Deals: Kindle for $50 with Amazon Reward Visa

Via Books on the Knob.

I don't have a Kindle; the B&N nook and Sony lineups are my weapons of choice, but this deal is too juicy to not pass along, so reblogged.

Narnia: When The Narrative Is Stacked Against You

Content Note: Abuse (Emotional / Family / Physical / Religious)

Narnia Recap: Lucy has met Aslan in the middle of the night. Aslan has told Lucy to get the others to follow her, though they cannot see Aslan themselves, or leave them alone in the forest.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 11: The Lion Roars

I'm just going to go ahead and be upfront about this: Chapter 11 is one of my least favorite chapters in this series.

Self-Promotion: Distributing For Free

As a new indie author, I'm personally of the opinion that my greatest enemy is obscurity. This is one of the many reasons why my book is distributed with a Creative Commons license that allows (and encourages) sharing the book freely with friends, neighbors, and complete strangers on the internet.

However, this is not always an easy position to take because "distributed for free!" and "distributed widely!" takes a tremendous amount of time. At last count, my novel "Pulchritude" is currently distributed at almost 20 different links: 

Amazon (US) (eBook)
Amazon (US) (Print)
Amazon (UK)
Amazon (DE)
Amazon (FR)
Amazon (IT)
Amazon (ES)
Apple (via Smashwords)
B&N
CreateSpace (Print)
Diesel (via Smashwords)
GoodReads
Google Play
IvaNovella
Kobo (via Smashwords)
Lulu
Smashwords
Sony (via Smashwords)

The Amazon and Smashwords links can be consolidated into a single process, but that's still a lot of uploads and managing. And thus there is a natural tension between Distributing The Old Book and Writing The New Book, since the aspiring indie author is frequently strapped for time.

With that in mind, I'm going to swallow my pride and as for help. I love this post at Slacktivist which gathers up online archival sites that distribute free literature. However! I simply do not have the time or spoons to research each one, determine if they accept Creative Commons books or only Public Domain books (there is a difference and my book is not Public Domain), create accounts at each one, and upload as needed.

So! If you are an archivist, and particularly if you are involved with Open Library or Project Gutenberg, and if you're at all willing to help me distribute "Pulchritude" for free through any of these sites (and/or through any torrents you may have access to), I'd greatly appreciate any uploading that you would do on my behalf.

Here are things that you will need:

Title: Pulchritude
Author: Ana Mardoll
Publisher: Acacia Moon Publishing
Publish Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9849822-0-2 (eBook edition)
Cover Art
ePUB edition
mobi edition
PDF edition

Asking for help is hard, but I figure that if there's someone out there with a passion for archiving and a few minutes willing to help me, it's worth the pain of asking. Thanks in advance.

Recommends: Another Take On Brave

I didn't talk about the male perspective in Brave yesterday for a couple of reasons, most of which boil down to Simply Spoons, but which could be more adequately summed up as a lack of mental ability, a desire to inject some positivity into that particular post, a lack of space to cover everything as deeply as I'd like, and only having seen the movie once before posting. (As opposed to, say, The Little Mermaid, which I've seen about a billion times.)

And I do apologize for that. It's not that I don't care about male issues -- because I do, and I try to make a point of talking to them when I can because the patriarchy does hurt men too -- but it was just one of those "I can only advocate so much in a single post" things and I'd gone to the movie looking for how the female characters were treated, not the male ones. Once again, it would seem that no post is a Perfect Post.

But that's alright because Froborr has written a very wonderful post that tackles Sitcom Sexism in Brave and how using the patriarchy to hurt men in order to make a female-friendly movie is not good intersectionality, but just more misandry that ultimately props up the patriarchy even more firmly. And while I still like Problematic Art, I think the post is wonderful and makes some really great points that I wish Pixar (and others) would take on board. We're still waiting for a truly feminist-friendly movie that doesn't treat feminism like a zero-sum game where "better treatment for female characters" means we have to debase the male characters to make up for the loss in prejudice.

RECOMMENDS! What have you been reading / writing lately?

Open Thread: Edward and Chocolate

Because there is no Twilight today (sorry!), here is an open thread in which to list all the things that Edward is not worth giving up. "Chocolate" has already been taken.

Animation: Brave

@ wikipedia.org
I saw Brave the day after July 4th. (Spoilers lurk herein.)

I'd been anticipating the movie for months, for a variety of reasons. A curly haired princess! With agency! And warrior abilities from the get-go and not after a training montage from a Love Interest! After this post, Husband stopped by the Disney store to buy me a Merida doll to take to the hospital with me during my surgery. That doll became something valuable to look up to: Merida would be strong after surgery. Merida wouldn't cry over a little thing like this. Merida would do what the doctors ordered and suffer lightly the physical therapists and their whims.

All this without even having seen the film yet. Such is the power of our idols, I suppose, but she filled a gap that I needed filling.

I was furious that my surgery prevented me from seeing Brave on its opening weekend. (I seriously considered buying tickets anyway, just to help the opening box office sales. I really want Hollywood to get that strong women protagonist movies like Brave and The Hunger Games are financially a safe bet.) But it may be all for the best that I had to wait a few weeks before I could hobble to the movie theater and sit straight up for two hours, because the four or five girlfriends who wrote saying, essentially, Oh, you haven't seen Brave? I did, and I ... I liked it. Yeah, I think you will too, probably, mentally prepared me for the possibility that the movie, while good, might not set my world on fire in the way I wanted it to.

And, well, it did and it didn't.

Here are all the things I liked about Brave.

I liked that it's a story of a mother and a daughter coming to understand each other, in much the same way that How To Train Your Dragon was about a father and son coming to a similar understanding.

I liked that it's a story that begins with a female protagonist who is strong and independent, and it ends with a female protagonist who is strong and independent. Whatever transformations of character happen from the opening titles to the end credits, never is Merida's essential Strong Independence changed.

And I can't stress strongly enough how important that is: this isn't the story of a weak girly girl becoming strong, because this girl starts out strong. Our first scene of Merida is her getting her first bow as a small child; our next glimpse of her is years later as a young woman, honed into a strong warrior by years of passion and practice in her craft. Merida is badass within the first five minutes of the film, and she's a badass entirely of her own making. (Well, with some encouragement from Dad, but still, the level of dedication that Merida must have put into her training is awe-inspiring.) So let's be clear, this isn't girly Mulan cutting off her hair to go train in a montage: Merida is a fighter from the get-go.*

* Note: There is nothing wrong with a woman being girly. Nor is there anything wrong with a woman cutting off her hair to go train in a montage. I'm pleased with the variety represented by Brave, not with the contrast in and of itself. 

