Thursday, August 30, 2012

Immortality vs. Death


Tony Nicklinson recently died in England.  It was bittersweet -- bitter because he was only 58 and had lived the last 6 years of his life locked inside a body that allowed only his brain to function normally; sweet because he had wanted to die.  He had taken England to court to allow him to die of doctor-assisted suicide, but they had refused his plea.  He refused food, caught pneumonia, and died peacefully 10 days later with the full consent and understanding of his wife and children.

In a battle between immortality and death, everyone knows that death will always win.  Yet some countries, including most of the states in the U.S., go to very extreme lengths and endless expense to force immortality upon those who wish it, as well as those who don't.  Only three states in the U.S. - Oregon, Washington, and Montana - allow assisted suicide.   What we allow our dogs, cats, and other beloved pets, we do not allow our suffering humans.


Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez has written several columns agonizing over the excruciatingly slow death of his father.  Watching it first hand made him vow not to die like that.  He observed that, "hanging on seems to be the norm in our culture, thanks to advances in medical technology and the widely held opinion that death is optional."  We diagnose diseases such as Parkinson's and dementia, while other cultures might use the simple diagnosis of  "old age."  University of Hawaii professor emeritus S. Cromwell Crawford pointed out that "we've got the money and we're spending it, but is this the right thing we're doing morally?"  As 6 year old Hush Puppy in the movie, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" so correctly observed about modern society, "When you get old, they plug you into the wall."


Eskimos might put their elderly out on ice floes; the Jains of India practice "sallekhana" - starving oneself to death at the time one decides is right -  and think of it as "a good and honorable death."  In looking for a place sympathetic to dying, Whitney Braun, a bioethicist at Loma Linda University Medical Center, noted that "though you'd think religious societies would be more comfortable with death, in some respects it's the nonbelievers who have better hospice centers and more end-of-life options.  As 6 year old Hush Puppy in the movie, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" observed of modern society, "When you get old, they plug you into the wall."


Living isn't easy, but dying in many countries, especially the U.S.,  can be harder.   Death is the norm in nature for everything that lives.  Indeed, there is a certain beauty in fulfilling the natural cycle of life and death.  But the quest for immortality eats up the major chunk of Medicare, as well as the hearts and minds of the families who tearfully maintain a vigil by the bedsides of their loved ones, watching them die piece by piece, function by function.


I remember an old Star Trek program where the society had evolved to the point where the bodies had disappeared and only the brains were left.  If there were technology that would keep the brains from deteriorating, perhaps then immortality would make sense.  Without that possibility, let nature take its course.

Suellen Zima
Comments?? E-mail Suellen at ZimaTravels.com

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August's Sales, a Month of Record-Breakers

This month has been a record breaker for me. On the 6th, my publisher told me I'd sold 25 copies already this month and at that rate I might rival the record in-house sales for a single calendar month. Now, the fact that I'd sold 25 books was really awesome news. The fact I'd sold them in only a week was even better. Dare I hope such a thing could continue?

Shortly after that, I was able to order a box, and as soon as it arrived I sold 2 to my boss and 2 over at the neighbor's lodge. I gave one to my brother's oldest and best friend in exchange for mutual reviews. He too just wrote a book. Another I gave to the man who helped me tons with much of the sword work in the book. And then, low and behold, some people bought some through my website. I don't remember where they all went exactly, but suddenly I have only 11 here at home and 2 at work.

That's all so very exciting. For me it's kinda hard to wrap my brain around. My first book never did so well, despite all my efforts. I don't count when my sister bought a stack to give out as Christmas gifts, or so I heard as a rumor, she never told me herself nor did any of my family say they received one. At any rate, my biggest royalty check for King by Right of Blood and Might was $80something.

On the 8th, my publisher tells me I've sold 40 books and that I'm right on pace to challenge the best in the company, his own book Philadelphia Story, which sold 131 books in one calendar month. That's 40 book sold in only 8 days - wow! Also at that point, when I sold 4 more books, I'll have sold 100 total books since it was published. Doublewow!!!

On the 14th, I broke the three digit marker and reached 100 books sold in one month. What a mile marker for me. I've never been on such an exciting ride before. I always thought it was so very cool to have someone out there read and like my book(s), and it is, and every review is such a thrill. I'm so hungry for feedback, honest feedback - tell me what you REALLY think - it helps, no matter what you say.

