Bon Voyage Leonard Nimoy

The little-known Jewish history of the Vulcan greeting. We already miss you, http://widdershinsfirst.com/2015/02/27/bon-voyage-leonard-nimoy/

Widdershins Worlds

There are going to be all sorts of tributes all over the interwebz, so I thought this one might be a little different.

He will be missed.

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Time Travel In Science Fiction

http://goo.gl/ulUNMe
Want to read more books about #TimeTravel and discuss it with #authors? Join us for Episode 23 of *CHANGES* and participate with me and Lorrie Farrelly ! Wed., March 4, LIVE, 10 – 11 EST USA on G+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/clf7dlkpim0p4dg1qe40ag0jpe0 or Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiSOPuxVHXc any time. Find Lorrie here: https://sites.google.com/site/yourbestreads or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorrieFarrellyAuthor .

Shelf Talk

~posted by Dave H.

One of the most enduring concepts in science fiction is that of time travel and its consequences. From Ray Bradbury’s famous short story “A Sound of Thunder” to the BACK TO THE FUTURE films and beyond, time travel has remained a core idea in the science fiction genre. The concept itself dates back even before the creation of the genre: both Charles Dickens (A CHRISTMAS CAROL) and Mark Twain (A CONNETICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT) used it in their work. However, most science fiction fans date the first full use of the idea to H.G. Wells’ famous novel THE TIME MACHINE. Published in 1895, Wells’ novel follows an unnamed time traveler into the far future where he discovers a human race that has diverged into two different species: the peaceful, childlike Eloi and the brutish, light-fearing Morlocks. Originally meant as a commentary on class…

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Giveaway Directly from Amazon.com? Now You Can.

still have to follow all state and federal tax laws, but go for it: Amazon now hosts givewaways!

chrismcmullen

Giveaway SP Vol 1 No purchase necessary. See official rules: http://amzn.to/GArules

NEW AMAZON.COM GIVEAWAYS

Now you can give away free physical products, like printed books, directly from Amazon.com.

Amazon hosts the contest:

  • Amazon hosts the giveaway.
  • Amazon determines the winners.
  • Amazon ships brand new products directly to customers.

How does it work?

  • Find the US product page for a physical product available directly from Amazon.com.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Look for Set up an Amazon Giveaway. Click the gray Set up a Giveaway button.
  • Select Lucky Number or First-Come, First-Served. A Lucky Number giveaway will last longer.
  • Select the number of winners. For a Lucky Number giveaway, also select a number for which entrants (like every 25th entry) will win the contest.
  • You may add your Twitter account and require entrants to follow you on Twitter. This is optional.
  • Click the yellow Next button.
  • Complete the welcome page. If you…

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**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything from Dee Fox!

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Reviewer: Dee (Devorah) Fox

logoAuthorsDen

Some books are like a train. I hop on and let it take me for a ride, I just go where it goes. Spanners asked me to get in the engine compartment and help the conductor. I felt that I had to sign on to the concepts and by believing, be part of the story. I liked what the author was trying to do by writing in the present tense. It never stopped bringing me up short. However every time I had to reorient myself I found myself thinking about time and how it’s just a construct. I also appreciated the humor in the depiction of how throughout history our society’s thought leaders and innovators were participants in the Many Worlds Collective. Of course they were! The series is ambitious and thought provoking. Not an easy read. I’d even say it takes a little work but well worth it for the experience.

TSS v1

Thanks, Dee! Dee Fox was a guest on Episode 18 of CHANGES conversations between authors: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq  
#Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: CHANGES G+ HOA  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/  

Read this and more reviews and download Volume I for FREE on Amazon:
http://goo.gl/0yN5GE

For other formats, Volume II purchase links, reviews, interviews and more, visit my website; look right and scroll down on http://www.sallyember.com

TSS v2

All logo and cover art for The Spanners Series by Aidana Willowraven.

#Read about Guest #Author Sally Ember, Ed.D

#Read about Guest #Author, ME, Sally Ember, Ed.D., via Chris Graham’s “The Story Reading Ape”‘s blog. Thanks, Chris! Visit, comment, argue, share. http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2015/02/27/read-about-guest-author-sally-ember-ed-d/

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

SEI have been passionate about writing since I was nine years old, when I wrote and published my first story, a fairy tale about an inquisitive princess (see? I started out autobiographical). Always competitive, I’m absurdly proud that I won prizes for my poetry, stories, songs and plays early in life. Did I use up my creativity good karma too soon?

I was born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, which seems to mean that my life has been infused with change. Currently, I meditate, write, swim, read and host my LIVE, almost-weekly Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) *CHANGES* conversations between authors, Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM EST USA, in St. Louis, Missouri. I have one older brother and two younger sisters (none lives in St. Louis but we’re in close contact) and I used to have seven step-sisters and two step-brothers (we’re not in touch).

I began…

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Why I write about #politics, #elections, #issues and support Emily’s List #feminist #candidates

I WILL write about #politics, #elections, #issues and support Emily’s List #feminist #candidates…and so should you!

feminist activist causes
image from: http://www.list.co.uk

Maybe you think “social media” should just be for posting pictures that are funny or cute. Maybe you don’t want to offend or alienate anyone. Maybe you’re a coward. Maybe you’re undecided. Maybe you’re ignorant and don’t know enough about anything political to write about it. Whatever your reasons or rationales, cut it out.

If you are a USA citizen or a citizen of any country that allows you to vote and you do not exercise that duty and right for EVERY election, informing yourself (which is easier to do than ever before with information EVERYWHERE) and taking a stand on candidates and issues as adults who care are motivated to do, than I want you reading this post to inspire and educate yourself.

If you’re already politically active and savvy, great: SHARE!

First of all, there is a sea of candidates out there for almost every elected post and many campaigns of mis- and dis-information attempting to muddy the waters further. What’s an interested, concerned citizen to do? Utilize the groups that vet candidates and issues FOR us, that’s what. Find a group/entity who screens, analyzes, evaluates and presents, according to YOUR values and interests, those you’d want to vote for, complete with reasons, and information about whom and what to vote against as well.

Propaganda v science
image from: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com

Better yet, if you’re so inclined, RUN for office. Offer yourself to serve on a Board or Commission. Join/donate to/volunteer for a local or state chapter of the League of Women Voters, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Organization for Women (NOW), or whatever else strikes your fancy. Start small and keep going, because city council members, school board members, mayors, sheriffs, judges and many others in local offices later become state or federal senators, congressional representatives for the state or federal government, state governors, Supreme Court judges, presidents!

As a life-long feminist committed to environmental, social, educational and other more radical values/components that mesh with my Buddhist, nonviolent foundations, I choose appropriate news sources (mostly nonprofits to boot) to help me learn and decide.

Here are a few I use and recommend:

  • Emily’s List http://www.emilyslist.org/, whose mission is: “We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.”
  • Mother Jones magazine http://www.motherjones.com/, which has been analyzing and reporting from the center of core issues, reporting what many do NOT report and reporting truthfully, paid off by NO ONE, for decades
  • B*TCH Media, whose tagline is “Outsmart the Patriarchy,” which I love even though I do not like their name, and whose mission is to respond to “pop culture,” but does so much more than that http://bitchmagazine.org/
  • The Daily KOS, which has a weekly open thread on ELECTIONS, and with whom I often disagree but respect http://www.dailykos.com/
  • Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzales and the team at Democracy NOW!, independent, ad-free, on TV and public radio http://www.democracynow.org
  • Dissident Voice, which is “a radical [online] newspaper in the struggle for peace and justice,” that sees itself as providing “hard-hitting, thought-provoking and even entertaining news and commentaries on politics and culture that can serve as ammunition in struggles for peace and social justice.” http://dissidentvoice.org/
  • Upworthy.com, which is a curation site, gathering from many sources, including YOU, if you submit, to re-present “things that matter.” http://www.upworthy.com/
  • The Feminist Wire, with an inspiring and laudable mission: “to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally. Of particular critical interest to us are social and political phenomena that block, negate, or limit the satisfaction of goods or ends that humans, especially the most vulnerable, minimally require for living free of structural violence. The Feminist Wire seeks to valorize and sustain pro-feminist representations and create alternative frameworks to build a just and equitable society.” http://thefeministwire.com/

JFK quote
image made from John F. Kennedy quote

What else can we/should we do, if you believe, as I do, that change is necessary and that many important changes do occur via our elections and efforts in those directions? Here are some ideas. Comment and add your own, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

  • Some of you are lucky enough to have an alternative newspaper right in your area, still publishing in print and/or online (The Valley Advocate (New England, USA sites), The Bohemian (CA, USA, San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast sites), The Boston Phoenix, Women’s Voices Magazine (many locations around the world) are some of my favorites).
    Read them. Subscribe. Submit comments online. Submit “Letters to the Editor.” Tell others. Buy ad space. Distribute or allow your business to become a site for distribution.

