Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Author Ethics

I'm taking a slight turn from talking about fiction to talk about the people who write books. As the boom in independent publishing has accelerated over the past five years, so has the squishy ethical standards of some of those engaged in it. This is NOT the majority of authors. However, the minority are harming all of us: readers, publishers, and authors alike. In a media-frenzy world we often become inured to bad behavior that seems to be rewarded instead of penalized.

What are some of these behaviors? Plaigarism in whole or in part of a work. Claiming "bestseller" status because the author's title was a bestseller for one day on Amazon free reads. Claiming "award-winning" author on the book cover because the author entered the first three chapters in a writing contest and won first place. Using "sock puppet" reviewers--friends/colleagues who use aliases to provide lots of great reviews. Buying reviews, Facebook likes, Twitter followers or other "Fake" multimedia presence. Constantly harrassing readers/bloggers with multiple emails, tweets, posts every day saying "Buy My Book!" Worst of all is badmouthing a reader, blogger, or other individual for posting an honest review that was not liked by the author or for making any statement about the work that did not result in a five-star review.

I'm an Ethical AuthorThe Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) has worked in a positive way to combat this. Rather than supporting the public outing of each suspected unethical individual, ALLi has instead created a code of ethics and asked authors to state unequivocally that they will follow this code and to post the badge of this code on their website and/or blog.  You can read the code in its entirety here.

I support this movement and absolutely agree with the code. You will notice the badge on my website and this blog. I encourage other authors to also step up and be counted.

Will this stop all the bad behavior? Unfortunately not. But I believe that as more and more authors state they will follow this code, it will be more obvious what the expectations are of all authors. For those authors who  behave badly due to misinformation, this code will stand for the ethical expectations of all authors.

I hope that a large group of authors promising to follow the code and clearly making the badge visible will show the unity of the majority of authors who are professionals, whether independent or traditionally published. These professionals want to be judged on the quality of their work and who they are as ethical authors. These professionals will continue to grow their readership in an ethical manner and continue to treat readers, publishers, and other authors as peers and deserving of respect.

I have always believed that good triumphs over bad, and this is a case where I believe this campaign can make a difference in stopping unethical behavior. If you are an author, I hope you will join me in standing up for the code. If you are a reader, I hope you will join me in supporting ethical authors knowing that they will treat you and their work with respect.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cody Newton's short story Sonder

Continuing with the NIWA Underground Anthology, today I'm visiting with Cody Newton, author of the story "Sonder."

This story is a slice-of-life vignette that juxtaposes the protagonist's simultaneous distance and yet intimacy playing out with the girl at the food cart. I was first attracted to the way Cody describes his characters. The writing is gorgeous. Here is one sample.

"“Her toenails wore a too-perfect coat of deep purple polish—untouched by shoes. Her hair still clung to the fading memory of a recent curl, bouncy, unlike her face and attitude. ”

Writing like that always pulls me in. This is an interesting flash picture of our desire to connect, however briefly.

Tell us about your inspiration for this, Cody.

This was one of those stories that seemed to have been putting itself together, before I even started on it. The whole story is based off an experience I had that was similar to the food cart experience described in the story.

For weeks I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman I saw at the food carts. Not just her, but her story and what had been happening in her life that I knew nothing about. The thought of us as individuals being nothing more than side characters in another’s life isn’t an uncommon thought, but it’s a thought I’ve always enjoyed. And when I saw that woman I became interested in writing a story about her without her ever knowing it existed; or that it was inspired by a two minute interaction at a food cart. An interaction with a guy who played a much smaller role in her life than she ended up playing in his.

Learn more about Cody and his books at Website | Facebook | Twitter

Friday, November 14, 2014

Susan Lute's Holiday Story The Marine's Christmas Proposal

Back to the holiday anthology, The Gift of Christmas, author interviews.  As a reminder, I am continuing my posts for individual authors on what inspired them to write their particular story.  Susan Lute's story, "The Marine's Christmas Proposal," follows her themes of finding a way home and making home wherever you find it.  One thing I personally always love about Su's writing is that she adroitly manages a mainstream romance plot along with a character-driven emotional impact. Her heroes and heroines are never cookie-cutter. That means I love them all the more because of their blemishes, misfortunes, and often messy relationships.

What inspired you to write A Marine's Christmas Proposal?

Raised in a military family, and by a career Marine, some of my earliest memories are of living in that close knit community – Long Island, San Diego, Parris Island. It didn't matter where we lived, there was always a sense of being part of something bigger that sheltered my “real” family. It makes sense to me that I would eventually get around to writing about these sometimes flawed heroes, and the journeys they make to find their way home.

When a story starts bugging me to be written, as this one did, it always comes to me first by way of the characters, and because I write romance, that means a hero and heroine who stumble over each other. In the case of David Randal, a career Marine who leaves the Corps to take care of his orphaned nephew, and Charlee Banks, daughter of the hugely successful CEO of Banks Sportswear, I also wanted to write a boss and secretary story.

The politically correct label these days for secretary is administrative assistant, so how could I keep alive the old fashioned notion of a personal secretary, and at the same time turn this story on it's ear? Trying it in reverse did the trick. The roll of “boss” had to be played by Charlee, and David, forced to take whatever job he could in a depressed economy, took a job as her “secretary”. And because Christmas is my favorite holiday, when the sparks started fly, the story took on a life of it's own. It was anyone's guess how it would end.

Learn more about Susan and her other Windtree Press books.