Then, on the 18th,  he posts in his group (and I quote) "It is official - Anna L. Walls release, Prince in Hiding, is now the best selling book in any individual month in BCP's history! and it is only the 18th of the month - Congratulations Anna!" (unquote). So, I sold over 131 books Woohoo!!! Happy dance time. Oh wow!!!

But that's not all. Just yesterday, the 23rd, he posts: "And Prince in Hiding's rock and roll month continues with another milestone passed, Anna L. Walls PIH just sold its 200th copy of the month! Yay Anna!" Oh my sakes! 200!!! And that's only this month and that was only the 23rd. How many will I have sold by the 31st?

200 books sold - more if you count those sold before August. Will it continue? I can only hope so. There are 2 more books in this series. My son asked, 'so when will there be a movie deal?' I wish haha (but secretly I hold a tiny hope that such a thing will happen someday).

What am I doing? I don't really know. I just do what I do every day. Keep it all visible and pay it back whenever I can to those who help me along the way. It's the best I can do. I hope to be able to do a book signing this winter. It didn't work out last winter so who knows. Cross your fingers for me. Do you think I'll make it to the New York Times Best Seller's List? or something similar? Ooh who knows?

PRINCE IN HIDING, book #1 of The Making of a Mage-King series - http://www.buckscountypublishing.com/portal/ Start the adventure.
KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT
- http://bit.ly/ld8mz It's worth checking out.
My blog novel - THE FORTUNES OF MAGIC - http://thefortunesofmagic.blogspot.com/p/blurb.html What would you do if you suddenly became magical?
My website - Anna's Passion - http://AnnaLWalls.weebly.com Find out about up-coming books.

How August became a good month for me

I thought your readers may want to read about how August became a good month for me, despite few sales.

In the first week I sold another copy of Pat Canella (the Dockland murders) and the first copy of The Word, my Sci-Fi book. Nothing happened after that until about a week ago when my friend Malika Gandhi got a copy of Chronicles of Mark Johnson, the book then shot to number 50 in the Amazon.co.uk top 100 of horror anthologies. 
Then today (August 26th) I have found out that the follow up story to Dockland murders- Ghosts of your past, has reached the top 3,000 in the Amazon.co.uk site. The amazing thing, neither Chronicles nor GOYP has sold more than a few copies. 

WHAT will happen next? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our Neighbors


Good morning, afternoon or evening depending on the time zone.

A few weeks ago I ran into one of my neighbors Kevin. We were discussing then normal issues, weather, taxes, political guffaws and the sort. I could tell Kevin had something more important on his mind, but since I didn't know what it was, we continued with the small talk. We moved on to work related items. He was currently unemployed. He was an OTR. For those who don't know, that's an over the road trucker. Work had been a little slow and he was tired of watching yell and white lines dance in front of the windshield. He had applied for a couple of local jobs at the Opera and sound studios. See, Kevin is an artist at heart. He spent years working on his music and running sound gigs. As he describe some of his past gigs I quietly interrupted. "Hey Kevin, why don't you write a book." His look was of confusion. "Where would I start? What do I write? Who would read it?" I think at one time or the other we've all asked the same questions. My answer. "At the beginning. Start at the beginning." He assured me if he got serious about it, he'd give he a shout for direction and motivation.

Yesterday I ran into Kevin again. Asked him if he'd heard back from the Opera or sound stage. Said he hadn't heard a word, but his fingers were still crossed. Then he hit me with, "Guess what? I took your advice, sat down last night and started writing. I was only going to spend about thirty minutes. Instead I found out I had been hammering on the keyboard for over two-and-half hours. I was shocked." The only advice I gave him was since it's an autobiography of his tales on the road and the shows he worked, be honest. Don't make yourself look like the good guy all time. If you do, readers will question the sincerity and depth of the author. He agreed and scurried back to his house.

Let me tell you something, that gave me a great feeling. Will I make any money of of this? No. Will I be credited with a blooming career? No. I will have the satisfaction of knowing I helped a neighbor in a small way launch a new career. I reflected back to the days I was coaching baseball. I never worried about the win loss record. I concentrated on the boys/girls learning how to properly play the game. If I knew they learned the fundamentals, the W's would follow them through life. I got the same feeling with Kevin.