  • Donate to and support National and local Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, other alternative online or actual broadcasting entities. They are fewer and further between than ever and are always operating on shoestring budgets with many volunteers. YOU could volunteer!
  • Maybe you want to get your news from a culturally, ethnically or group-specific source, like Al Jazeera, The Advocate (LGBTQIQ), Univision, The St. Louis Jewish Light, Black Press USA, or whichever you prefer.
    Support them. Donate. Buy ad space. Volunteer. Comment online. Support their advertisers.

social change
image from: http://mariamuir.com

Use my sources and ideas or get your own, but get informed and work for the candidates you support, for the issues that matter to you.

It is UNACCEPTABLE to be passive and silent, more worried more about being controversial than effecting necessary changes. Be bold! Just because you are an artistic sort doesn’t mean you get to hide!

artist as activist
image made from quote by Larry Neal

Get involved. March. Demonstrate. Speak. Donate. Host. Participate. Invite. Write. Solicit.

VOTE!!!!!

Paper Pirates Possibility

#Bookpirating info especially regarding print copies printed and sold on #eBay

Jo Robinson

Something’s got me seriously confused. I saw a post about getting your books taken down from some pirate sites, so as a matter of interest I googled mine again, and found that not only has African Me been loaded on to heaps more torrent sites for free or paid download, but that now Shadow People has joined the pirate party as well. The thing that’s got me wondering is that they’re both being offered on ebay too as paper books. I stopped looking after four different sellers there. (Click on pics to see them bigger)

African Me Satellite TV Robinson Jo 1492719102   eBay.png1

At first I thought it could be a reader selling them second hand, but when I had a proper squiz I saw that they’re being offered as brand new/unopened. The sellers have multiple copies too – ten each mostly in stock, and they’re selling them for less than what Amazon’s charging for them.

Shadow People The Finding Robinson Jo   eBay

I looked…

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A First Look at Advertising with Amazon

If you pay or might pay for #book ads, read this first! #marketing

Nicholas C. Rossis

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books by meowmeowmeow21.deviantart.com

I’m sure you remember my step-by-step tutorial on how to advertise with Amazon. Three weeks later, I have some preliminary results, which, as promised, I’m sharing with you, so that you can learn from my mistakes.

In a nutshell: I’ve failed. The experiment has so far been a disappointment, albeit one offering fascinating insights.

You may remember that I had done my math and knew that, to make any profit, I had to bid under the proposed $0.50.

Now, for a peek behind the scenes: whenever Amazon is about to show a product page, a small bidding war will rage for a few nanoseconds. Amazon will check to see if that product is linked to any ads. If more than one ads want to be displayed, they will bid for that space, until they reach their cut-off threshold. So, if I have specified 5c as my maximum, then an ad…

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#Astrobiology, #Electrochemistry: Yes! These are #Scientific Fields of Study

If you have any interest in #microbiology, #astrobiology, #electrochemistry, #alien life, general #science, check out these excerpts and then read the entire article.

MIND BLOWN! Amazing scientists! Excellent article. I LOVE THIS!

Electric Bacteria
image from http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net

Dr. Shelley Minteer, Ph.D., electrochemist, University of Utah

Shelley Minteer

discovered that mitochondria—–the power-generating units inside the cells of all complex cellular organisms, including humans—–can interact electrically with surfaces outside themselves. That fits with a well-accepted theory that mitochondria evolved as free-living bacteria that later merged with other cells, forming a permanent partnership. Even after a billion years, mitochondria may retain some of the capabilities they had in their days of independence. It is possible, then, that we all have a smidgen of electric alien behavior locked away inside us.

Dr. Kenneth Nealson, Ph.D., University of Southern California

kenneth-nealson

discovered that Shewanella oneidensis can deposit electrons directly on minerals—”breathing” a solid substance—via tiny chemical wires.

Shewanella
image from techportal.eere.energy.gov

Dr. Annette Rowe, Ph.D., a postdoc researcher in Nealson’s group, ‘… isolated a whole slew of electrode-oxidizing bugs,” she says—roughly a thousand strains in total. So far, she’s identified 30 of them, all previously unknown….Six of Rowe’s new bacterial strains can live on electrons alone.”

“The vast majority of Rowe’s strains must be grown on a cathode, not in a petri dish. And they indicate an immense and largely alien ecosystem here on Earth. The National Science Foundation calls it the ‘dark energy biosphere’ and is funding Rowe to learn more about this parallel microbial universe.”

Because Geobacter metallireducens can eat waste and produce electricity, the bacteria could prove useful in microbial fuel cells.

Dr. Moh El-Naggar, Ph.D., also at USC, created a series of videos showing

electric nanowires stretch from the outer membranes of Shewanella oneidensis bacteria….[H]e [shot] a series of mind-boggling movies in which you can watch Shewanella reach out to an electrode in search of a place to deposit electrons. Sometimes the bacteria will link up with one another, possibly fobbing off electrons on cells that are able to accept them. [link to one video in original article, below]

moh-el-neggar

How does this all fit together? Maybe this helps you….

Astrobiology chart
image from http://astrobiology.nasa.gov

Or, just enjoy this:

cartoon of geobacters at work
image from http://biobasedpod.blogspot.com

The article’s author wrote: “Their Earth seems to be a world built on cooperation and sharing, a far cry from the more familiar world of cutthroat Darwinian competition. ‘Unless I miss my bet, that’s what we’re going to see when we get to the subsurface: little pockets of life with a socialist community, all working there together. But I won’t tell that to my Republican father because he won’t like it,’ Nealson says.”

Inspired by and drawn from HAVE WE FOUND ALIEN LIFE? MICROBES THAT EAT AND BREATHE ELECTRICITY HAVE FORCED SCIENTISTS TO REIMAGINE HOW LIFE WORKS—ON THIS PLANET AND OTHERS, by Corey S. Powell, in February, 2015, Popular Science, pages 32-39 http://www.popsci.com/have-we-found-alien-life

Saturday hippie: Tassels, studs, lace

What did YOU have? Were you wearing “hippie” clothes last century (or still wearing them)? I had: tassels with tiny bells that jingled hanging from the bow I made with the drawstring tie of my Indian-print skirts; little mirrors on the bodices of my “Peasant” blouses; and, fringe (painstakingly created by hand-removing the weft threads from about 1″ of the cuff on each leg) hanging from the cut-off cuffs of every pair of dungaree shorts and long pants. Some of my jeans had studs but I wasn’t into those or lace.

“Top 10 Scientific Benefits of Compassion” for #1000Speak for Compassion day

“Top 10 Scientific Benefits of Compassion” is a reblog from Emma Seppala from December, 2013, that is still very timely.

http://www.emmaseppala.com/top-10-scientific-benefits-of-compassion-infographic/

Excellent! Everyone and the planet and all beings benefit!

Kindness Blog

To view correctly, please click the image and then click again to magnify!

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Kobo Launches Emerging Writer Prize to Celebrate Debut Works by Canadian Authors

#Canadian #debut #authors #contest

Kobo Writing Life

emerging writer prize

Monetary prize and marketing support awarded for books in three categories: Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, and Non-Fiction

Did you publish your first book in 2014? Do you have a Canadian passport? If so, you may want to consider entering Kobo’s first annual Emerging Writer Award of Excellence.

Created for debut authors in three categories: Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction (beginning with Mystery, with a different genre showcased each year), and Non-Fiction, each winning author will be awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize and promotional, marketing, and communications support; winners will be announced in June.

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“Be A Part Of A Movement: #1000Speak for #Compassion” 2/20/15

from the organizers:

“Be A Part Of A Movement: #1000Speak for #Compassion” 2/20/15

1000 Speak for Compassion

“How cool would it be if we could get 1000 bloggers on the same day to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement etc.?
“We could call it 1000 Voices For Compassion.
“Who’s in?
“When: February 20, 2015

“How: Write a post TODAY on your blog or Facebook or Google + or LinkedIn or Instagram or any other social media you use about #compassion. What does it mean to you? How has it affected you? How can we bring more of it to those who need it?

“Really, there are no rules, just as long as it’s about compassion.”

From the Facebook group devoted to this event:

Let’s get 1000 bloggers to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgment, care for the environment etc, and ALL PUBLISH ON THE SAME DAY (Feb 20th) to flood the Blogosphere with GOOD! Use the hashtag #1000Speak to promote this event.

I am one of the more than 1000, today.

