to accept.  But as an artist, I didn’t want to cheat Sam and Alec out of their story.  As I’ve said before, life isn’t always pretty, but I had hoped that the majority of people would be able to see beyond the ugly to the wonderful story of love and acceptance and healing that was embedded in Until I Break.  Sadly, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.

So, rather than risking people misunderstanding Sam and Alec and, therefore, me as a person and author, I’m pulling the book from publication. It will no longer be available in any format from any source after tomorrow.  Yes, I could leave it out there to earn money, but every cent would be bitter, knowing that there are some who not only don’t “get” the story, but who are misunderstanding it in a disheartening way.

Every book is not for every reader. We all know that. And no matter what we write we always know that there are going to be readers out there who don’t like or misunderstand our work. I think that’s all apart of being a writer.

And as another writer that makes me so dissapointed in Ms. Leighton. If you want to read her entire post click HERE. We’re writers here so we know what it’s like to pour ourselves into something and I can tell that from Leighton’s words that she loved these characters and their story. I’m sad that she pulled it down. I sad that she cared enough about what a few people thought that she had to hide it from the world. I’m sad that she didn’t say F YOU and stand by it. 

Part of me gets it. Our books are like our babies and we want to protect them, but sometimes being a good mother is letting your baby go out there into the world and letting it fly. I wished she would have let it fly. Especially since it seems that more people loved the book than hated it, more people thought it was insightful and thought provoking and compelling. 

Part of me thinks that Leighton is pulling some big trick on us, that by announcing that she was pulling her book she drove people into a frantic rush to buy it and see what was so dark about it. Last night her book was number 6 on the Amazon list. Even I was sucked in and Until I Break is so not my kind of book. And if it is a trick it’s damn near brilliant. I hope she is laughing all the way to the bank.

So what is your take on this? Would you pull a book that you loved even though some people didn’t understand it?

Rest in Peace, Duchess

Hi, Scribettes and Scribes. Suze here.

Jeanne Cooper 1928-2013
Jeanne Cooper 1928-2013

I was going to talk about my recent trip to St. Louis today, but yesterday’s news made me think about something else. Jeanne Cooper, the matriarch of my favorite soap opera, The Young and the Restless, has died. I don’t know if the part will be recast. On one hand, no one can replace her. Jeanne Cooper was Katherine Chancellor (on screen, anyway), and I for one would have trouble accepting anyone else in the role. On the other hand, the longest-running storyline is the feud between Kay Chancellor (her son Brock always called her Duchess) and the wonderful, scheming Jill Foster Abbot, and that’s always been the pivot point on which the whole show turns. Without Kay, we’re going to feel lost for a while until we get our bearings and see which new direction the show will take.

As writers, we can learn so much about plot and character from the soaps. One of the brilliant things the writers of Y&R did in the beginning was to give Kay some pretty big and scary demons. Her husband was in love with a much younger woman (the aforesaid Jill); Kay became alcoholic; she killed her husband in a deliberate car wreck where she intended to kill herself too, but instead survived. This formed the basis of the conflict between Kay and Jill, and although there have been times when they’ve reconciled (at one point, it looked like Jill was Kay’s daughter given up for adoption. This was later proven false), that underlying hatred of each other was always there. And when things got bad for Kay, the writers could always make it worse and send her back to the bottle so she’d have yet another internal/external struggle.

We hear so much about GMC–Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Well the Kay Chancellor storyline (click here for the Wiki article, if you want to read a synopsis) illustrates that beautifully. And as for plots, of course they’re outrageous. That’s why we love the soaps! But notice how every single episode ends on a hook, and there’s a bigger hook on Friday’s show to bring the viewer back on Monday. While your plots might not take the crazy twists and turns of a soap story, every chapter should end on a hook, big or small. Every book should end making the reader satisfied but wanting more (your next book). And if you ever need inspiration on how to throw rocks at your characters (remember the classic advice: Run your character up a tree. Throw rocks at her. Get her back down.), nobody throws rocks like the writers of soaps. Abducted by aliens? Secret babies? A long lost twin back in town and bent on revenge? Why not?!

So tell me. Do you love the soaps? What’s your favorite show (whether or not it’s still running)? What character keeps/kept you coming back for more and why?

WWFD

A few weeks ago, a collective gasp was heard throughout social media when Amazon acquired Goodreads. This strange, yet brilliant acquisition got me thinking.  WWFD. What would Fusco do?  What would I do if I owned Amazon, acquired Goodreads, and planned to take over the book buying universe?  Yeah, my brain can be used for evil. I have a day job. I’m well versed in sinister.

So, I did what I do when the axis of evil takes over my brain: I listed all the ways I’d put the collective fuck to authors, publishers, and the book buying public by ram-rodding them into buying what I, Great Ruler of Amazon, wanted.