Nor is this the story of a strong girl becoming feminine and realizing that she does need a man after all. Merida starts the movie insisting that she's not ready for marriage yet, and she may never be ready for marriage. She explicitly brings that up as a possibility. And the movie does not even try to contradict her. There's no love story here, not even a hint of one. There's no inkling that Merida is falling for anyone or that she ever will. Gods help me, but please don't let them make a sequel to this movie, and then we can all have head-canon of Merida being a lesbian or asexual or any number of all-the-things we're not allowed to have in these kinds of movies. How rare is this, to have a character in a movie -- any animated movie -- that doesn't end up heterosexually pair-bonded by the credits? So this isn't Tiana realizing that dreams and careers are nice and all, but life isn't balanced if there's not a man in the equation.**

** Note: There is nothing wrong with a woman deciding that her life would be better balanced with the addition of love and/or a family. Again I'm pleased with the variety represented by Brave, not with the contrast in and of itself. 

I liked that Merida really is badass and her badassitude isn't limited to a few key battles staged for the promos. There's a scene near the end where Merida is defending her turned-into-a-bear mother from her father and four clans' worth of men, and she holds her own. Against her father. With a sword. And it's incredible. And her voice, as she growls out to the crowd that no one is going to hurt her mother... it's such a powerful thing that the memory of it still sends shivers down my spine. This isn't an essentially gentle girl like Rapunzel, only fighting when circumstances force her to; this is a young woman who seems to truly belong on the battlefield defending what's important to her, a warrior in a very real sense of the term.*** 

*** Note: There is nothing wrong with a woman not wanting to be a warrior or only fighting when forced to do so by circumstances. Just to be clear, I'm pleased with the variety represented by Brave, not with the contrast in and of itself. 

So with all this, why didn't Brave light my world on fire the way I expected?

To be honest, I think it's the plot vehicle of choice. Being Turned Into Something and then Racing Against The Clock is a narrative device that needs to go hibernate for a few decades so it can seem fresh again, in my opinion. The device is as old as The Little Mermaid, and as recent as The Princess and the Frog. And it's not even like the bear angle is new: I don't remember anything about Brother Bear except not liking it -- well, and I do remember Husband fell asleep halfway through and, when roused, specifically asked me to let him go back to sleep, thank you very much -- but I remember that somebody done got turned into a bear. So there's that.

And this is one of those times where I kind of wish I had less experience than I actually have. Because if I hadn't seen the last ten or twenty movies that used the Turned-Into-Something, Racing-Against-The-Clock narrative vehicle, I probably would have thought Brave was the coolest thing since sliced bread dipped in liquid nitrogen. But because I have seen the last ten or twenty movies to use that particular plot coupon, I couldn't help but feel like the movie was a little... draggy at times. So there's that.

I still liked the movie. I liked the characterization. I liked the stunning visuals, the gorgeous music, the incredible pathos of the tension between family members which was then mapped on tension between friends and neighbors. Putting aside the Otherization of the cultures involved -- which is another post for someone else to write, and they should probably throw How To Train Your Dragon into that post as well and examine the movies together because I felt like there were a lot of similarities in that regard -- I enjoyed the juxtaposition of humor and drama within the movie. And if all that sounds like a tentative recommendation, it's still a recommendation nonetheless.

I'll be buying Brave... eventually... once the price comes down to something reasonable. I want to encourage Hollywood to keep it up, to give us female protagonists who are strong and capable from the get-go, who don't get less so as the movie wears on, and who boldly bring up "I may never heterosexually pair-bond, so deal with it" as a genuine, no-kidding possibility. Do you hear me? I want more of this.

Brave didn't light my world on fire from a story-telling perspective. But that's okay because it's still a step in the right direction. Now we just need more. Lots more.

---

Update: Something else that I liked but forgot to work in above, was that the three suitors for Merida were on-board with and instrumental in the acceptance of her proposal to let young men and women make love-matches instead of matches based on combat prowess.

This makes Brave a very rare example of (multiple) young men choosing to buck the Patriarchy in favor of a feminist cause led by a strong young woman, even though doing so is not necessarily in their favor. I say that Merida's cause is not in their favor because the weakest-in-combat young man has already technically "won" the right to Merida's hand, and the other two young men could reasonably expect to win in the case of a rematch. None of them, in contrast, have been given any sign that Merida would choose them for love.

Although there are problematic issues with the way that Brave approaches men and culture, I appreciated a rare and heart-warming example of young men supporting a feminist cause lead by a strong young woman, without any immediate benefit to themselves.

Open Thread: This Is A Real Thing In The Real World

Content Note: Racism. The "Save The Pearls" site (link under image) launches a video with blackface, and also contains Racism, Heterocentrism, and Misogynist Eliminationism.

Courtesy of Mark Reads, who has a video, and Chelsea has a better and more coherent take-down than I could ever write, but for those of you who were blissfully ignorant of the existence of this thing, allow me to fix that for you.

Metapost: All About Me

Content Note: Surgery Stuff

I've not updated recently on my medical stuff, so here is a random metapost.

Open Thread: Douglas Adams and eReaders

If you like Douglas Adams and eReaders, you may find this delightful, if a bit staticky.

It's always pleasing to me when a writer predicts the technological future. 

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Feminism: Being The Representative

[Content Note: Generalization of Cultures and Experiences, Rape and Rape Survival]

I've mentioned before that I'm a member of NetGalley and also that I love it to little tiny pieces. Once a week or so, I get a title round-up in my inbox and these frequently become fodder for my traditional rambly musings. Today this one showed up in the inbox:

Author Interview: James Norris on "And The Earth Shook"

Ana: Today we have James Norris introducing their book, And The Earth Shook. I haven't read this book myself, but James was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. James, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

James: An abundance of evidence in ancient myth and legend suggests that we have had help all along the path to our present civilization. Archaeological finds are eroding established notions about our past, and providing convincing evidence that we may not have always been alone on this planet.

Is it possible that we have been visited by extraterrestrials in our distant past? If we have, are they still here? If they are not still here, will they return sometime in the future?

These are questions you might ask yourself as you follow Dr. Sandra Ella Martin on her quest to discover what is causing abnormal readings from one of the deep ocean monitoring devices used by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to help predict tsunamis. This adventure will change almost everything in Sandra's life. What she discovers will call into question everything she believes she knows about her world.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

James: Every ancient civilization has its own version of a creation myth. A central theme in each of these myths is that the creator emerged from the heavens, from under a lake, or from some other place to create the sun, the moon, the earth and everything on the earth. Some of these creators were said to have made men in their own image, and through the use of some cataclysmic event, they destroyed their early attempts and made men again.

According to Toltec legend, Tloque Nahuaque, Lord of All Existence, created the universe, the stars, the mountains, and all of the animals. Then he made the first man and woman from whom all the inhabitants of the earth descended. When the first cataclysm struck, the earth was destroyed by the water sun. The Toltecs appeared at the beginning of the second epoch, and after wandering the earth for many years, they made their home in Huehue Tlapallan. Then, there came a second cataclysm caused by the wind sun. The legend follows that mighty earthquakes shook the earth and destroyed the earth giants.

The Aymara Quechua people of Peru believed that Viracocha made both the sun and the moon, after emerging from Lake Titicaca, and that he made the earth and all of the people on it. Viracocha was a vengeful God. When he was assailed, he sent terrible storms and destroyed the property of his assailants. However, he eventually forgave the people and taught them everything. According to legend, when Viracocha left the Aymara, he walked away on the surface of the water.