My post about compassion:
As many of you know, I am a Buddhist (in this and many lifetimes, apparently) in the Tibetan Vajrayana Nyingma tradition. During the many times I’ve listened to teachers speak and I have read the writings of others on topic of compassion, the definition of compassion is what stays with me consistently. According to Buddhism, compassion arises spontaneously within us and moves us to do our best to alleviate the suffering of others.

For me, the companion to this definition is the Buddhist view of love. In the Buddhists’ view, when we feel authentic love, we are moved to speak, think and act in ways that would be most likely to bring about the circumstances that generate happiness for the object of our love and do our best to prevent their being unhappy, even when it means we put them first, above ourselves.

Furthermore, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has been quoted repeatedly, as other teachers before and around him have, also, as giving advice along these lines: “If you want to be happy, focus on helping others be happy.”

Add in the multiple lifetimes component, or karma, and we hear this advice repeatedly throughout Buddhist teachings: “If you want to discover what your past lifetimes were like, look at your present behaviors, thoughts and words. If you want to plant the seeds of your future happiness, look at your present behaviors, thoughts and words.”

NOW is what matters most.

Dalai Lama Compassion

Then, there are the instructions and advice for daily living that arise from teachings on The 6 Paramitas (usually translated as “6 Perfections”), such as Pema Chödrön, an American woman who became one of the first Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns, teachers and authors, spoke about in The Places that Scare You, page 98

THE SIX WAYS OF COMPASSIONATE LIVING
Generosity. Giving as a path of learning to let go.

Discipline. Training in not caushing harm in a way that is daring and flexible.

Patience. Training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed. If waking up takes forever, still we go moment by moment, giving up all hope of fruition and enjoying the process.

Joyful enthusiasm. Letting go of our perfectionism and connecting with the living quality of every moment.

Meditation. Training in coming back to being right here with gentleness and precision.

Prajna (or transcendent wisdom). Cultivating an open, inquiring mind.

The Places that Scare You cover

Putting that all together has given me a great blueprint for my life. I base my minute-by-minute and larger decisions on determinations of how I can be most effective in helping others be happy, especially those I love, by practicing the 6 Paramitas. I combine that with seeking what I am able to accomplish that might help alleviate others’ suffering, even that of strangers or beings I do not know or come into contact with in my current circumstances.

With those aims in my heart, I make it my daily spiritual practice to try to live my life imbued with compassion and love for others.

I frequently fail.

I am impatient. I am selfish. I get angry. I am self-centered. I forget my aims. I lose sight of my heart-centered, larger goals by getting trapped in minutiae and short-term satisfaction. I want what I want and too often I see everything as a zero-sum game I am determined to win. I have been trained in these values, these behaviors and these perspectives: they are second-nature to me.

That’s the reason it’s called spiritual practice: we have to keep trying, keep re-dedicating ourselves to the attempt, moment by moment, day by day. These attitudes do not come naturally to me; I was not provided with a lot of role models on how great it is to be kind, to be generous, to be diligent, to be focused on others’ happiness, to put myself second. I have to strive more sometimes than others, but I usually have to try. Hard.

It is difficult. Scary. Frustrating. Discouraging.

But, I am resolute. Committed. Determined. I have taken vows to this effect, starting with the most basic vow that all Buddhists take, the vow not to harm.

My best moments are characterized by a look back, comparing it to now, and noticing that I haven’t had to put in any effort to feel and act in compassionate ways. When these urges arise spontaneously, I am even more joyful. I know I have had a successful moment when the love I feel for someone really does inspire me to be unselfish and put them first.

When embodying the 6 Paramitas as best I can is making others as well as ME happy, it’s a good moment, a good hour, a good day, a good life.

Excellent moments are surrounded by many in which I am ordinary, selfish and ungenerous.

I re-dedicate myself and continue to practice.

Just keep going

Some days, some moments, my compassion and love practices seem to have taken root.

I hope yours do, also.

Participate in #1000Speak by following this link and the links within the following post.
http://driftingthrough.com/2015/01/16/be-a-part-of-a-movement-1000speak/


Very cool #Author moment report: Last month, as I was writing this blog post and looking for an image via Google’s free images, I put in: “‘Keep Going’ Buddhist,” and what came up?
The book cover for my own book, Volume I, The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything!!! It was pretty far down, but it was there!

It is part of my practice to write Buddhist-themed books with practicing Buddhists as characters, but how did Google know that? Wow!
http://goo.gl/ujmgns

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Happy #Tibetan New Year (#Losar)!

Happy #Tibetan New Year (#Losar)!

Feb 18-19, year 2142, of the Female Wood Sheep/Goat: “Generosity, sustaining a strong and steady path toward goals, and keeping the peace are key qualities of Sheep Nature.”

“Challenges of Ram: locking horns, overly competitive, lawsuits, arguments, tempers flaring (your basic prickly behavior), making too many sacrifices, stubbornness and resistance.”

losar2015lowres

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/02/the-year-of-the-wood-sheep-an-astrological-map-of-the-year/

Does Fiction Matter? Fiction, Fantasy & Social Change

Best part of an excellent essay (loved the part about the “Radium Girls,” too; excellent analogy): “My bigger concern is that, when we package sociopathy as ‘romance’? Sadists as Alpha male heroes? That is a confusing message (and a dangerous one) for everyone, but most especially for those still forming opinions and identities. In fact, I probably would have had NO problem with FSoG had it been in the genre of psychological thriller or horror. But slap ‘ROMANCE’ on it? Whole ‘notha’ ballgame.”

I DID read ALL three 50 Shades books when they came out, just to see what all the fuss was about. It was as if I were watching a train wreck and could not look away. So, I know whereof I speak; I did review these pieces of junk: bad writing, ridiculous and insulting (to both males and females) characters, horrible plotting (what little there is of it), terrible underlying and overt messages.

Read Kristen’s post. She’s insightful and accurate.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, via Mikko Luntiala Image via Flikr Creative Commons, via Mikko Luntiala

We had a very lively and interesting debate over the 50 Shades cultural “phenomena” on Friday. I’m deeply grateful for all those commenters who posted such thoughtful opinions, even those who didn’t agree with me. I actually am not afraid of people disagreeing with me andhave zero interest in my blog simply being an ideological echo chamber.

Yet, there are a few things I’ve “heard” in the comments or even on Facebook which leave me flummoxed and I believe these assertions call for a closer examination.

It’s ONLY a Story. It is FICTION. JUST a FANTASY.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

One argument that baffled me was this idea that 50 Shades is just a book and only fantasy. I do not begrudge James her success nor am I lambasting anyone who likes the books. To…

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Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups
Reposting from one year ago, since it’s all still true and useful and I have new Followers/Readers

Everyone know the biggest drawback to #self-publishing is the isolation. Yes, every #author who doesn’t collaborate in their #writing writes alone. However, prior to the explosion in self-publishing, most books and ebooks that came to readers went through several other sets of eyes and had several editing and revision drafts done by others that helped polish and tighten the writing prior to publication.

artsy-writer-working
image from vidyasury.com

Today more than ever before, pieces of writing from short stories, blogs and articles to full-length books, both nonfiction and fiction, are getting all the way to a reader with no other editor than the writer. This is not a great situation for most readers or writers.

Because many writers seek professional companionship and critiques as well as audiences for drafts and new ideas, writers’ groups have sprung up for many centuries, both formal and informal. These groups usually meet regularly. Size can vary from a pair to a large group of a dozen or more.

The activities in the group can include public readings and/or sharing of written material with participants’ immediate oral comments, pages returned with mark-ups and discussions of the shared pieces. Locations can vary and many are not available free, so some groups charge a fee or require members to pay dues to cover costs and perhaps invite a speaker/presenter to conduct a workshop or give a talk on occasion.

writers_group 1
image from http://www.audreypress.com

Writers’ groups often appoint or hire a facilitator to guide and contribute to the critique. In better-run groups, this leader also keeps time and makes sure the comments are constructive and fair.

However, some groups are not well-run. The ground rules are not clear. Time is not equally distributed because it isn’t tracked well. Comments are not always fair and constructive. The facilitator dominates the discussion. Discussions veer away from the writing into personal stories and tangents introduced by participants. Suggestions are made that are not conducive to the writer’s intent, restrictions, topic, genre or format.

The diverse types of knowledge and experience among participants and in a leader of a writers’ group can be rich sources of varied perspectives OR generate too many irrelevant and unhelpful comments.

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

CONS: An unskilled or distracted facilitator
— allows too many destructive comments to occur and this encourages more of the same
— allows the exposed author to experience immediate hurt feelings or bewilderment
— allows the writers to leave the critique session discouraged and confused by conflicting advice and too many off-topic remarks
— offers too many comments and dominates the discussion, shutting down, arguing with or interrupting other participants.