I will help him and answer any and all questions he may have as he ventures into this new and exciting arena. Isn't that what neighbors are for?
Jeff Dawson on Amazon


Friday, August 24, 2012

5 SONGS GIVING COUNTRY MUSIC A BAD NAME


I get it. Everyone loves to hate country music.
But, despite the fact that my disdain for most trash on the radio has gotten me called a “musical elitist” before, I actually love it. Chalk it up to the fact that I drive on windy backroads all the time and have cows hanging out right behind my neighborhood. Fine. I don’t care what you think.
Country music actually has a lot of things going for it — it’s just a matter of what you’re looking to get out of a song. When it comes to this genre, songs are simple, relatable, catchy and rewarding. You can usually know most of a song after listening to it one time through. And if I tune into other stations, the odds of me knowing a song are much slimmer than when I turn to a trusty country station. My friend left the country for nearly five months and said she could still listen to country — and not feel like an alien — when she came back.
I agree with Chuck Klosterman, who wrote in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs that, “The most wretched people in the word are those who tell you they like every kind of music ‘except country.’ People who say that are boorish and pretentious at the same time.”
But then there are times when I flip around country stations and come across songs that really are just. plain. terrible. And I realize that if I wasn’t really into country and came across one of thesesongs, I would hate it too. And my hatred — or maybe even pity? — of the genre would probably be irreversible.
So, for all you country-haters out there, don’t judge the genre by songs like these — five of the worst I’ve ever heard:
5. Dirt Road Anthem, Jason Aldean
Based on all the swerving, I’m going to guess that the ice cold beer sitting is his console wasn’t the first. I guess drinking and driving is legal if you are driving through a field. But, more importantly, why is Jason Aldean rapping?
4. Something Bout a Truck, Kip Moore
This song is the ultimate cliff-hanger. He goes through all these things and never tells us what exactly it is about any of them. Tell me, Kip, please! What’s is it about your truck? I think that Kip didn’t quite know how to explain it to us and decided to just repeat himself over and over again instead — creating this awful song in the process.
3. Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, Trace Adkins
Ohh wee, shut my mouth, slap your grandma?
2. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Taylor Swift
First of all, I don’t think rhyming never and ever counts as songwriting. Second of all, does anyone else remember Taylor Swift’s first single that was actually really good and didn’t sound like it was written by a twelve-year-old? Things have all gone downhill from there. Sure, she’s making bank, but I could be doing exactly what she is if I wasn’t tone deaf and still believed in fairy tales. (I know, we’ll never know if that’s true, but me saying that is no different than all the people that say they’d be really good at basketball if they were taller. So ha.)
1. Truck Yeah, Tim McGraw
This one breaks my heart the most because it’s by one of the most respected names in country music. Come on, Tim. Don’t do this to me. Truck yeah? What the truck were you thinking?
By: Alyssa Oursler

Blog: alyssaoursler.wordpress.com (version on blog includes videos)
Portfolio: alyssaoursler.weebly.com
Twitter: @alyssaoursler
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/alyssa-oursler/48/215/791

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call Girl


In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call Girl is a charity publication. It is the transcription of a video interview Ruth Jacobs undertook with a London call girl for her research into prostitution in the late 1990s. The woman interviewed, Q, had a traumatic life with childhood sexual abuse and then from the age of fifteen was pimped on the streets.
Within days of being published on Amazon In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call Girl has already received 14 x 5* reviews across the UK and US Amazon websites. One of those 5* reviews is from Stephen Leather, one of the UK's most successful authors and the writer of over 30 bestsellers.
In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call Girl is available to download from Amazon. The publication is 77p from Amazon UK at http://amzn.to/P992RY and 99c from Amazon US at http://amzn.to/Qo3SZD. It is also available worldwide. 
All royalties received from this publication are being donated to a charity called Beyond the Streets www.beyondthestreets.org.uk, which helps women exit prostitution. According to statistics from 9 out of 10 women working in prostitution would like to exit, but there just isn’t the support available, so helping to raise funds for this charity is very important to Ruth.
Ruth feels it is also important to make people aware of some of the stark statistics: 75% of women working as prostitutes have been sexually and physically abused as children, 70% have experienced multiple rapes, and 67% meet the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Ruth Jacobs
Ruth’s website is www.soul-destruction.com and if you’d like to join the mailing list for the Soul Destruction - Book & Diary Series please click here

Monday, August 20, 2012

Author Spotlights, Reviews and Guest Bloggers, Oh My!