These stories are clearly an attempt by the ancient people to explain an intervention in their way of life, by beings who possessed superior knowledge and abilities. Is it possible that these beings were visitors from another planet who came to earth in search of some natural resource not abundant on their own planet?

How can we explain the fact that all of the ancient civilizations on earth valued gold from the very beginning of their known existence? Did these people simply wake up one day, and decide to stop hunting for food to instead search for a shiny yellow metal for which they had no practical use?

Did primitive people just walk out of the jungles, deserts and caves with the prerequisite knowledge to allow them to build massive pyramids, ziggurats, and fortresses high in the mountains? If they did, where did they learn the complex mathematics, and stone working skills to allow them to make such a miraculous transition? If they did not, where are the remnants of all of the structures they must have built while they learned?

We slap ourselves on the back and proclaim that we are the most advanced, and most enlightened civilization this earth has ever known. But, are we really?

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

James: From the time I was a small boy, I've always been interested in the past. My paternal grandfather would spend hours telling me stories about when he was young, and I hung on every word. I couldn't wait to hear the next installment. Through the years, my freelance study of religion, archaeology and ancient history has provided me with more questions than answers. I have come to believe that we don't really know much about our origens. This story is my attempt to entertain people, and entice them to consider and think about alternative answers. We don't really know any of the answers, and there is little evidence to prove what we have been told about our past.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

James: The first book that comes to mind is Sphere by Michael Crichton. In Sphere, a group of scientists along with Navy personnel are sent to the deep sea habitat at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to explore what they believe is an alien spacecraft. In my book a young female scientist discovers an unknown structure on the floor of the Atlantic. At the age of twenty nine, Dr. Sandra Ella Martin is already the Assistant Administrator of her department at NOAA. She has worked hard to conduct meaningful research, and to publish her findings in one of the many professional journals dedicated to scientific research.

This assignment comes as a surprise to Sandra. One of the agency's deep ocean monitoring devices is sending back abnormal readings. Scientists at the National Data Buoy Center in Mississippi have used software programs to analyze the malfunctioning device with no success.

If the readings are to be believed, there is something ominous happening on the ocean floor near the mid Atlantic Ridge. The readings indicate significant movement, and movement of that magnitude can cause a tsunami of huge proportions. If something breaks loose and crashes down to the ocean floor, the tidal waves might result in a worldwide extinction event.

Sandra knows the readings are impossible, but the software indicates the device is operating properly. Somebody will have to retrieve the device and find out what is really happening. She is the right person for the job, but there is something sinister going on in the background. She can't put her finger on it, but there are things happening around her that she just can't understand.

What Sandra finds nestled between two underwater mountain peaks near the mid Atlantic ridge ignites a mushroom cloud of apprehension in her brain. Much of the factual information in Sandra's life is inextricably changed by her new found knowledge. The very essence of what she believes about her world is cast into the wind. Her astonishing discovery sets off a series of events that will end her career, and plunge her into an unfathomable nightmare in which she suddenly finds herself on the run. People she thinks she knows are part of a complex web of deceit with tentacles in a number of high level government agencies including her own NOAA. She is catapulted into a search for ancient treasure, and she is shocked by a baffling revelation.

If you liked Sphere, You'll love my book "And The Earth Shook."

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

James: This is my first published novel. I have two more books that are being edited now, and they will soon be ready for publication. "Legend of the Devil" is a post Civil War coming of age story, about a boy who leaves the home of his abusive uncle to find his own way in the world. Young William falls into the life of a gunfighter, and gradually evolves into a solid citizen.

"Petey" is the story of a thirteen year old autistic boy. Petey struggles with life in a very small town where people tend to mistreat him. A neighbor woman takes an interest in Petey when she hires him to do yard work. As the story progresses, the woman is murdered and Petey is faced with both the loss of his only friend, and the community response to the murder...

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

James: The title of my book is "And The Earth Shook." You can go directly to my product page at Amazon.com. Just click the following link. There is a place on my Amazon product page for customer reviews, and there is also a place for customer discussions. I am in the process of building a website which will soon be on line.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

James: Thank you, Ana. My book is aproximately 317 pages, and I believe Amazon is making roughly ten percent available for free download. The free download should be enough to give the reader a good idea whether he or she would like to read the entire story. I hope everyone who reads my book enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here
If you are an indie author interested in joining the Acacia Moon catalog, please visit the forums here.

Disability: Depression Diaries and Puritan Work Ethics

[Content Note: Depression, Surgery]

One of the really frustrating things about depression is how well it succeeds in camouflaging itself as a "nothing" disease, the mental equivalent of having a touch of sinus drainage in the morning, or of needing your joints to warm up for a few minutes before you can really hit the ground running.

Part of this is social, I think. As a society, we really don't take mental diseases seriously at all. When I left the hospital after my surgery this year, I was given an entire notebook of instructions on how to take care of myself, what activities I can and cannot do (as well as an honest-to-god timeline on when those activities magically become available to me!), what dangers are posed to the hardware in my back and to the bone grafting process in general, and who I can call for help if I experience any serious issues during recovery. But no one, at any point in this process, said to me, And oh-by-the-way, the meds you're on might make you severely depressed, in which case you should call this number.

Recommends: The Question of Susan

There is a REALLY GOOD post on Slacktivist about Susan Pevensie, with two different sides being presented. Link here.

Open Thead: The List

To do today:

  1. Read short story from [redacted]. 
  2. Read short story from [redacted]. 
  3. Start collecting all the ghost stories from AMP forum and see where we stand, numbers-wise.
  4. Upload Pulchritude to Audible. 
  5. Send another box off to the cut-and-scan place. 
  6. Cancel magazine subscriptions. 
  7. Call boss re: part-time work. 

Actually done today:

  1. Ate breakfast. 
  2. Walked with Mom down the block in 100 degree weather. (Physical Therapy.)
  3. Left a message on boss' voicemail.
  4. Wrote exceedingly rambly and verging on incoherent post about Trigger Warnings that started with "why is this so $^%&ing hard to understand", segued into intersectionality issues courtesy of Rowen and Dave, and ended with an apology to everyone I've been pissy to whilst depressed. (~6 hours.)

So don't feel bad if you didn't get much done today.

Review: The Children of Henry VIII

The Children of Henry VIIIThe Children of Henry VIII
by Alison Weir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Children of Henry VIII / 9780307806864

I picked up this book after finishing Weir's excellent "The Six Wives of Henry VIII". This book follows straight on from the end of that one, and is an excellent and engrossing look at the interactions between Edward, Mary, Elizabeth, and Jane Grey as they each in turn took the English throne whilst maintaining complex relationships with the others.

There's really not much to be said here that I haven't said already with regards to Weir's books: her scholarship is (as far as I can tell) excellent, her writing is fascinating, and she takes a great deal of care to cite her sources as she goes, along with the bias and relative trustworthiness of that source. I greatly appreciate her style, as it really conveys what was gossip, what was possibly true, and what was most likely true in her estimation.