Writers in poorly-run groups can be led astray, which can causes them to depart from writing in their own voices and to lose sight of their personal or professional writing purposes. Many writers get discouraged or even “blocked” by attending poorly run writers’ groups.

BEWARE! Better to be isolated than to attend a group that operates negatively.

critique
image from thewildwriters.com

PROS: An skilled or focused facilitator
— leads a well-run group peopled by dedicated, experienced writers as well as “newbies” who each feels comfortable sharing and contributing
— trains and supports members to utilize the time effectively for receiving and offering constructive critiques, with newbies learning from old-timers the most effective methods for delivering and receiving criticism
— can foster an atmosphere of professional support that provides many gems of advice and new points of view for each member, even ones who don’t share in every meeting.

These productive sessions are wonderful catalysts for the writers who share drafts and any who attend. Authors in well-run writers’ groups return from each meeting with new vigor for editing, revising and creating new content.

Tips for Writers’ Groups:
1) Productive critique sessions are NOT riddled with “we loved it,” “it’s great,” and “keep going” with little or nothing else.
Critics must provide reasons for their opinions, especially when they’re positive, so that writers learn what we do well and can replicate our successes.
Critics must also defend their opinions that tell a writer to make changes by offering suggestions for revision or reasons for the ways the writing doesn’t “work” for the reader/listener.

2) Without the prompting of a skilled, focused leader, opinions may be offered with insufficient or no reasons given. Offering positive or negative opinions without rationales is not useful to a writer and should not be allowed.

3) Focus, clear ground rules (e.g., the requirement to give reasons for opinions, taking turns, sharing time equally) and giving both emotional and cognitive responses to a piece of writing are all parts of a productive writers’ group.

4) If YOUR writers’ group is not productive and positive enough, make an effort to change it or leave it. Start your own or join a different group.

5) Networking has never been easier. http://www.Meetup.com is a source of in-person writers’ groups. You can also check your local library’s, college’s, county’s/parish’s, state’s/province’s and country’s organizational listings for professional writers’ groups in your geographic area or genre. Check Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and many writers’ associations and genre-centered groups online and around the world for possible writers’ groups, critique opportunities and other networking options. Some groups are now meeting online and virtually via SKYPE, iCHAT, Google Hangouts, etc.

CA writers club logo

If you are a writer seeking a group, I hope you find or start a great one!

Best of luck in your writing.

2015 Paterson Prize for BFYP

YA, MG and mixed genre writers who write for youth: you have 1 month to prepare and submit your book for the 2015 #Paterson Prize.

Writing and Illustrating

Did you have a book for Young People published in 2014? You have until March 15, 2015 to submit your book for consideration for The Paterson Prize For Books For Young People. Scroll down to see last years winning books. The ones I viewed were not poetry books, just in case you thought that due to it being sponsored by the Poetry Center. 

paterson contestbfprulesHere are the winners from last year.
paterson2014 booksClick Here for Application.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!

One of the pioneer writers in the then-fledgling Young Adult genre is having a birthday. Thanks, Judy Blume, for so many great books for children and teens which adults also love.

Rachel Carrera, Novelist

If you are a female human over the age of twelve, and you’ve never read Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, then you must look outside right now and see if in fact you are living under a rock.

When I was a kid, I loved the school days when we got those magazines (which were more like four page flyers) where we could select books to purchase.  (Weren’t those Weekly Readers or Scholastic Magazines?)  I also loved when the public library’s bookmobile would come to school or when school would have a book fair.  Okay, the truth is, because I went to Christian school, a lot of what we got to read was censored and had to be on “an approved Christian reading list,” so I missed out on a lot of my friends’ favorites such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. …

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The Viridescent Investor

Excellent post and great recommendations/inspiration to GO MORE #GREEN, especially in financial choices. I just joined a Credit Union: where do YOU #bank? Also, Inger (the post’s author) was my very engaging and LIVE guest on Episode 20 of *CHANGES*, which you can watch any time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq
#Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on *CHANGES*, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: *CHANGES* G+ HOA  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

11 Tips for Promoting your Book

Great to-list for #marketing your #book, especially for #indies.

Kobo Writing Life

 An essential to-do-list for independent authors

from whitefox 

There’s more to self publishing than just writing the book. Promotion is almost as important as putting pen to paper, but many authors don’t know where to start. Luckily there are a few relatively simple tricks you can employ to give your book a better shot at commercial success.

  1. PICK THE RIGHT PRICE POINT 

If you try to flog your book too cheap, readers will assume that it isn’t very good. Set the price too high and they won’t be willing to take a punt on you, an unknown author. According to Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre (here) , $0.99 for an ebook is so low that readers can’t resist, $2.99 tends to perform even better, but $1.99 is an awkward middle ground; it is cheap enough to suggest a lack of professionalism, but not cheap enough to convince readers…

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International Book Giving Day is nearly here!

I didn’t know about this: International Book Giving Day is this weekend! Buy a book and give it away!

Rhino Reads

International Book Giving Day is THIS WEEKEND! A whole day dedicated to giving books to children…what could be better?

If you are new to IBGD you can find out more here. You can also download beautifully designed bookmarks and bookplates to tuck into the books you donate. Find them here.

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20150211-104246.jpg

It was IBGD 2013 that inspired the first Rainbow Library. The Rainbow Library has expanded and developed in the last two years and for IBGD this year I will be concentrating on my new partnership with HomestartUK. They are a charity helping families with young children deal with whatever life throws at them. They provide one to one support for parents through their volunteer scheme. This is hands-on support right at the most crucial time in children’s development. I really believe in Home-Start and the difference they make to children’s lives.

Before Christmas I donated a big…

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The Swimsuit Edition, Where Sexism Knows No Size

In a post filled with lines calling out our the unmediated #sexism and #objectification of women in our culture, and, in particular, “‘Sports’ Illustrated,” for its ongoing #misogyny, I want to savor and quote, this is my favorite:
“So instead of angering what it perceives to be its base, arguably the nation’s most prominent sports magazine pauses once a year to print up a jerk rag and promote it as some kind of sacred tradition.”

Brava and thanks for writing, considering so thoughtfully and well, and posting. MORE of this! You are hereby invited to guest blog on MY site ANY Wednesday (Wednesday is my guest slot day).

best to you,

Sister Feminist,

Sally

The Melissaverse

Apparently we’re all supposed to celebrate the fact that an average-sized woman will appear in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

I’m told it’s some kind of triumph that, of the many women pointlessly objectified on the pages of a magazine that’s supposed to be about sports, one will be somewhat heavier than all the others. Sexism is so deeply woven into the fabric of sports in America that this, incredibly, is meant to represent progress.

Never mind that this year’s cover model, in addition to being exactly the size you’d expect her to be, is also waxed to within an inch of her life. Never mind that only average-sized model in the magazine appears not as part of an editorial layout but in an ad. Never mind that both women appear to have been liberally airbrushed, unless you believe neither of their bodies has a single stray hair, birthmark…

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What is Quantum Physics

@Quantumphysics 101 Excellent!

NOEMAYA

There is no field in modern science that is misunderstood or misinterpreted more than any other. Two reasons should be mentioned: First, quantum physics deals with the microscopic world, atoms and subatomic particles; it is a world inaccessible to our direct perceptions, to human experience as such. And as much as we like to but our logic and commonsense which are derived from shared human experiences cannot be extended to the realm of atomic phenomena. Even the physicist cannot imagine what an atom looks like. The second reason that has led to much misinterpretation is the desperation of modern man to find meaning, excitement, mystery and surreal phenomena to compensate for the lack of essence in his/her life. Thus, the field is open to people like Deepak Chopra who are the kind to take advantage of the mystery and stick exotic words such as quantum next to whatever it is…

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Internalized #Oppression: We All Have It Going On

What is “Internalized Oppression” and why do I claim we all have it going on?

If you have spent a lot of time in political activism, psychological growth, advocating for social justice/progressive causes and feminism, anti-racism, anti-Semitism and other anti-oppression movements of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and continuing, as I have, you would know what I’m talking about and have lived long enough to have unlearned some of the IO we all have. Or, you could have come to learn about IO some other way. If not, or if you’re interested in my perspective and some personal stories, keep reading.

I was first trained in 1977 in Massachusetts via the Movement for a New Society’s (MNS) Nonviolence Activism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_a_New_Society

The members of MNS consciously sought to develop tools and strategies that could be employed to bring about revolutionary change through nonviolent means. The three-part focus of MNS included training for activists, nonviolent direct action and community. The main location for MNS activity was in West Philadelphia. Other locations included Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Tucson, Western Massachusetts, and more….MNS was unusual in combining feminist group process, broad analysis of interrelated people’s struggles including class and culture, and personal empowerment techniques ranging from music and street theater as political organizing tools to Re-Evaluation Counseling.