Here’s how:

  1. Consume data like it’s covered in chocolate: So far, Goodreads users have treated the site like it was their own personal safe haven. They added, uploaded and reviewed books, and they thought, quite foolishly, no one was watching.  Oh. Hell. No. Not only were the good folks at Goodreads recording everything you clicked, liked, and TBR’d. Now, they’re turning that data over to Amazon, to make the company smarter, faster and more efficient at selling you shit you don’t need.
  2. Biatchslap the Author:  I love authors.  Some of them are my friends, clients and BFF’s. However, nowadays, thanks to Amazon and CreateSpace, everybody’s a fucking author. Whether they should be is another blog for another day. But, if I owned Amazon/Goodreads, anybody who could form a complete sentence would get the screws handed to them if they wanted to advertise on my site. You see, now, I’ve got the data to the readers you want.  Look out bitches, it’s gonna cost ya. Sure, I’d sell it–if it were legal. Thank God it’s not. So, instead, I’ll tell you to bend over and reach for your ankles while I decrease your royalties and up your cost to target your readers.  Just leave your money on the nightstand, dear author. Oh. Wait. You don’t want to pay me to advertise your book? That’s alright.  “NEXT!!!”
  3. Beat the Big 6 into Submission: See that, that’s me, Amazon/Goodreads, the fat kid in the sandbox. It’s time to play by my rules. While over the years I’ve appreciated your love of the written word, chase of trends, and airplane reads, I’d plan to send to you running for cover and only publish shit no one reads, like poetry and recipe books. In fact, I’d beat you back so far that it would force you to become smaller, niche, and more nimble by keeping your overhead low, print runs smaller and expectations realistic.  My plan wouldn’t be to shut you down altogether. While I could easily be the only book selling game in town, I do need a dog to kick once in a while.
  4. Line my pockets with gold: Amazon is in the publishing game for one reason, and one reason only, to grow revenue.  And once my pockets are filled to the brim, I’m going to look to other ways to exploit the arts for my own financial gain.  I’d fool the public into recording their own music, creating their own video games and to share with friends, or starring in their own feature film.  Who needs Hollywood when you’ve got me Amazon/Goodreads/Chocolate Data Covered Fat Kid?

It’s probably a good thing I don’t run Amazon. I’m old school. I like things the way they were. I like to read books and not feel forced to write a review, like the author on Facebook, or download the next series to my Kindle HD, superfast e-reader spy gadget.

So, no more Goodreads for me, if you need me, I’ll be reading a good book, in hard cover, at the library.

Writers Survival Guide to Menopause

Writers Survival Guide to Menopause

PJ here, and I’ll bet you’re wondering what menopause has to do with writing. For those of you struggling to put words on the page through sleepless nights, power surges (aka: hot flashes) that make you feel like your hair is on fire, or trying to focus through the foggy haze of hormonal upheaval, you know the answer to that question. For those of you not there yet, consider this a head’s up and a public service announcement.

Are you ready for a frank discussion about menopause? There…I said it. I’m still amazed how many people are not comfortable discussing this natural part of aging. It’s not like we’re trying to keep it a secret or bringing to light some controversial topic. If you’re squeamish about discussing such personal issues, feel free to move on to the solutions list below. But if you feel like you’re among friends here, read on and know that you aren’t alone. I’m here to share my experience and pass on what worked for me. (This is not intended as medical advice. Do your research and talk to your doctor to discuss your options).

MY STORY:  I went through “the change” a little early. Although I’m mostly on the other side of it now and I’m not even fifty, the age of onset varies greatly, depending on the woman. Symptoms started at about forty for me. Irregular periods after years of being like a clock in sync with the moon. At first, heavier and more frequent than normal, and then months of skipping entirely, causing me to sweat the possibility of pregnancy a few times—not cool when both of my sons were already grown and out of the house and I wasn’t married yet to my sweetheart. According to doctors, you aren’t officially in menopause until you’ve gone a full year without menstruating. Until then, whatever symptoms you’re having are considered peri-menopausal and will likely go untreated.

More than one way
More than one way

 So then came the hot flashes. OMG! There were times I had a dozen or more hot flashes in a day, and I’m not talking about a little heat. Think of what it would feel like to put your face in a five hundred degree oven and keep it there for about a minute. Breaking out in a sweat every time I put my hands on a massage client when all I wanted to do was tear off my clothes and stand under cool water was totally not cool…pardon the pun. I began having trouble sleeping, waking at three a.m., tossing and turning until six, and then, just as I fell asleep again, I would have to get up. Talk about sleep deprivation torture! I did this for about two or three years, often getting up and writing for those few sleepless hours, trying to make use of the nightly torment and keep my sanity. But the next day sluggishness was brutal and added to the crankiness that was so uncharacteristic for me. I finally understood why those “old” ladies I knew as a child were so grumpy. They were in menopause! Even wearing a bra was irritating enough to have me worming it off in the car after a long day. I’ll admit, I chewed out a few grocery store clerks and made unkind hand gestures to trucks and SUV’s that cut me off or gave me a look…you know the look I mean. But it wasn’t until the worst thing that could happen to a romance writer happened to me. (Come closer…I’ll whisper this part…my sex drive went out the window.) That was the final straw. I needed help! Fast!