If I have any criticism to give on Weir's writing, it would perhaps be that I wish she would use a few more commas -- sentences like "In late May Mary moved..." give me a moment of pause while my brain sorts out what I am reading. But this is a very minor point.

The only other issue I have with this book is that it feels like it short-changes us a touch on the Elizabeth front. The book covers Edward's ascension to the throne and ends with Mary's death and Elizabeth's rise to power. In a way this makes sense, given that the theme of the book is the interactions between Henry's heirs, and once Elizabeth is queen, there are no more heirs to interact with. And it's not like the book is lightweight, since it comes in at over 400 pages in the eBook version. But there's something rather disconcerting about reading so much about Elizabeth's struggles under Mary's reign and then signing off just as she comes into her own. I note that Weir has an entire volume solely on "The Life of Elizabeth I", so you might want to follow this book with that one.

~ Ana Mardoll

Recommends: From One Former Fifteen Year Old Boy To Another

This is incredible:

If maintaining your libido’s really that high a priority, please go take off the smut filters on google or duckduckgo and blast off to actual porn. There’s nothing wrong with sexy women; the problem comes when you act as if you’re entitled to all women being depicted as sexy or when you act as if it’s okay for a woman in a serious work to be depicted as nothing but a sex symbol.

Really, though, the whole post is awesome. Bravo times a bieberbillion.

RECOMMENDS! What have you been percolating lately?

Deals: The Princess Bride

Today's Nook Daily Find is The Princess Bride for $1.99.

Twilight: Protagonist-Centered Everything

Content Note: Depression, Ableism Language in Text, Ethics of Mind-Reading, Bad Friendships, Disordered Eating

Twilight Summary: Bella has traveled to Port Angeles, where Edward saved her life, took her to dinner, and brought her back home without the knowledge of her father Charlie. During the ride home, Edward confirmed that he is a vampire and can read minds. In Chapter 10, Edward will take Bella to school, Jessica will question Bella closely about their relationship, and Edward will eat lunch with Bella and discuss vampire eating habits.

Twilight, Chapter 10: Interrogations

Title drop here.

Open Thread: It's Been Bugging Me

Can you guys hear me all the way over there when I chew? It sounds so loud. Especially Pringles. *crunch crunch crunch*

What's been bugging you lately?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Feminism: Mandatory Dan Savage Post

[Content Note: Ableism, Fat Shaming, Rape Culture, Biphobia, Racism, Domestic Violence]

Deconstruction Quickie here.

This is your yearly reminder that Being A Member Of A Marginalized Group does not automatically make you an ally to all other Marginalized Groups.

Feminism: Love Is...

[Content Note: Hospitalization, Cancer, Religious and Political Homophobia]

Love is...

... the husband who took me to Half Price Books the night before my surgery just in case they took my eReader away from me in ICU as a forbidden electronics device.

Author Interview: Josh Kilburn on "The Blue Pimpernel"

Ana: Today we have Josh Kilburn introducing their book, The Blue Pimpernel. I haven't read this book myself, but Josh was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Josh, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

Josh: The Blue Pimpernel is set in 2041, but you could be forgiven for reading it as being set in the 1990s. It's about a teenage girl named Renee Rhee and her friends, Ofelia Stratford and Cyan Brooklyn, as they step up against the ruling political party, the Party of American Patriots, and the criminal elements that prop up the Party at the local level.

The Party has been in power for at least 20 years, controlling American politics from the local level on up. They've kept any technological or scientific advancement at bay, and eventually managed to roll back the tide of change, breaking society in the process. The Party is propped up by the criminal families, powerful organizations spawned by their "moral regulations", who survive on a thriving black market trade. When this rampant corruption steals away the life that Renee knows not once but twice, she and her friends decide enough is enough and they step up to the plate with the intent of undermining the Party. It's a hard science fiction superhero story, but it blends elements from a few different genres.

Trigger Warnings: the novel has a great deal of violence. There's also two instances of attempted sexual violence and subsequent victim blaming, and there's frequent use of the very harsh language by the characters and rare usage of racist, homophobic and misogynist language by the characters. The novel has a very realistic portrayal of mental disorders; the protagonist and one of the antagonists are both non-neurotypical, and there's references to an abusive parent/child relationship.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

Josh: Hope is the most pronounced theme. Renee adopts the mantle of the Blue Pimpernel because a) she's emotionally blackmailed by her best friend into doing it but, more importantly, she convinces herself that she's doing what she does in the hope that she can create a world where people don't have to go through what she's gone through (both times involve a bomb and a great deal of corruption, and losing something important to her). She picks up the mantle because she wants to reshape the future with hope, rather than allow it to be shaped by the endless cynicism of the Party.

Friendship, love, and teamwork are also very strong themes. Renee accomplishes a lot with her friends, Ofelia and Cyan. She loves her adopted family (and they love her back), she loves her best friend, and she supports her friends the best she can in the face of her own problems. Together, the three of them (eventually five) step up to the plate and prove just how powerful a force friendship and love can be in motivating hope.

Classism, wealth, and power are also elements of the novel. With one exception - Aya - the protagonists are all from the working poor. With the possible exception of three - Godwin, Anderson, and the last antagonist they face in the novel - the antagonists come from the wealthy upper crust. The Party is run by the wealthy, the white, and the male and they make little secret of it. Some are more blatant about it than others. Justice and its relationship with power and wealth is also a minor theme - a minor theme that develops into a major plot point near the end of the novel.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Josh: I wanted to write a poor Batman. Bruce Wayne lives a life that's utterly alien to me. He doesn't have to worry about whether or not he can pay bills each month. He doesn't have to worry about losing his phone service because he forgot that his payment is in the middle of the month, or he didn't have the money to cover it. He doesn't have to worry about whether or not he'll be able to afford food and bills for the month. I can't relate to a person who doesn't have to deal with this day in and day out. Renee's families - both of them - come form the working poor/lower middle class. She knows what it means to be poor, even if she is just a teenager. She goes to a crappy private school, deals with nasty and abusive authority at the bottom of society, and fights just to stay afloat on some mornings.