I was also trained via Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC) in Massachusetts and New Hampshire starting in 1978 and continuing through 1986. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Re-evaluation_Counseling]

RC has ambitious social and environmental objectives, including, “The transformation of society to a rational, peaceful, non-exploitative, classless form world-wide. The preservation of all existing species of life and the re-creation of extinguished species. The preservation of wilderness areas and the creation of a completely benign environment over most of the earth, the oceans, and the atmosphere. The exploration of, and eventually becoming at home in, space.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was part of the “Clamshell Alliance,” a successful anti-nuclear energy group utilizing MNS and RC techniques and principles. We “Clams” prevented the second “tower” of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, power plant from being built. This and many other “affinity groups” like it across the continent worked throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s to dismantle the stranglehold the nuclear energy capitalists were gaining on energy production in the USA and Canada. We have them/us to thank for how few nuclear disasters there have been in the USA due to there having been fewer power plants built than proposed.

Nuclear_power_is_not_healthy_poster

MNS and RC were the grandparents of most modern USA and global social justice movements movements; believe me). Their teaching techniques, training exercises, formats for consensus decision-making, use of nonviolence, understandings of social justice issues and oppression and methods for transforming individuals as well as groups have been incorporated into almost every type of social and political change movement around the globe, including Arab Spring and Occupy.

They taught me about Internalized #Oppression (IO): We All Have It Going On.

Intersectionality thrives via IO, because the overlapping strength of each oppression with insidious inroads into us and each other creates the systemic continuance of them all.

intersectionality
image from http://decolonizeallthethings.wordpress.com

For example, Height-ism. I am short and getting shorter. For a Jewish/Eastern European-roots female born in the middle of the last century, it’s not uncommon. I stopped growing at age 12, at 5′ 1.5″, at which point I was considered somewhat tall. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t going to keep growing, since everyone around me seemed to be, nor that I was short, until we were being arranged in poses for photos for the high school yearbook in the beginning of my senior year (I know; how could I not know? Well, I just wasn’t thinking about my height). People kept telling me to “get into the middle” or would call out: “Short people in front,” pushing me forward. I looked around in shock: “Oh! I really am short!”

I then spent the last four decades comparing my size to many other people’s and always being shocked at who else was actually my size or smaller, because they all appeared to be SO SHORT but I didn’t see myself as that short. In my inner voice, I was contemptuous, ridiculing, and otherwise snobbish about their smallness, as if I were magically exempt from such derision. Luckily (?), I kept these thoughts to myself.

Randy Newman (amazing singer-songwriter and social commentator) did not keep HIS thoughts to himself. We should all be grateful to him…. We need to laugh, sometimes, at how ridiculous prejudice and bias are, without forgetting how damaging and dangerous these ideas can become when enacted or spoken.

randy-newman-short people

That is classic Internalized Oppression (IO): Version 1) believing ourselves to be outside of/better than/not really representative of the groups we actually belong to, we deride our identity group by condemning other members of it; Version 2) we condemn ourselves for traits considered to be endemic of that group.

With both versions, we perpetuate the cultural and institutionalized oppressions that already run rampant, adding strength to stereotypes and assisting the oppression machine to keep churning out misery. We collude with and give power to the oppressors by “owning” their perspectives. IO is so difficult to uncover or recognize that we actually believe these viewpoints are our own opinions, developed on our own, independently of anyone or any influence: that’s how deluded we are.

So it goes.

How does IO play out? Via sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, ableism, ageism, homophobia/heterosexism, transphobia, classism, etc., oppressions reign supreme. When those within these oppressed groups further and enable the oppressors’ aims in putting us down by loathing ourselves and each other for being members of said groups, that is IO at work.

Example: SEXISM: When women/girls, as individuals of an oppressed MAJORITY, FEMALES, adopt society’s negativity towards females, what happens? We then display “our” views of females by scornfully talking about other females at almost every age (and not just because of differing political positions, intellectual differences or disagreements). Worst of all, IO leads women to be the main enforcers/ perpetrators of some of the worst harm inflicted on female children and other women (genital mutilation, forced child marriage, sex trafficking, bride-burning, foot-binding).

Women/girls who live with unmitigated IO will be motivated to compete unfairly, gossip, spread rumors, backbite, jockey for position, believe in scarcity (zero-sum games) and operate in other ways that undermine each other rather than collaborate and support one another. We “sell out” our own gender in a usually unsuccessful attempt to gain favor from men or stand out as superior to other women.

IO rots “sisterhood,” pitting heteronormative (“cisgender”) women against gender-queers and lesbians, motivating lesbians to exclude female bisexuals. IO inspires white women to believe whatever the oppressors tell us if it seems we may “some day” reach feminism’s goals, such as when white men told suffragettes that abolition was “more important” than women’s having the right to vote, that women should “wait our turn”: most white women accepted this.

When women find it acceptable (not speaking up AGAINST this means you find it acceptable) for females to be labeled “bitches,” “whores,” “sluts,” “tramps” and whatever other derogatory monikers current trends are utilizing to put strong, powerful, sexually active, empowered women down, then that is also IO operating within and among us.

Tina Fey anti-sexism
image from http://www.hercampus.com

IO is in place when a coach tells a mixed-gender or all-male group of athletes to “stop playing like girls,” and the girls on the team or at the location spew hate on the weaker members, continuing the damage caused by this coach.

When mothers, female teachers, any females who interact with young people, dichotomize the children based on supposed gender-based traits so that the girls are positioned by other females as less important, less competent, less valuable, and are forced to be less active or presumed to be less able than the boys, that is IO in action.

Example: RACISM: Racist IO occurs when those from oppressed ethnic/racial groups have “oppression derbies” to evaluate (usually not in public, but with social media, increasingly in public) the relative status of each individual of that group by applying arbitrary, oppressor-based criteria. Furthermore, we devise ways to determine who has the least number or degree of whatever traits of that group are currently despised (curly hair, darker skin, slanty eyes, large noses, thick or thin lips, argumentative/interrupting speech patterns, accents, higher intelligence or perceived skills in particular areas, glasses, other physical features such as stature, body type, breast size, etc.). Then, we assign higher value to those who “pass” or who are taken for NOT belonging to that group over those who display more/stronger group-identified traits. IO wins, there.

no racism
image from http://www.sodahead.com

IO manifests when Black people tell themselves or others (or have TV shows/movies/ music videos/ books which demonstrate) that “lighter skin” is “prettier” or straighter hair is “more professional.”

Best first-read to unlearn racism? A classic, by Professor Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”
http://www.artsci.washington.edu/natsci/Search-committee-materials/unpacking-invisible-knapsack.pdf

ETHNOCENTRISM/ANTI-SEMITISM: When Jewish families determine that their child’s teenage nose is “too large” and encourage or require their child (usually a female) to have plastic surgery to “fix” (break and reshape) their noses, that is IO imposed by the parents onto the children. Similarly, hair-straightening, skin-lightening, lip-thinning or plumping and other feature-changing attempts all stem from some type of racist/ethnocentrist IO most of the time.

Example: ABLEISM: Those with different physical/mental abilities or disabilities position ourselves “above” as many others classified in this way as possible, striving to be seen and appreciated for our strengths, but not giving that same respect and value to those we place “below” us. This classification of individuals within an oppressed group by members of that group is also classic IO in action: we do the oppressors’ work for them.

When a paraplegic calls a quadriplegic a “crip,” that is IO. When we who are older and becoming more hearing-impaired respond with impatience to someone else who can’t hear well, or are self-deprecating about our own inability to hear clearly, that is IO.

AGEISM: When adults presume younger- or -older looking people are teens or elderly and therefore treat them with less respect, that is oppressive. When WE, as members of a targeted age group, have similar negative attitudes because of someone’s actual or presumed age, IO is taking charge.

Telling ourselves (and anyone else) that we/they are less capable, worthy, competent or otherwise valuable because of our/their age (whatever it is) is also IO at work.

HETEROSEXISM: When gay men deride other gay men for being “too faggy” or a “flaming ‘queen,'” or lesbians call other lesbians “bulldykes” or “lipstick lesbians” based on their appearances, that is IO. Being down on ourselves as bisexuals, believing we are “unclear” or people who “can’t make up our minds” means IO has taken over.

Some people believe that oppressed groups can “reclaim” derogatory labels, like “nigger,” “dyke,” “fag,” “kike,” “bitch,” “‘ho'” and others by using them among “ourselves,” but I strongly disagree and so do those who work within the oppression-reduction movements. Using the slave-owners’ terms for the slaves among the slaves does NOT “empower” them: it makes them colluders.