After first turning to the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels by Laurell K. Hamilton with mixed  and temporary results, I decided a visit to my Naturopath was in order. She listened to my woes, prescribed my constitutional homeopathic remedy (an entirely different post), and we discussed some natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy (taking synthesized horse urine just sounded all kinds of wrong to me!) A note to you informed menopause researchers out there: What I did is different than “Bio-identical” therapy, which is another way of treating hormonal imbalances with natural substances that mimic estrogen and progesterone, but requires guidance from a doctor who specializes in that treatment protocol. Feel free to look into it. I’ve heard very good things about it. You might also find some great tips in a book called WHAT YOUR DOCTOR MAY not TELL YOU ABOUT MENOPAUSE  by Dr. John Lee.

This is what worked for me:

1)      I took over-the-counter herbal supplements called Estrovan, and later, Remifemen (the Estrovan worked moderately well for about a year before my Naturopath told me to try switching.) I found the Remifemen worked better for me. The essential ingredient in both of these products is an herb called black cohosh, which in combination with some other herbs and vitamins helped greatly with the hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. I took one in the morning and then I took the Night Time relief brand before bed. It worked far better for me than taking sleep medicine that made me drowsy and foggy the next day, or the chamomile tea that had me up staggering to the bathroom several times a night. With a few good night’s sleep a week, I began to focus better and feel less depressed and irritable.

2)      I also changed my daily vitamin to include 1000 IU’s of Vit. D, 1500 of Calcium and 1000 mg. of Magnesium. I found a single vitamin (Complete Menopause), that had everything I needed at my health food store  and took one in the morning and one at night. I also added an oil blend that included fish oil, evening primrose, and flax oil–another super combination that can be hard to find, but worth looking for. If you have any doubts about whether you are lacking in these vitamins, or if you are on medication of any kind, check with your doctor and have a blood test done. Many of our aches, pains, and physical/emotional symptoms are due to lack of Vit. D since most of us aren’t getting enough sunlight sitting in front of our computers a gazillion hours a day.

Note: Diet and nutrition are critical in feeling your best at all times of your life. Let me just say that sugar is killing us all, but that’s another post!

3)      I layered my clothes, wearing a tank top or short sleeved shirt and adding a light sweater or having a shawl to throw on and off easily since the temperature changes internally were dramatic. Shortly after a hot flash, I would get a chill and a desperate thirst. I kept a water bottle with me at all times, including next to my bed for those middle of the night power surges that had me throwing off the covers and feeling as dry as a desert. (For the sake of our squeamish readers I won’t get into the all too common “dryness” problem.)

Incidentally, things that aggravate hot flashes? Why chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol, of course. Could the gods be any more cruel?

4)      Believe it or not, exercise helped! Aerobic activity for twenty minutes three to five times a week makes all the difference on so many levels. It’s not uncommon for women in menopause to gain as much as ten to twenty pounds in just a couple of years due to metabolic changes, food cravings, depression, fatigue, etc. Those lovely curvacous sculptures the Renaissance artisans depicted were undoubtedly of mature menopausal women. Does the term “sagging middle” mean anything to you? (And I’m not referring to your pacing problems.) No wonder those ladies wore robes–no skinny jeans for them! 

There’s no point in white-washing it. Aging and change aren’t fun, but  they are inevitable, so if you want to come out on the other side of menopause healthy, you’ll fight the fight and make it work for you. Bottom line–staying active is being proactive!

5)      ON THE PLUS SIDE! Yes, there is a plus side, other than the obvious absence of our dear aunt “flow.” Menopause can bring on an incredible surge of creative energy (my theory is that our bodies are transforming all that “baby making” creativity that we no longer have evolutionary need of, into mental, emotional and spiritual creativity. It’s not surprising that menopausal women take up hobbies such as quilting, knitting, painting, photography, yoga, and yes…writing. There is a wisdom, peace, and quiet strength that comes with this rite of passage that is hard to describe until you get there, but even with all of the challenges—and maybe in spite of the challenges—we are transformed to a higher state of being. Eventually, we come back to being ourselves, only better. (Hold onto that thought gentlemen.)

 We may be a little less patient with foolishness since we’ve learned to value ourselves and our precious time, and likely we’re wearing a less than pristine earth suit (the shelf life of the human body is about fifty years—anything after that requires high maintenance and parts replacement), but more than ever, we are part of a sisterhood. I appreciate and respect women so much more than I did when I was young—a sign that I have grown in respect and love for myself over the years. Just remember, we are in this together and through sharing our experiences, we can help one another through the rough spots.