I also wanted to take a number of tropes commonly associated with the genre and flip them on their head; most of them tropes associated with race or gender. For instance, Renee is half-Korean and half-white. However, it's her father who's Korean and her mother who's white. Renee is not school material; she doesn't do well in the school environment, but she's an excellent athlete and is quite smart in her own way (body-kinesthetic intelligence), and is very literate and well-read, quoting the opening refrain from Dante's Inferno from memory at one point. She is in a very loving and supportive relationship with her adoptive family, even if it is extremely trying sometimes. Ofelia, her best friend, is a social butterfly, the most classically feminine of the protagonists, but she's also got a very good grip on mechanics; the boys go to her to get help with repairing an engine at one point in the novel. She can also pick locks, something she learn ed to do on those cold mornings when Renee would accidentally lock the keys in the car before they could get to school. Those are just an short sample of some of the tropes that I try to invert, zig-zag, or deconstruct in the four major protagonists.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

Josh: My influences are likely the closest things I can draw comparisons with. I was influenced by Watchmen and V for Vendetta, and to a lesser extent, Kingdom Come and the Dark Knight movies. However, it's not an exact fit; I lack the white male protagonist, and the themes of the novel fly right in the face of the themes in Watchmen or V for Vendetta, so my novel is superficially similar. I was also distantly influenced by 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale, and while it's visible in the existence of the Party and the policies they take, they act more as the support for the building the ladder that my novel is standing on is leaned against, rather than the ladder itself.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

Josh: This is my first published book, but I've got a lot of other novels in the wings. I selected this one because as I look back at the novel and see what all has happened in the six years since I've started this, I've been pretty accurate in the predictions. Some of my beta readers asked me if the Party was influenced by the Tea Party, especially due to how they arrived on the scene - they metastasized one of the existing political parties - but no. The Party as I conceived it has not changed in the 7-to-8 years since I started working with it. I also learned that some of the technology I was using is coming out now (the armor that the protagonists use, for instance). I joked with my friends that I decided to publish before "Real Life could steal any more of my stuff."

The Blue Pimpernel took 6 years to write, but most of it was just an inability to get a draft that I was happy with (the Party predates the Blue Pimpernel, because it came from another novel I wrote). Once I had the draft, it took me roughly a year and a half to get it together. It's the first novel in a planned series; the second one, Entropy, should be out in 2013/2014. I'm also working with a series of other novels, not all of them being science fiction. In fact, I like working in a wide variety of genres, and I like mixing those genres to create new effects.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

Josh: Because I'm a neophyte at this, I ended up creating three different versions of the same novel. The first version, and the cheapest at $2.99 USD, is the ebook. You can find that on Lulu, on B&N for the Nook, or on the iBookstore (so I'm told. I can't find a link, so I don't know for sure).

The next two copies are dead tree versions. There's no difference between the two besides size, page count, and the fact that one has a copyright page and the other doesn't. The $9.99 USD Digest size has 454 pages, but it doesn't have an ISBN-13, so it can only be sold on Lulu. The next, the $17.95 USD US Trade has 292 pages and it has an ISBN-13, and should be avail able on Amazon whenever that happens.

I do have a blog, and I do post updates on the book there. You can follow me here.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Josh: You can find a free sample in two different places. The B&N sample is here but you have to be a member to get it (I tried. I'm not a member, so I couldn't). Lulu supplies a free sample on the page selling the dead tree versions to anyone, you don't need to be a member to get it.

Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to do this, I really appreciate it.

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Deals: Comics Curmudgeon's Kickstarter

Alright, probably everyone else knows this already, but I fell behind in my reading and missed this.

The Comics Curmudgeon has a Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming book!! And it has an eBook option!

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.

*happy*

Narnia: Jerkass Gods

Content Note: Religious Differences, Warfare

Narnia Recap: Lucy has seen Aslan and believes he wants the children to go up the gorge; none of the others have seen Aslan and they decide to go down the gorge.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 10: The Return of the Lion

The title, you will note, is a TV Trope.

And it's time to point out a few obvious things.

Recommends: Happy Star Wars Tears

Content Note: Very Light Nudity (No Naughty Bits Shown But May Be NSFW)

If you haven't already seen the Gotye "Somebody That I Used To Know" music video, you'll probably want to watch this first. A friend sent me this and I liked it enough to watch the video eight times in a row before buying the MP3 on Amazon.

Well. Now there's a Star Wars version. And it is awesome.

(Words cannot express how much I love my Husband for managing to combine my love of indie music with my nerdliness and finding this awesome thing for me.)

LYRICS

[DARTH:]
Now and then I think of when I was in power
Like choking people with the Force until they died
But then you told them all my history
And took away my masculinity
And had my character portrayed by subpar actors.

You are now addicted to an overuse of graphics
And making Greedo shoot first? Han shot first.
So when you tried to have the Force make sense
You introduced the midichlorians
And what's the deal with having me be dubbed over (Noooooooooo!)

But you didn't have to change it all.
Make 'em like they never happened and the fans are nothing
I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a Bantha and that feels so rough
No you didn't have to make them blow
Have your friends direct your movies and they'll turn out better.
You think that you don't need them though
What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know

What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know
What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know

[GEORGE LUCAS:]
Now and then I think of all the times I screwed fans over.
I had them believing that the first three films were really done.
But Star Wars will be done my way
I don't care what you have to say
I think that they should let it go
And they'll never get the Blu-Ray of the Star Wars that you used to know

[DARTH:]
You didn't have to change it all.
No more puppets, no more practical effects or nothin'
I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a wampa and that feels so cold.
No you didn't have to sell your soul
Do we really need to watch them all again in 3D?
Jar Jar was an all time low
What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know

[x2]
The movies
(I used to know)
The movies
(What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
(That I used to know)

Deals: Matched


 I haven't read it yet, but I plan to, and I've heard VERY mixed reviews, but Matched is today's B&N Daily Deal for 2.99 in the US. Link. (I have to say, I think the cover art is gorgeous.)

Recommends: Printing This Out

From the Byron To Buffy Tumblr.

I just... have something in my eye, is all.

RECOMMENDS! What's up, folks?

Writing: PACT (Introduction)

Ana's Note: Cross-posted from here

Planned Pitch *

750,000 teens in the United States become pregnant every year. There’s nothing especially different about these four girls, except for the legal battle and media firestorm that follows after a school expulsion immediately prior to the girls’ graduation. Faced with a lack of support from their family, their friends, and the fathers of their children, these young women will have to help each other while withstanding national contempt for their crime of being Pregnant.

Deals: If You Like Herman Melville

Well, I spent all week bashing him, so as an apology, this ended up in my email this morning:


I own most of the Delphi Classics ebooks and they're generally very high quality. They're all public domain collections, but with lots of essays and footnotes and nice things thrown in. And -- bizarrely -- movie posters for every spin-off movie every, which is less valuable to me, but I guess marks a cultural timeline for the books.

Open Thread: Names

If it were culturally easy (i.e., without serious hurdles in the form of social resistance and legal hoops) for you to take a new/alternate first name as one you choose (and not one chosen for you at birth), would you do so? (And feel free to share what you would pick for yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so.)

I think I might. I like my given name just fine, but it still bugs me a little that I didn't have a pick in the matter. But I can't decide what, out of a universe of options, I could settle on without feeling a certain anxiety that I might have missed a better one.

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Disability: Depression Diaries and The Theory of Relativity

Content Note: Depression, Cancer

One of the "fun" things about depression is how easily it can downplay itself as Nothing Serious and you, the sufferer, as a Big Whiner. It does this by the tried-and-true fashion of somebody else has it worse.

Now, you don't have to be depressed to suffer from somebody else has it worse; my mother, for example, has spent pretty much her entire life vocally castigating herself for daring to complain about anything at all because, hey, somebody else has it worse. And because this is logical and objectively true, it's hard to argue with: somebody, somewhere, almost certainly has it worse than everyone else, no matter how you choose to measure things.