WordsThatHurt
image from http://goodmenproject.com

You don’t “liberate” a derogatory term by using it repeatedly. Instead, we give the oppressors and bigots permission to use horrible names for us publicly and strengthen those terms’ cultural importance because we use those names, too. I don’t use them at all, anymore.

IO gets its main power from us. When we hear messages repeatedly that we aren’t “good enough,” regardless of who we are and how we look, from advertisers that want to sell us products to “make us look better,” these messages creep into our psyches. We then exacerbate and facilitate this brutality onto our own self-esteem when we buy into the ideas that we aren’t attractive because of IO operating on our subconscious.

Example: AGEISM and SEXISM plus LOOKS-ISM: Women and men do not “need” to remove body hair to be “attractive.” Believing that body-hair-free men or women are “sexier” is a social construct, one not followed by most of the world and only recently followed even by modern adults. Body-hair-free adults look more like pre-pubescent children. How is that look perceived as “sexy” by anyone who is mentally healthy?

What can we do to eliminate or reduce Internalized Oppression?

Perhaps you’ll be willing to go on a hunt, excavating your own internal messages and searching for those that are oppressive in order to eradicate or neutralize them. I hope you will.

no isms allowed
image from http://www.industrialantioppression.blogspot.com

Read! Listen to Podcasts or watch videos on this topic: there are thousands of ways to recognize and then unlearn the messages we have internalized that build onto institutionalized oppression.

self-worth
image from http://ink361.com
PEGGY McINTOSh’s article

If your self-improvement efforts are not immediately successful, don’t be discouraged: it can take decades to “unlearn” the oppressive viewpoints which have been inculcated into us all. Just keep trying to notice them and not believe them: that’s a great start. Also, if there are workshops, classes, or other opportunities online or in person (better) to unlearn racism, sexism, etc., or to learn about social justice and oppression, please avail yourselves of them.

It’s never too late to become less biased and to learn to advocate more positively for yourself as well.

Next, don’t allow statements that perpetuate IO to go unchallenged. Speak up. Speak out.

Silence = assent is not just a bumper sticker.

oppression wins via silence
image from http://www.decolonizingyoga.com

#Writing as Excavation of the Soul

Repost from 12/2/13

For me, #writing fiction and poetry always involves digging up artifacts and dirt. My own and others’ buried treasures, junk, secrets and lies are uncovered, examined, deemed worthy “as is” or refurbished, cleaned up and presented within the text.

Writing #ClaraBranon, as her and about her, is the most autobiographical fiction I’ve ever written. I decided to gift Clara with most of my own “stories” and history, to see what would happen when a version of me is involved in the circumstances and relationships Clara encounters. It’s a roller-coaster for me, delving into my own life to pull up people, events, emotions, reactions, wishes, fears, griefs and successes and foist them onto Clara.

Usually, she does a lot better than I do or I already have with these events and has a much higher “success” rate with her conversations and intimacies than I can claim. In many ways, I feel envious of her. I also do not want her life, especially the public part. But, I do sometimes wish I had her personal strength and courage.

Oh, wait; I do. I must. I also have her creativity, the fire that burns within her, since I gave it to her. Of course I do.

Then, why is it so much easier to see this in Clara than in myself? I believe I make a character in my own image and deliberately make her better than I am only to discover that she can’t be better than I am because I made her. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the whole “God-made-humans-in-‘His’-own’-image” story has similar issues, yes?

As a fiction and poetry creator, as a #Buddhist well aware of the illusory nature of all phenomena, as a fabricator and dreamer, I am well aware of the fantasies I make into a semblance of reality with each paragraph or stanza I put into words. I paint pictures of scenes, drawing upon deep emotional bonds and reactions in order to do it, but we all know none of this is “real.” Right? Except for the parts that are true, that is.

The exhilarating, terrifying ride of writing one’s own stories in whatever forms is that others are going to read them and get to know things about me and my inner world I would never tell them, otherwise. My best defense, then, is to mix these true tales with pure fiction.

Sometimes serving up this admixture seems to be a cop-out move on my part, as I feel a taunting voice within me saying: “Na, na: you can’t know me! You don’t know what parts of this are ‘mine’ and which are completely made up. So there! Try and figure it out. I’ll never tell!”

This is the gauntlet every writer throws down to one’s readers: “Catch me, if you can!”

I do leave breadcrumbs for your journey, especially on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember and here in my blog posts. Happy treasure hunting, readers!

Please let me know what you find and what labels you decide to put on each trinket. We can compare later. Start with Volume I, This Changes Everything (NOW FREE) and ask: “Who is #EpifanioDang?” Move on to “Are there really #aliens coming or already here from the #ManyWorldsCollective?”
http://www.sallyember.com for buy links, reviews, interviews and more. Look right; scroll down.

Continue with a chapter-by-chapter analysis of world history, politics, biology, religions, the arts and meditation and keep going: The Spanners Series has so much to offer you, including Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, which released 6/9/14, and Volumes III and IV coming out in 2015!

Enjoy! Write Reviews! Share!

Is all disagreement “negativity”? When did that happen? I DISAGREE!

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO MY MIDDLE SISTER, W. ELLEN E. FLEISCHMANN, A MISSOURI STATE CHAMPION DEBATER, WHOSE BIRTHDAY IS TODAY!

Is all disagreement “negativity”? When did that happen? I DISAGREE, and I am not being “negative,” unless we’re in a debate, in which case my “side” is “con” (as opposed to “pro”).

This issue has arisen in various ways over the last two years or so, since I became a indie author, blogger and online participant. However, in my latest foray into online “conversations,” I engaged in an exchange that has been very disappointing.

An online acquaintance who moderates one of the Facebook groups I belong to has a public website that includes a blog where she often posts reviews. I’ve been following her site and occasionally reading her posts. Otherwise, we don’t know each other.

A bit of background: I don’t usually comment on hers or anyone’s reviews unless one is particularly well-written or I happen to vehemently agree or disagree with it, which was the case, here. This is a public site and she allows for comments.

This reviewer (who shall remain nameless) posted rave comments for the 50 Shades trilogy, including her wish to speak with E.L.James (making it seem as if she had an “author crush” on E.L. James, which I have no issue with at all). It was her calling the main relationship portrayed in 50 Shades “the greatest modern love story” of her time (this reviewer is about 20 years younger than I am, by my estimate; perhaps younger), that compelled me to respond.

I thought carefully about what I felt and thought and how I wanted to convey these bits, edited and revised my comments a few times before I posted them for approval. Then, I went on to my day’s other business.

Unfortunately, I received the following message (see below for our email chain) later that day.
Her decision not to “approve” or post my comment on her site and her intense, personal reaction surprised and appalled me, as you will see by my email response to her.

I’m not trying to start any kind of conflict or flame war. I really want to know what you all think. (See below.) Here are my main questions to you, my blog readers:

—-Are we supposed to withhold responding when we have ANY disagreement between us and any members of our online “community”?
—-Is ALL disagreement “negativity”?
—-Do we have to speak in “soft tones,” “soft-pedaling” anything that might possibly be critical, because so many writers/bloggers seem unable to tolerate being criticized?
—-Are we supposed to keep our sites (and purportedly, our lives) free of all conflictual conversations by not approving critical comments?
—-Do those of us who have criticisms to levy have to refrain or risk being called “trolls,” or banned/kicked out of review groups, comments sections, social network platform groups, etc.?
—-Do only “yes” people and “supporters” feel (and get) welcomed online?

not every critic is a hater

I can’t recreate my exact comment, but here is the gist:

Your post made me feel sad and I feel sorry for you. What world do you live in, that these two-dimensional characters and their dysfunctional sex and interactions constitute any kind of “love story,” much less “the greatest one”? James’ depiction of her disempowered, ignorant female lead character is insulting to women everywhere. The “billionaire” male lead is selfish, clueless about healthy relationships and awful to his “girlfriend.” The “plot,” thin as it is, is implausible. Some of the “play” depicted in the sex scenes is not credible or even possible (people have tried to recreate it with laughable and/or injurious results).

I reviewed and disliked all three books, giving many considered reasons. Please go read my reviews. I also consider E.L. James’ writing among the worst to receive public acclaim, so as an editor, author and reader, I challenge your evaluation of the writing of these novels. Your opinions caused me to feel discouraged.

Here are the first email I got from this reviewer, below, and our exchange below that.

Subject: Blog Comment

“I was really on the fence with whether or not to approve your comment, Sally, or to respond to it. Because realistically the best way to deal with negativity is to not feed into it. So in this case, I’m going to respond privately.

