Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite holiday of the year. It's not the turkey, the pies, the variety of salads and veggies. It's not the cozy sleepiness afterward. I love Thanksgiving because of it's meaning, the whole concept of giving thanks for what we have, what we share, and taking an entire day--or weekend--to count blessings.

I love celebrating Thanksgiving because there is no expectations to give presents, go shopping, wear some kind of special outfit--unless you enjoy dressing as a pilgrim--or any of the things associated with most other holiday celebrations.

Here is my abbreviated list of things I am thankful for:
  • My family, both immediate family and extended family, who have always supported me, even when my decisions were questionable.
  • My friends, both those in the past and in the present. I have been blessed that people pass through my  life and always leave me something amazing for having been there. Some people were friends for short periods of time--a year or two, while a few have been friends with me for more than 40 years. That's a long time to still care about someone.
  • My church community. I am especially blessed to be with the community I am in now. Though I have always valued the churches that have been a part of my life, this one feels particularly like home.
  • The beautiful location where I live--Portland, Oregon. I have lived in many places over my 60+ years of life--east coast, west coast, the south, and the midwest. I have traveled to Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Although everywhere I've been has something amazing to offer, for me Portland has it all--easy access to deserts, mountains, forests, rivers and the ocean. Mostly temperate weather, but the opportunity to get to snow or sunshine within a few hours.
  • Writers and Musicians who have brought me so much joy. I am fortunate to be part of both of these creative communities that feed my soul. No one understand the creative journey more than someone who is also pursuing that journey. No one else can understand the silence and often lonely act of creation, and the struggle to share it with others. It is a unique baring of the soul that most careers do not require and one that I do not take for granted in others. I am thankful to have so many creative people in my life.
I have been blessed a hundred times to be surrounded by people who are willing to share some of their life's journey with me. They share it with kindness, as well as compassionate kicks-in-the-butt when needed. They share a part of themselves with every conversation, every hug, and especially in the silences when we are together.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Friday Book Shopping
For me, the whole post Thanksgiving shopping season is way too crazy making. The combination of over-stimulated senses, colors, crowds in the mall all make it too much for my brain to process. That's why the best place to go on Black Friday is to a bookstore, talk to some authors, get recommendations from the owner, and purchase the gift of reading for everyone on your gift list.

I'm going to be participating with three other authors at just such an event at Jacobsen's Books in downtown Hillsboro, Oregon.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Jacobsen's is one of those places packed floor to ceiling with books--used books, new books, gift books, chidren's and adult books, bookmarks, holiday cards, and lots more gift ideas. And if they don't have it on the shelf they will order for you!

So, wherever you are, consider spending some of your shopping time at your local bookstore. What better gift to give to your children, your siblings, your parents, and best friends than a great story. Below is a wonderful idea for a toddler. We are giving it to our grandson this year. What books are you considering for your gift list?

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.