Writing: Acacia Moon Publishing and a Call for Anthologies

Ana's Note: Cross-posted from here.

Several of you know that when I self-published my novel "Pulchritude", I did so under the label of a publishing company that I started at the same time: Acacia Moon Publishing. I've got a lawyer and everything, and she's filed the appropriate papers with state and national authorities, and we've trademarked the logo and it's all very exciting. But it still basically boils down to self-publishing, and it's about as loosely governed a "business" as, say, selling homemade crafts on Etsy or something equal self-starting. And that's precisely what I wanted: something loose and agile and simple.

Feminism: "You Might Be A Racist If..." Special Political Edition

[Content Note: Politics, Racism, Food Poisoning]

I don't usually do political posts on the blog because on my high-spoons days, I'd just tell you to all go read Shakesville and on my low-spoons days, politics depresses the crap out of me and makes me start wondering if Canada is as cold as Margaret Atwood tells me it is. (It surely is. Margaret wouldn't lie to us. *sadface*) However! Today I am holed up in bed with food poisoning because god hates me [1], and I made the Very Big Mistake of saying so on Twitter and in doing so I noticed this hashtag: #ThingsRomneyShouldSaytotheNAACP.

Oh dear.

Author Interview: K.L. Glanville on "2108: Eyes Open"

Content Note: Transhumanism, Genetic Conflict

Ana: Today we have K.L. Glanville introducing their book, 2108: Eyes Open. I haven't read this book myself, but K.L. was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. K.L., how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

K.L.: 2108: Eyes Open is an adventurous coming of age story set in the year 2108. It’s about Jewel, who has a propensity for trouble and has just turned 16 in her beloved country of New Zealand. In 2108, New Zealand is the only place in the world that has not succumbed to the heavy-handed, unnatural rule of Aliens, Half-breeds and Bionics. Will New Zealand remain untouched and a bastion of genetic purity, or is war looming on the horizon? Everything hangs in the balance when Jewel encounters a handsome young Bionic. Are his intentions genuine, or is he purely trouble? This book is an exciting and wild ride into the future.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

K.L.: I had fun exploring a number of themes in this novel. Besides the fascinating technology, Jewel’s dangerous, hair-raising adventures, and the beauty of New Zealand, I ended up touching on some more serious topics as well. Jewel is continually faced with her own preconceived ideas and prejudices about people and differing ways of life. This story follows her journey of growth and understanding regarding various worldviews.

The story also explores the controversial concepts of genetic modification and transhumanism, both of which can be seen as emerging issues in our world today. I didn’t even know what transhumanism was before doing research for this book though! And in case you’re wondering what it is, it’s the belief that humans should try and accelerate human evolution to become something better than we are today. A more dramatic example of transhumanism would be the blending of human genes with animal genes to give a human some sort of “improved” capabilities.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

K.L.: My main motivation was probably fun. I really wanted to have fun writing this book. For a while, I had been dreaming of writing a futuristic novel so I could dream up all kinds of fascinating technology. I also didn’t want to have to worry about being incredibly accurate for my setting. In my first novel, I got around some of the accuracy issues by inventing my own country. But in 2108, I wanted to set the book in New Zealand. New Zealand is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. But because I’m not from there, putting it in the future where I can create some of their “future history” is helpful! In writing about New Zealand, I was able to enjoy getting “lost” there on a daily basis in my imagination. Again, I was pursuing fun.

Another motivator was to try writing in first person, present tense. I had never written in that person/tense and I wanted a new challenge. I enjoy new challenges, and I found I really liked writing in this style. I can’t wait to get back to working on the next book in the series!

Aliens were also a motivation. No, I did not have a visit from one or see a UFO, but I had been reading about others’ experiences and it fascinated me, so I wanted to explore the topic further... and have fun with it.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

K.L.: Reviewers have compared it to Maximum Ride, Hunger Games, Scott Westerfeld's "The Uglies" series, and Academy 7. It’s futuristic dystopian, romance and sci-fi lite.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

K.L.: 2108: Eyes Open is the first in a series. I'm expecting it to have a total of 3 or 4 in the 2108 series. The second one is underway!

I also have another series in progress. The first book of that series is The Realm: The Awakening Begins. The second of The Realm series should be out late summer. The Realm is in the genre of supernatural fiction. I say it's Harry Potter meets Slumdog Millionaire. It’s available in paperback, ebook and audiobook (with full music soundtrack!).

I also just released a single "Love Forever Wins" that is the theme song for that series. Yes... a theme song for a book series. I know that sounds strange, but my friends who did the music for the audiobook took a song in the book and gave it life! And in my humble opinion, I think they did an amazing job giving it a wonderful epic feel. We’re also in the process of making some of the music mentioned in 2108: Eyes Open. Again... such fun! Can you tell I like to have fun?

And then there are a couple other books I’ve written: Fiction Writing Workbook (for ages 10 to adult), and My Very Special ABC Book (for little kids).

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

K.L.: My books are all available on Amazon.com or through your local bookstore. Ebooks, audiobooks and music can be found on their respective standard outlets (iTunes, Audible, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)

And there are tons of ways to connect with me. I have a blog and newsletter where I talk about things like the supernatural, writing tips, book reviews and social issues. I love to have people interact with me on the blog. And if you sign up for the newsletter you get a bit more behind the scenes info.

My facebook fan page is a great place to get up to the minute news as well as a place to interact with me. If you’re a tweeter, the same news is posted to my Twitter account @klglanville. And I can be found on goodreads as well.

I used to be a teacher and LOVE talking with young people about writing and being an author, either in a classroom, book group or some other setting. If I’m in your area, I can come in person, or if you’re further away, there are the options of Skype or FaceTime. You can contact me through my website here to set up events.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

K.L.: Yes! The first chapter of 2108: Eyes Open can be found here. You can also read the first few pages of both of my novels on Amazon.com.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s a privilege to get to share with your readers!

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Writing: Indie Savvy (Introduction)

Ana's Note: Cross-Posted from here. 

At this moment in time, the results of the "writing and self-publishing" poll look like this:


83% of the readers on this site are interested in writing and maybe self-publishing those writings. I have also fielded a number of questions via email regarding the ins and outs of indie publishing as well as the ins and outs of the supporting indie infrastructure: indie editing, for example, as well as being an indie artist for indie writers.

I've been on both sides of the indie fence: I'm an indie author and I'm a reviewer of indie literature in general as well as of indie writings in the yearly Amazon ABNA contest. I have strong feelings about what works and what doesn't work and -- according to the people in my inbox -- at least some of you would like to hear those strong feelings. To that end, I'm putting together a series of blog posts that I will eventually compile into a book for portable consumption.

But first! Some ground rules. Indie publishing is not without its detractors. There are traditional authors, editors, and publishers out there who find the whole thing to be nothing more than vanity press; there are readers who think the results of indie publishing is an ocean of slurry bogging down the stores in slush and making the good titles hard to find. I have spoken with people who genuinely feel this way; I respect their point of view.