Perhaps you could ask Santa for a portable fan for Christmas. Happy Hot Flashes!

Sweet relief!
Sweet relief!

 Any other tips for beating the heat and surviving menopause, dear writers and readers?

 

 

What Writers Shouldn’t Do… Part 2

Hi there. Sugar here. Last week we talked about the crazy things writers shouldn’t do in order to get the attention of an agent or editor. This week we are going to discuss things writers shouldn’t do in general.

Bash Other People’s Work. Especially on social media.

Honest, well thought out reviews are one thing, but I saw a writer bash a conference speaker’s presentation on Twitter.  That’s BIG don’t in my book. Not only did I think, what a bitch, but I also thought it was petty and unprofessional. Now I won’t ever buy that writer’s work simply because I don’t respect them for being unkind about another person. We all have our opinions, but if you can’t say anything nice keep your big fat mouth shut.

Act High and Mighty

I met a NYT bestselling author whose books I genuinely enjoyed, but after meeting her I haven’t bought another one of her books. Why? She wasn’t nice or gracious or anything you would expect from an author who was meeting fans. The lesson: always be humble and gracious because if you aren’t, no matter how good your books are, people won’t buy them.

Go It Alone

I can’t say enough how awesome writer’s groups are. But even if you can’t make your local writer’s  group meetings join online groups. Connect with other writers on Twitter, Facebook, anywhere writers congregate. The support and advice are invaluable. Writing can be lonely. Make friends where you can.

Listen to Too Much Craft Advice

Writers are a helpful bunch of folks. It seems like everybody is dying to give advice, even when you don’t ask for it. But be very careful what advice you listen to. Not everybody knows what they’re talking about it. And you as the writer knows what’s best for your work.

 

Stop Writing

Getting published is hard. For most of us it takes years and years of rejection. And for some of us it may never happen. But don’t stop writing. Most of us write for the love of it. Not for the promise of fame and riches.  If you stop writing then you cease to be a writer. So keep it up, even when it can be discouraging.

That’s it for the shouldn’ts. Lets talk about some of the things writers should do. Any and all comments are welcome.

 

Exercise…your right to vote

PJ Sharon here, with a slight departure from writing about…well…writing. I will return to regularly scheduled  “writerly” postings next week.

It’s election Tuesday, and I’m proud to say, I voted! Many heartfelt thanks to the fabulous ladies in this picture (courtesy of Wikepedia) who are celebrating their right to vote, a fight that was finally won in 1919 after a centuries old battle.

When I was growing up during the seventies and eighties, my mother was very active in town politics. Even with seven children, she committed herself to making a difference and believed strongly in the power of women to sway the tide. She worked tirelessly on behalf of candidates she believed in and was instrumental in getting more than one State Representative elected with her grass roots efforts. Mom had the tenacity of a bulldog and the enthusiasm of a cheerleader. A well-loved and friendly woman, she had no trouble spreading the word by making phone calls and knocking on doors with her persuasive and sometimes vehement arguments on behalf of a particular candidate. I may not have thought so at the time, but today, I see my mom as the trailblazer and heroine that she was.

For the last five years or so of her life—which was taken all too soon at the age of fifty after a long battle with cancer—she worked as a bulletin clerk at the capitol in Hartford just so she could be close to the action and keep tabs on Connecticut’s political up-and -comers. I remember sitting around our kitchen table with my brothers and sisters stuffing envelopes and making signs. Being included in such important matters at an early age gave me a great appreciation for the political process, and I, like my mother, believe that women have a collective voice that has the power to change the world.

 I consider it both a privilege and a responsibility to exercise the rights that so many before me fought to win. Women, especially, took up the cause for the right to have a voice in a world dominated by men who held the power to make decisions for them without any consideration for how women felt or what they wanted. In response, the Women’s suffrage movement spanned nearly a century, and spread across the globe in the 1800’s and into early nineteen hundreds with many ups and downs before “the vote” was finally won in the US in June of 1919. Through perseverance and suffering, enduring prison and torture, these early American heroines laid down their lives so that today, I could have a voice. With all of the crazy statements and misstatements that have been made in this campaign regarding women’s issues, I am saddened to think that as much as times have changed, some things remain the same. Once again, the rights of women hang in the balance. I hope you will all take some time to look beyond the rhetoric and examine the issues, make an informed decision, and get out and vote today.

What is your earliest memory of politics? Did you learn about it at home or in school?

 (NOTE: Specific political views or inflammatory comments are not appropriate in this venue and negative comments will be removed.  The above opinions are mine alone, and not necessarily those of the Secrets of Seven Scribes as a whole. Please be considerate.)