Thank you so much Siggy for having me here.
My name is Aurora and I’m the Founder of Crimson Flower Reviews and Randomness. We are a relatively new Blog, but we have been really blessed in growing exponentially.  It is in part due to our expressed purpose to get the names of Indie Authors out into the Internet via Social Media such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and others.  We are able to accomplish this through Author Spotlights and Promotions, Author Services, Book Reviews, Guest Blog Spots and Slice of Life Blog Entries. 
My subject today is connecting with Indie Authors. When I first started this I was that Indie Author. I had released my book, Child of the Loch. I was at a loss as to who, what, and where to advertise.  I was lucky enough to meet up with several best-selling Authors, who put me in touch with some Facebook groups. From there the rest they say is history. I scoured, skulked and stalked all of Facebook looking for anyone who was interested in reading/ reviewing my book and along the way I built up my friends list featuring many of today’s best Indie Writers, Publishers and some of the best minds in social media.
Some tips for Indie Authors on Facebook:
-Don’t over advertise your book- Some authors have a tendency to “spam, “to the point that people no longer wish to see their posts.  If you want to advertise, try a variety of ways such as different excerpts or good reviews. I even know of one author who posts pictures of who they think might be play their character in the movie version of their book. It keeps things fun and interesting.

-Don’t Inbox Advertise- I knew an unfortunate author who inbox advertised.  The backlash of incensed people was amazing. There were several walls on my Friends list who were all talking about the “gall” of that author.  I felt so bad for the author that I promised myself I would pass along to not make that mistake.

-Do set up an Author Fan Page.  Even if you aren’t published, an Author Fanpage can offer a way for you to keep the “public” up to date your books, where they are in the publishing process, any good reviews that you receive, and when they are available through the publisher or online. It can also be a means to market your book(s).

-Set up a blog that connects to your Facebook for you to talk about writing, reading and everyday things so that your readers can connect with you.  Writing is a long and busy process but I encourage you to make as many connections as you can.  Other Indie writers and your “public” are the people that can help make or break your success. Inviting those people into your “world” can draw interest in your book(s).

These are just a few of the do’s and don’ts, there is always more to learn from each other.
Aurora Martinez

Bio:
I have always been a writer. When I first learned to write in Kindergarten, I wrote about pigs who "groo" wings and became "butterfys." I knew way back then that I would have a love affair with writing. It over took my life and has been a constant companion. Now over 20 years later, that love flows over into writing blogs, reviews, poetry and fantasy novels.  You can find me on the web at My Blog, Facebook Fan Page, Myspace Page, Twitter Page, Pinterest Page, Tumblr, Book Blogs, Goodreads, Blogger, WanaTribe, Shelfari, Google and MSN Live. Independent Author Index