However, these posts are not about those points of view, and these posts are not an invitation to argue the merits of Indie vs. Traditional publishing every time I put up a post. I am declaring that line of discussion off-limits right now because I do not have the spoons for it. If all this reads to you like the Chronically Foolish leading the Chronically Foolish, by all means keep it to yourself and go back to the Twilight posts, please. All comments on these posts will please be as close to the stated topic as possible.

Second, I will be cross-posting most of these posts to my Professional Blog because it's topical to the content there. Feel free to post there as well as here; basically, post questions and comments wherever you feel most comfortable.

Third, while I will be posting a tentative outline here, the blog posts that comprise the book will be completely out of order because they're largely stand-alone pieces.


Outline
With that out of the way, here is the tentative outline for the topics I intend to eventually cover:

1. Opening
a. Introduction
b. Investments
2.Branding
a. Branding Basics
b. Branding 101: Be Available
c. Branding 101: Profile Concisely
d. Branding 101: Stay Active
e. Branding 101: Remain Professional
f. Branding 101: Learn Lessons
g. Donations
h. Duck, Duck, Go
i. NaNoWriMo
j. Profile: Amazon Author Central
k. Profile: Amazon Customer Profile and Public Wishlist
l. Profile: Smashwords
3. Drafting
a. Writing in Scrivener
b. Pitches and Product Descriptions
c. Internal Images
d. Cover Art and Artists
e. Cover Art and Fonts
f. Cover Art and Genre
g. Audio Narrators
h. Copyright
i. Copyright and Creative Commons
j. International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)
4. Editing
a. Writing Partners
b. Amazon Breakthrough Award Novel
c. Beta Readers
d. Editors
e. Scrivener ePUB Export
f. Sigil ePUB Editor
g. Calibre mobi Conversion
h. Special Characters
5. Distributing
a. Digital Rights Management (DRM)
b. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and KDP Select
c. Amazon Pricing
d. Barnes & Noble PubIt Account
e. Kobo
f. Smashwords
g. NetGalley
h. …and beyond!
i. Reviews
j. Self-Promotion
6. Indie Infrastructure
a. Indie Opportunities
b. Indie Cover Artist
c. Indie Illustrator
d. Indie Editing
e. Indie Narration
f. Indie Formatting
g. Indie Trailers
h. Indie Translation
i. Indie Reviews
j. Indie Webpage Building

....and with that out of the way, I'll also post my little book/blog series Introduction. Feel free to suggest missed areas in the comments.


Introduction
In 2011, I decided to realize a dream that I’d always had: to write and publish my very own book.

The timing was right, both personally and professionally. I’d experienced a serious setback in my personal life and I needed something to concentrate on to help me deal with my grief. Equally importantly, the market was ready for me to realize my dream — the rise of easy online self-publishing was making it easier than ever to write and publish a book. I wouldn’t have to deal with the stress and waiting and anxiety of agents and publishers and rejection letters; I could write the novel inside me and set it loose on the world the moment I felt it was ready. And so I did.

I’m not the most successful indie author out there — in fact, I only have one book published so far. So I was more than a little surprised when several friends, both online and in face-space, started encouraging me to write a “how-to” guide for online self-publishing. Who am I, I wondered, to give people advice on all this?

But as it turns out, I do have some skills that suit me for the creation of such a guide. I love writing user manuals — so much so that I write technical user manuals as part of my day job. I enjoy taking copious notes and condensing them into clear, concise explanations for others. And this enjoyment of condensing useful information has coupled with my absolute passion for reading to produce a hobbyist reviewing career of over 1,000 product reviews on Amazon.com and the label of “Amazon Top 100 Reviewer”.

More importantly, I am an absolutely fanatical consumer of eReaders and eBook technology. My day job as a software engineer has given me the means and the background to understand a lot of the nuances of eBook coding and format conversions. And my passion for electronic reading has left me owning (as of writing) seven dedicated eReaders, as well as a phone and two computers set up with constant access to my electronic library of over 2,000 eBooks.

In this guide, I have tried to combine my experiences as a first-time indie author with my technical understanding of the tools involved and my history as a dedicated reader and reviewer to create a reference for other would-be indie authors out there. My goal is to be clear and concise, while conveying the important fact that you can publish your own novel without losing your shirt or your senses.

This guide will cover the following sections:
  • Branding. Advice on how to create an online persona and grow an audience in advance.
  • Drafting. Advice on how to craft your novel, your cover, your pitch, and your copyright.
  • Editing. Advice on how to revise your novel, where to solicit feedback, and how to format for publishing.
  • Distributing. Advice on how and where to upload your novel for distribution.
  • Indie Infrastructure. Advice for people interested in making money supporting indie authors.

Disability: Depression Diaries and Unconditional Love

[Content Note: Depression]

Ana's Note: This is a new series as part of the Health deconstructions. It exists partly because sharing overly personal stuff online is kind of what I do, and partly because a number of you have kindly written in saying that when it comes to depression, I Am Not Alone.

One of the interesting things about my current bout with depression is how utterly self-loathing it is.

That doesn't mean I automatically think everyone on earth is better than me (counter-intuitively enough), but it does mean I don't think particularly highly of myself right now. And that attitude can blossom into a really terrifying spiral really quickly.

Metapost: The Huge Narking Bitch Post

People.

I don't like closing threads. I don't like it because I've been there in the comments before and I know how frustrating it is when I have something cool-and-on-topic to say and the thread is now closed because of moderation issues. I've been there. And yet I've just closed my second thread in as many days.

I don't know how to say this any other way, but I am low on spoons right now.

Recommends: Jim Hines Continues To Be Awesome

I've already recommended that Jim Hines post where he poses like a woman on his Grrl Covers only to discover that the usual grab-bag of poses hurt. Now he's done a companion series of himself posing like a sexy man to point out that Sexy Man Poses are not usually painful, uncomfortable, and suggestive of submission.

And there's this incredible post by ocelott that covers a lot of the same themes, whilst showing that women can be totally sexy in comfortable, powerful poses. (Imagine that!)

Also, for a rare not-boobs-and-butt pose, scroll down until you see Twilight. *gasp*

And because this is sometimes hard for people to see, the differences in Submissive Woman Pose and Powerful Man Pose, here are two more subtle examples with Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade.

Original

Redraw

RECOMMENDS! What have you been seeing lately?

Other open thread possible topics below: Boobs-and-butt pose, why we don't see it on the Twilight covers, submissive head-tilts, why genuinely strong poses for women aren't considered sexy by the people making these posters, and anything else you've got going on.

Twilight: All The Things I Like

Content Note: Oppressive Parenting, Dangerous Relationships, Continued References to Bella's Near-Rape

Twilight Recap: Edward and Bella have concluded their dinner conversation and are heading back to Bella's house. 