“In answer to your question: ‘What world do you live in?’ I live in a democratic world where everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and since it is my blog, I am free to express it. You chose to read my blog, just as you obviously chose to read Fifty Shades of Grey. And like all readers in the world, we all have different viewpoints on how we interpret a book. You have no right to judge my opinion, just as I have no right to judge yours.

“However, the fact that you chose to try and publicly insult me on my blog, saying that you feel sorry for me for my opinion, that you feel saddened by it, is extremely hurtful.

“I have supported your posts on [the Facebook group I moderate] since its inception, and I am disgusted that you would even try to publicly insult me, as I have never done anything but provide you with support. I did not approve your comment.”

comment not approved

I’m reading this, stunned. Really? These two lines, in the same paragraph, written without irony?
“I live in a democratic world where everyone is entitled to their own opinion…” followed by
“You have no right to judge my opinion, just as I have no right to judge yours.”

If we have a “democratic” right to our opinions, isn’t judgment a form of opinion? Why does she think we “have no right” to judge anyone else’s opinions? That is so absurd I don’t even know where to start with a response.

And, a deletion of my comment follows this “explanation”? I’m sputtering and laughing, both.

What IS a review, if it’s not exactly that: one reader and possibly another writer JUDGING another’s opinions and writing?

What is the function of comments on reviews, if not to JUDGE that review (like it, dislike it, agree/disagree)?

I considered, took some deep breaths, decided it was worth my time to respond. Maybe she could learn something… Maybe not.

I wrote, revised a few times, then responded:

Subject: Re: Blog Comment

“Dear XXX,

“It is your blog, your review and your opinions: all true. But, if the only comments you ‘approve’ on your site are those that agree with you, make you feel good and support your opinions unequivocally, you will stagnate.

“Your choice.

“I did not set out to be nor do you have to take my comments as ‘hurtful.’ I was expressing my dismay, my personal (as a female and feminist who is a lot older than you) and my professional (as a writer who has been writing a lot longer than you) sorrow at your conclusions and approval of those books. I read them all, too. I reviewed them all, too.

“If you want to go and comment on my reviews, please do. Say whatever you want, as a reviewer, a writer and a reader: that is your right. I encourage you to do so.

“Your previous support of my posts is appreciated, but your using that as if you ‘paid’ for my approval forever by doing so is insulting to me. Stop approving, stop supporting, if you think you ‘deserve’ some special and DISHONEST responses from me for doing so.

“If you want to close off conversations between us because you disagree and get hurt feelings when I don’t like what you write or post, I can’t stop you, but please; don’t make it as if I did anything wrong. You have a public blog. Comments are public. I did not ‘publicly insult you.’ I responded to your public post, in public, where comments belong.

“Sheesh.

“Sally”

She wrote back:

Re: Re: Blog Comment

“I will not respond to your negativity, Sally.

“We obviously do live in two different worlds. I’m happy to stay in mine.”


I did not and will not respond directly to her. I gave up on her: not apparently willing to be learning; not worth my time.

Instead, I am writing this post and asking for YOUR opinions.

Maybe I could have phrased my comment more “gently,” in some misguided attempt to protect her, but I would NEVER consider doing that for a man or someone my own age. Wouldn’t I be subjecting her to gender and age bias if I were to withhold, “dumb down” or soft-pedal my considered and professional opinions just because she’s a woman and/or someone younger than I am? She presents herself as a professional in public so I treated her as one.

Why doesn’t she expect some responses that don’t please her and have a better way to manage her own feelings about them? Why can’t she handle disagreement and criticism with more grace, or, even better, engage in a conversation with me about her points of disagreement, defend her opinion, argue her points, instead of playing the “hurt” and “insulted” cards? Why is all right for her to judge my comments but not all right for me to judge her review?

Are we “fellow authors” and reviewers/bloggers really obligated—no; supposed to—send all comments in which we disagree with a blogger to them privately, first? Why?

I vehemently disagree with these ever-expanding hiding-from-public-view practices. I am certain that hiding disagreements results in the disappearance of complex, nuanced dialogue and provides the public with pablum, instead. Then, the only thing readers get is a distorted picture of author engagement, in which we all hold hands and sing “Kum Ba Ya” all the time. When we post only glowing reviews, readers are misled and we breach the public trust.

When some label comments they don’t like as “negativity” and relegate disagreement to the private realm, we are all then left with sanitized, white-washed, dishonest and hypocritical non-dialogue in all public spaces: what is the point of engagement, then? Just keep patting everyone on the back, regardless of value, worth, logic, perceptions?

Not all disagreement is “negativity.” Not all conflicts between us should position one person as “good” and the other as a “troll.” Yes, there are “trolls.” I am not one of them, and this person should realize that. I am not hurt, just pointing out the obvious.

If she really can’t tell the difference between my expressing my honest opinions, while I am respecting but not liking hers; if she can’t see that I am not liking that she came to the conclusions she did or made the choices she did, but I am taking the time to tell her that as one professional to another, then I am led to give up on her.

Authors and bloggers, in my view, do not “earn” uncritical support (or maybe you think you do and you want it, but I do NOT) just by joining a group or getting to know each other online. If you are my professional “friend” or colleague, PLEASE tell me the truth. I don’t want applause; I want critiques and engagement that matter.

Just so you know: I do not go around looking for people to disagree with. I am busy. Most of my posted comments are supportive and positive, and I don’t post a lot of those, either.

HOWEVER, when something disturbs and moves me enough to write to someone about it, that writer should be grateful: I read his/her piece, respected the author enough to consider their opinions or positions, and responded from a thoughtful place.

When I am writing to the reviewer or blogger in order to provide my emotional as well as logical responses, that is further proof that I believe in this author or blogger enough to take MY precious time to craft and post a response.

If this blogger and any others do not understand that all thoughtful comments, however contradictory or critical, are a gift, their censorship is going to make honest dialogue even more rare.

Some writers apparently don’t have the courage to stand by their own public proclamations and engage publicly with people who do not agree with them. I term this behavior “unprofessional” and deem them unworthy of my time and opinions in the future.

BTW: I went to her FB group to see if she (the moderator) had kicked me out, and so far, not. However, she posted and pinned this query, right after our email exchange:

“Since this group is becoming more and more of a spam magnet, and not so much about [the group’s stated topic] anymore, I’m thinking it’s time to put it to rest?

“If anyone cares to keep it open, please respond with a comment, and I’ll see what reception I receive.

“I’m thinking about opening another one using a different name and with a slightly different purpose. Thoughts?”

Shutting down this group and using a different name to start another one?

Coincidence? I doubt it.

PLEASE post your comments here, on my main blog, to this any any other post:
http://www.sallyember.com/blog.
ALL comments that are not SPAM are ALWAYS approved.

comment approved baby
image from http://www.phoenixheart.net

Keep writing, keep commenting, keep reading, keep approving.

Best to you all.

How to Get 100,000 Views of Your BLOG (21 Blogging Tips)

Excellent #tips, #advice, #resources and #recommendations. Thanks, Chris McMullen! Best to you! #bloggers #blogging

chrismcmullen

Blogging Tips T

BLOG SUCCESSFULLY

I first began blogging actively on WordPress in December, 2012.

Only a little over 2 years, and my blog has reached 100,000 views and nearly 4,000 followers. My blog averages over 400 views per day presently, and the viewing frequency steadily accelerates.

If I can do it, you can, too. I believe it.

It’s not rocket science. (Just ignore the fact that I have a Ph.D. in physics. I didn’t use any physics to make my blog.)

In fact, I’m sharing my blogging ‘secrets’ today to help you do the same.

It’s not just me. I meet many other WordPress bloggers with many more views and followers than I have.

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You can get there, too.

I’ve created multiple blogs and webpages with WordPress, BlogSpot, GoDaddy, etc. By far my most successful blog or webpage is this WordPress blog. We’re fortunate that…

View original post 4,619 more words

#Authors #Marketing Yourself and Your Work (Final) Part FIVE

PART FIVE in this excellent series by Susan Toy on The Story Reading Ape’s blog. Thanks, Chris Graham, for posting!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

writer_398245

Cartoon from Toonpool.com

The following is an extract from a talk delivered at the Calgary Public Library in Feb. 2011.

Part 5

Another area of promotion you should consider developing – and only do this if you are comfortable with it – is speaking engagements. Speaking engagements are something your publisher will not arrange for you, unless they are approached directly by a group inviting you to speak. Make sure you are either allowed to sell books or that a bookseller has been asked to look after sales wherever you appear.

Here’s another important statistic I gleaned from reading Get Known Before the Book Deal: Authors who speak at events sell three times as many books. (This book is listed in the bibliography at the end of this post.)

You can give a straight reading from your book, but my preference is to hear an author talk about how…

View original post 1,150 more words

Discussion: One Star Reviews

I wish ALL book bloggers were more like Carrie!