Friday, August 17, 2012

Money or your life


The wonderful house we swapped with a German family in the East near the Baltic Sea  came with a boat house and a small craft that didn’t need a license. Engines over 5 hp on Germany lakes etc. do.
 My son and his friend, strapping young lads that they are, had taken the rowing boat out to begin with but hubby felt lazy and privileged to have a “motor boat’ at his disposal .
On our last night, a beautiful warm evening, he got it started and cleaned it from cobwebs. Normally, I’m not particularly seaworthy but this I could do, I thought hopping into the vessel.
We went along the little canal that connected to the adjacent lake where we had done a lot of constitutional walks, passing all these cute little vacation or weekend houses;  datschas - I presume they were called in the ‘olden days’. Owners were out on their porches  barbecuing, having a beer or just sitting out enjoying the balmy evening. My friendly greetings and “Guten Appetit!” mostly went unanswered; instead we got stares.
My family had commented on the fact before that the locals seemed to be rather reserved, looking away or looking at us outright suspiciously. Hubby had his theories about them being former communists who had lived in a supervised state where neighbors spied on each other and were naturally suspicious. Could that be the case almost a generation after the fall of the Iron Curtain? I wonder. The difference in behavior to other parts of Germany that I am familiar with was striking, however.
So here we were put-putting along.  At a tight spot in the canal we had to slow down from our snail space to make rooms for 2 canoeists. The engine died.”Not to worry, there is a second battery. I just have to switch over to that one.” To be on the safe side we decided not to continue our journey to the lake with only one battery and turn around instead. But the second battery never started. The canoeists enquired if we had paddles. I hadn’t yet spotted them, but gracefully there was a pair on the floor of our boat.
So paddling it was, back past the houses and people we had just passed. Their behavior and demeanor had miraculously changed. Some got up form their seats to throw a funny remark, “Machine kaputt?” or “Need a push?” Others interrupted their meal to get a good view of the spectacle.  All of a sudden we encountered a lot of smiles and laughter. We are not practiced paddlers…
One older guy, alone on his deck, pointed what looked like an antique pistol at us, “Money or your life”. He was probably just lonely or thought he was funny. I started to get peeved. Why had nobody bothered to engage with us before? There is something about Schadenfreude that we Germans are verifiably good at. The self-proclaimed pirate invited us to join him. “I’ll throw a couple of bratwurst on the Barbie for when you return” not realizing that we were on our way back already and wouldn’t paddle by again. Maybe he’s still standing there, waiting.
It was either that the batteries had not fully charged or the connections had come loose. We made it back through the sweat of our own hands. The behavior of our neighbors there remains a mystery, however. To do the people form Meck Pomm justice, our exchange partners, some of their friends and neighbor who we met were totally friendly; some even stepped out of their way to give us a helping hand. It remains a mystery until I get some enlightening comments from people in the know. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Novel Idea



            My second South American mystery novel, “The Ambivalent Corpse”, is set mainly in Montevideo, Uruguay.  The premise is that our heroes find parts of a dismembered corpse on a rocky stretch of beach in Montevideo, apportioned equally between the Memorial to a German cruiser sunk in World War II and the Memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust.  Because of the murder victim’s strategic location shared between two antithetical monuments, the Uruguayan press names her “The Ambivalent Corpse”.

            I got the original idea for this book’s title and basic premise when my wife and I took a walk in Montevideo in 1999 and we saw that strange juxtaposition of the two monuments.  As you can tell from the dates, it took a while for me to find the time to sit down and start writing the book.  I remembered the Graf Spee Memorial, which was a favorite spot for snapshot taking among the university students I knew, from my first stretch of living in Montevideo in 1982, but I didn't remember the Holocaust Memorial from my earlier visit.  Perhaps this shouldn't be too surprising since the memorial was first dedicated in 1995.

            The novel's story sort of took over and wrote itself after the third chapter in the first draft (6 chapters long) became the first chapter in subsequent versions.  Because of this change, the action began immediately in the new Chapter 1 thanks to the suggestion of my youngest son, who I asked for comments.  After I recovered from his criticisms, it was clear that he was correct.  Much of the back-story and details came later, during editing of the book and after some friends read the later drafts and gave me helpful feedback.  Part of one of those first two chapters, with a bit of revision, is tentatively included in the fifth book in the series, currently in the plot development stage.  As we say in California, recycle, reuse, revise, and repeat.

            The setting for all four of my novels thus far has been South America, especially Uruguay and Northwest Argentina, both places my wife and I lived during a sabbatical I took several years ago.  I’ve been back to Montevideo and Salta, Argentina, site of my first novel, “The Empanada Affair”, several times since then for collaborative research and teaching programs there, so I know the locales, the food, and the people I use for the books pretty well.  My third book in the series is set in Chile and Peru, and a fourth novel is set in Montevideo and Santiago, Chile, all places I have spent time in thanks to the various scientific collaborations that began during our sabbatical leave.

            I try to write books that are fast moving and entertain the reader while introducing them to an exotic region that is a long way from home for most English speakers.  Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, and Iguazu Falls are characters in these books, and the novels will have succeeded for me if readers say that they’d like to visit these places because they seem so vivid and real.  I believe my strengths are in inventing interesting plots, paying attention to story details, and trying to entertain the reader.

            I’d love to see you pick up a copy of one of my novels, read and enjoy it, recommend it to your friends, and write a good honest review that you publish wherever you purchased the book.  
Jerold Last 
My (blog) website:  http://rogerandsuzannemysteries.blogspot.com
All my books are available on Amazon:
The Matador Murders 

 
The Surreal Killer  

The Ambivalent Corpse   
The Empanada Affair