Twilight, Chapter 9: Theory

Alright, folks, today we're just polishing off Chapter 9. And since I've been feeling like I've been coming off as really negative lately, what with Narnia and Game of Thrones and The Avengers and everything else, and since I really do feel like a fluffy bunny person on the inside (most days) and since there's nothing too egregious left in this chapter but we need to finish it up anyway, this is going to be one of those Nice Twilight days.

Metapost: Here's Hoping We Beat The Odds

Content Note: Surgery, Swearing, Depression, Cancer, Pet Illness

Today I learned that when your surgical doctor says he's "only going to add a little bit more metal" into your spine when you're already vociferously on record as not wanting any more metal in your spine, your surgical doctor is full of shit. 

Here is what my spine now looks like:

Open Thread: Clothing Culture

Specifically: Kilts! Why aren't they more socially acceptable in America? I mean, I hate wearing skirts, but I know a guy who thinks kilts are super comfortable.

But there's lots of things like that. I always think saris look comfy, but I'd not have any idea how to wrap one. And I recall there was a whole wrapping class that we sat through for fun when we went to Hawaii, so that shows just how hopeless I am in the wrapping department. 

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Feminism: The Allure of Appropriation

[Content Note: Cultural Appropriation, Oppressive Religion, Infertility]

I took a DNA test last year. 

I credit even knowing about the test to Justine Larbalestier. You see, a few years ago I read her absolutely phenomenal Liar, and major plot point in the book (which features a mixed-race protagonist who may or may not also be supernatural in origin... and it only gets weirder from there) revolves around everyone in her high school class getting their genealogical DNA tested. (So it's basically like the blood type test in Twilight, but with permission slips and teacher responsibility and meaningful social commentary.)

Author Interview: Sarah Remy on "The House on the Creek"

Ana: Today we have Sarah Remy introducing their book, The House on the Creek. I haven't read this book myself, but Sarah was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Sarah, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

Sarah: The House On The Creek is a contemporary romance set in Virginia. Everett Anderson has returned home after more than a decade away from his family estate. Abby Ross has spent the last year renovating the same estate, turning the dilapidated Anderson mansion into a show piece. Everett and Abby shared a childhood rife difficulties and ripe with first love.

Now adults, their paths cross again and sparks fly.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

Sarah: The House On The Creek is really about history. The shady history of the house, the innate sense of history suffusing colonial Virginia, and of course the over arcing romantic history that Abby and Everett can't ignore.

It's also, quite simply, a story about putting the past in order. I think every reader will come away with a sense of optimism. There are some hurdles in our past that seem too difficult to overcome. But difficult doesn't mean impossible.

Of course, the book is a romance, so I also hope my readers come away a little heated and and a lot entertained.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Sarah: I write because sometimes it's more fun to live in my own head than in the outside world. It's what I do to relax.

The House On The Creek was really born some fifteen years ago, when I lived and worked in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. I loved the town, the people, the deep green James River, and the historic homes.

I'm a West Coaster who fell in love with the South. When I make boatloads of money - by playing the lottery - I'd like to retire somewhere along the James.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

Sarah: I read a ton of science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Romance wise, I cut my teeth on Nora Roberts. Nowadays I read Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison, also Julia Quinn, and many others.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

Sarah: I've published a couple of small press science fiction novels, the first when I was straight out of college. At the moment I'm half way through a young adult fantasy for my twelve year old daughter.

I'm also busy jotting down notes for the next story in the James Creek series.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

Sarah: The House On Creek is available exclusively as a Kindle ebook at the moment. In the fall it will be more widely distributed.

Anyone can reach me at madisonplacepress@gmail.com. I also have a mostly neglected blog at Wordpress. I'd really rather write fiction than blog real life.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Sarah: You can find a nice preview here.

Enjoy! And, when YOU win the lottery, take some time to visit colonial Virginia. You won't regret it.

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Narnia: Counterpoint The Surrealism Of The Underlying Metaphor

Content Note: Religious Violence

Narnia Recap: Trumpkin and the Pevensies have decided to join Caspian by boat rather than take the dangerous and grueling over-land route Trumpkin previously traveled. 

Ana's Note: It's been a long day month and I'm on some incredibly heavy medication at the moment. I'm trying to write this with a "tongue-in-cheek" writing style and I sincerely hope that this post comes off as light-hearted and cheery. If it doesn't, I apologize.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 9: What Lucy Saw

So we're in Chapter 9 of a book that is fifteen chapters long. That means we have seven chapters -- including this one -- to wrap things up and actually do something with all this backstory and narrative setup that has been plopped in our laps over the course of the last eight chapters or so.

Self-Promotion: Calling All Indie Authors

Ana's Note: Text found here.

Given that -- in the latest poll -- 83% of you are either interested in self-publishing or "maybe" interested in self-publishing, I'm going to start talking about self-publishing more in upcoming posts, including my dream of having a loose community of indie authors coupled under the same label and pooling resources to get All The Nice Things traditionally denied to self-publishers. With that in mind, here's the opening FAQ on the AMP website:

Acacia Moon Publishing is a conglomeration of self-published indie authors who have chosen to pool their titles under a single catalog in order to distribute their books to as many outlets as possible. Our goal is to provide titles through every available marketplace and ecosystem. This lessens the gap between readers and writers, and allows consumers to support authors through whatever means they are most comfortable with.

Authors who publish under Acacia Moon handle their own sales through regular retail outlets, but may also chose to make their titles available to outlets open to larger publishers. Publishing under the AMP label is as simple as using an AMP-purchased ISBN, which marks a book as part of the AMP catalog.

Authors retain full control over their books and all copyrights, as well as the choice of distribution outlets and pricing. The author is paid directly by their chosen outlets and AMP has no legal standing (or desire) to interfere in the sales process. The only effective difference between ordinary self-publishing and self-publishing under the Acacia Moon label is:

1. An ISBN is supplied from the AMP account with Bowker. This allows authors to pool resources to purchase ISBNs cheaply in bulk.
2. A webpage and blogging community is supplied for the author on the AMP website. This allows authors to pool webpage resources and readers.
3. Community help is supplied to the author throughout the self-publishing process. This allows authors to pool knowledge to help each other "get back to writing".
4. Access is provided to sites which serve reviewers and libraries (NetGalley, Overdrive). This allows authors access to sites which require "X-or-more" titles for inclusion.
5. Anthology projects are organized for authors who have short stories ready for publishing. This allows authors immediate dissemination and audience growth.

Readers are encouraged to check out our list of writers and resources, and to visit our blog for details on new releases and insight into the world of self-publishing. Writers are welcome to contact us with anthology collaboration ideas or if they are interested in self-publishing under our label.

J.D. think it could use some whittling, and she's probably right, but it is what it is for the moment until I have a better idea of what parts of this is clear and what parts are unclear. That's where you Interested In Self-Publishing folks come in! What impressions do you have from this? Any questions? Thoughts? Ideas? Does the idea of a community of indie authors helping each other out on a strictly volunteer basis (no, seriously, this is not meant to be Drama, it'll be loose and fun and simple) appeal to you at all or am I dreaming the impossible dream?

Feedback welcome!