The Mad Reviewer

Although I honestly had no idea this whole controversy existed until a year or so ago, apparently posting one star reviews is a little controversial in the book blogging community.  Some bloggers believe that posting one star reviews is part of an honest and open reviewing process.  Others believe one star reviews are a waste of their time or invite unwanted negativity and possibly author attacks.  It really varies blogger-to-blogger.

As my regular readers know, I do post one star reviews.  Sometimes I’ve posted 0.5 star reviews.  Why do I read books I clearly don’t like?  Well, like any sane human being I pick up a book because it’s interesting and I think I’ll like it.  Sometimes the promise of the blurb and the other reviews encourage me to do so only to disappoint me.  When I start a book I don’t like to not finish it.  This is in…

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#Authors #Marketing Yourself and Your Work Part FOUR

And, PART FOUR from Susan Toy, here, for #authors about #marketing. Great series.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

writer_398245

Cartoon from Toonpool.com

The following is an extract from a talk delivered at the Calgary Public Library in Feb. 2011.

Part 4

Okay, now you’ve completed the further editing, the proofs have been approved, and it’s just a matter of waiting for the printer to produce and ship your book. So, what’s been happening at the publishing house all this time? The main thing they’ve been up to is preparing for, and holding, sales conferences for their sales reps. A catalogue page for your book should have been completed and posted online. Be sure to link to this page on your own blogsite, and direct anyone to it who asks about your book. The reps have been told about you, and they have discussed how they can best sell your book to booksellers, libraries, wholesalers and specialty markets. Some of them may have even read the manuscript. If at all…

View original post 1,776 more words

Writing your own Ebook – Part Twelve Finale– Images – and Useful Links

If you are new to or not clear on #ebook #formatting and other structural issues in #self-#publishing, go back and start from the beginning of this great series! Great for all #indie #authors or potential ones!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Images in Ebooks

There are two types of EPUB Ebooks: Standard Layout, that allow text to re-flow and Fixed Layout where the page layouts are fixed and text does NOT re-flow.

Standard Layout is used for books that are mostly text and they may have images embedded between paragraphs, or on separate pages. This is the format that is most widely used and is compatible with the widest range of Reading devices.

Fixed Layout is used when: you need to have a background colour or to wrap text around images; if your pages have aspect ratios that you don’t want to change or if you want to have horizontal orientation or columns of text.

For most fiction books and many non-fiction books the Standard Layout is fine and I will only address that format here.

Image Guidelines

Different Ebook retailers have different guidelines regarding images and you need to…

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Why You Should Love Spanish Olive Oil

I had no idea olive oil was being diluted/compromised. Read and share!

Italian Home Kitchen Blog

153764507

Did you know that upwards of 70% of the world’s olive oil is fake?

That is not to say that it is not natural, or is made from chemicals, but 70% of the “olive oil” on the market — that is marketed as pure olive oil — is not actually pure olive oil. How can this be? This is because olive oil counterfeiters have gotten so good at faking olive oil that most of the professional tasters cannot tell the difference between the real stuff and fake olive oil.

“Fake” olive oil still contains a good portion of “real” olive oil, but is cut with low grade oils from other plants to reduce the cost of the oil. Though the manufacturers save money on creating the oil, they often still sell it as high grade olive oil and for a higher price. This practice has become so prominent in countries…

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Never-before-released Autobiographical Info about ME in Today’s Feature

Look who’s featured on today’s “Wednesday Writer’s” slot on Jnana Hodson​’s site? ME!

Never-before-released autobiographical info about ME in today’s feature!

Please visit, comment, follow:

https://frugaljnana.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/1812/

“Grade Inflation”—the Widespread Awards and Exalting of Effort—are Ruining Writing and Writers

I am hereby and for an undetermined length of time giving low credence to most book reviews, awards, contests and other honors conferred upon books/authors.

Why? I know some of the awardees’ writing. Many are undeserving of any accolades.

“Grade Inflation”—the widespread awards and the exalting of effort—are ruining writing and writers.

inflated A
image from http://www.wrkcapital.com

Why does anyone reward mediocrity and worse? How many “open mikes” have you attended in which EVERYONE, no matter how badly they perform or how horribly they read aloud or recite poetry, gets wild applause or even a standing ovation? Does the audience believe that everyone deserves the same response regardless of the quality of their presentation?

I do not.

How does it help any author/artist grow when no one is honest with them about the areas they need to improve and all they hear are overly exuberant praises? Neither are we helping authors or keeping faith with readers when so many provide undeserved 5-star “reviews” for shoddy writing. We are helping our writers and performers when we honestly and with specificity critique their work.

We are not doing our children any favors to give everyone who participates a “winner” ribbon, unless everyone understands that showing up and participation are what get awarded. However, I contend that, for professionals, the industry should not be labeling greatness on effort alone.

Grading on effort makes greatness lose all significance and confuses us all. When everyone “wins,” no one does. For evaluations and competitions to matter, the creation being evaluated of any top-ranking writer or other artist must be excellent by objective standards to have earned that award.

When all are given “A”s, or 5 Stars, or First Place, the rankings become meaningless. Participants can’t begin to discern their actual place among their peers or the value of their work in the world when reviewers and judges do not provide accurate, meaningful, thoughtful critiques and feedback, in the form of awards to the deserving.

participation trophy
image from http://cutemonster.com

At the end of a sports event, such as a foot race or team game, the winners and losers are indisputable. Those that swim are racing each other and the clock, which are immutably obvious regarding who swam the fastest for that race and for all recorded events of that type.

Art assessments should not merely be based on the creator’s intention or your affection for the creator.

Exceptions: if the artist is a child or disabled in some way, then that participation alone is sufficient to earn an award. Obstacles that participant has already overcome just to be involved in that competition or performance do deserve to be honored. THOSE types of contests, in which “everyone wins,” I wholeheartedly honor, e.g., the Special Olympics.

BTW: I strongly believe in and promote cooperative games, the postponement of competition, and an “everybody wins” concept for most activities for children and youth. I wish more youth sports and other harshly competitive games would be permanently removed from options so that everyone could play, learn and grow without that pressure.

This post is not to remove those cooperative and noncompetitive games or friendly, networking-type of awards passed around for fun and support. We all need encouragement.

However, when the competition is on a supposedly “level playing field” (more or less: let’s not get into gender, socio-economic class, age, racial and ethnic biases that unfairly prejudice judging and preclude fairness; that’s another subject), I strenuously object to fairly set competitors’ receiving awards, praises, great reviews or any other merit when the subject of the assessment is insufficiently unscrutinized.

I know some awards are merely a matter of “taste” or “current trends,” and that what anyone “likes” is always subjective.

Fine. Let those competitions be labeled clearly as having someone’s personal preferences, not accepted standards of excellence, as the main criteria for winning.

I’m talking about competitions that adults, professionals, and mostly, writers enter that supposedly have criteria that winners have to meet or exceed, in which the “best” is supposed to be honored the most. I wish that all of these competitions would be judged by obvious and agreed-upon standards of excellence and not determine winners based on effort, affection or popularity, or worse, payment of entry fees.

Also, I’m not talking about what people “like.” I’m asking for awards based on what is excellent, as objectively measured as possible.

Maybe it’s easier to talk about what is NOT excellent. I believe these components, below, are not purely subjective measures and therefore can be evaluated fairly and “blindly.”

FYI: For professional writers, grammar matters. Spelling counts. Syntax is significant. Context is not everything.

grammar shit
image from http://the-modern-housewife.blogspot.com

Here are my “what not to award” components for all types of fiction, whatever length.

[NOTE: I do not believe these need any explanations, but comment here or wherever you see this or email me if you are not sure what I mean, below.]

  • Poorly plotted stories
  • Superficially drawn or insufficiently motivated characters
  • Illogical, incomplete or inconsistent world-building
  • Triteness in storyline, characterization or setting
  • Not credible settings and/or situations
  • Poorly edited, insufficiently copyedited, badly spelled and/or incorrectly written sentences, paragraphs, entire works
  • Repetitious language, situations, characters and plots across one or more works by the same author
  • Sexism, racism, ageism, classism, ethnocentrism and other oppressive biases as expressed through one’s characters and plots/situations

The next time I hear a writer “won” an award, I hope s/he deserved it. I really do.

In case you need a reminder of what quality is and how deserving some authors are…

Ursula--Le-Guin-and-Neil--010
Ursula K. Le Guin and Neil Gaiman at the National Book Awards, 2014, in New York.
image from http://www.theguardian.com Photograph: Robin Marchant/Getty

P.S. I find Gaiman unreadable (personal preference) and adore Le Guin, but I recognize the similar greatness in their writing.