Summer’s Last Days

There are eight more days until the Autumnal Equinox. Eight more days before summer picks up her green dress and slips into tomorrow’s fog, her prickly heat becoming a memory, her summer revelries leaving behind empty ice cream cones, torn movie tickets, and frayed beach towels. Ah, Summer you have been a she-beast for some with your brutal heat, vicious storms and shaking, boiling, trembling in the Earth. You’ve been cursed and praised, celebrated and bemoaned. However, Summer, your official days are numbered!

Already Autumn’s shadow peeps around the corner. Dried leaves skitter across the driveway. Squirrels scurry to hide and store with an unconscious urgency. The air tingles with delicious hints of something sweet and cool, whispering to the trees of the upcoming Harvest Ball. The “dog of summer” begins its transformation into the “wolf of the mystical.” Autumn, with all her gloriously rich earthy gown, is lurking.

Just a taste of autumn on the wind and my heart races. This is what spring fever is for many, only my spring comes in the twisting umber, crimson, and gold of fall. I am a creature with the blood of ancient druids singing in my veins – or so it must seem as I begin to suffer the insomnia of a changing season, sensing the teasing wisps of cool nights and heavy morning fog. I suffer palpitations of eagerness, welcoming the dry crackle of autumn’s majesty. I bow to her as her lady-in-waiting.

Eight days. Time to lick that last ice cream while slouching on the back porch or deck. See that summer blockbuster. Take a final walk in the park in your short sleeves. Enjoy your sandals. Summer deserves to be enjoyed and then remembered. Take a few more photos. Tell each other what you did on your summer vacation again. Laugh and wince about the sunburn at the pool party. Have one more slice of watermelon.

For me, the sweaters are unpacked and cleaned. Soup stock waits in the freezer. Halloween beckons. Leaves dance! Owls and bats replace the lightning bugs and butterflies. Ice tea fades (though it rarely crosses these lips) in favor of hot chocolate and pumpkin spice. Soon the scents of apples and cinnamon will tantalize the senses.

I hope you had a memorable summer filled with laughter and memories. Speak of them to one another and make the moments indelible. Tick tock. Time is short. I may have one last root beer float just because it reminds me of the summers in my youth.

And then, I’m going to watch the lengthening days turn to early twilight, grab a mug of some apple cider, maybe do one more binge watch of last season’s favorite TV show.

Eight days of Summer’s last hurrah. Have a Coke. Look, there she goes, Miss Lazy Days, sultry and hot. Until next year, my lady.

I’m so excited! Queen Autumn approaches!

pre-autumnsm

 

 (For those who live in the more Southern climes, I realize that the change of season may not appear to you as it does to me. I trust the sentiment of a “virtual season” will resonate with you, instead)

Cover, Peeks, Books, oh my!

Did you catch the big cover reveal yesterday of my new book? Yes, yesterday I posted on my Facebook Author page a nice large picture of the new book cover, By Light Betrayed, Poetry of the Vampires. For those of you not on Facebook, here’s a link so you can peek. Pretty snappy, no? I also put it on my Facebook and Twitter covers. Nothing like a little overkill on publicity, right?

The new book presents dark poetry from the vampires, COLOR photographs by me and includes a very special treat: An excerpt from my upcoming vampire novella, Midnight Assassin, due out next summer (if not earlier). This will be my last book of poetry, and it is totally different from Paper Bones (for those of you who so kindly read it) because it ventures into fantasy, exploring the more gothic and macabre side of the night. Ready to be chilled, thrilled and seduced? Then you will like By Light Betrayed.

For anyone who has been checking in here, I posted a poem from the new book a couple weeks ago. You can see it in Sneak Peeks, but hurry. It is going to disappear soon!

I’ll keep you posted on the day you can order, but it will only be a couple weeks, so great ready!

*************

Yesterday’s #MondayBlogs post about Self-Publishing bears the Bar Sinister has been generating wonderful feedback. Thank you to those of you sending me contact messages and on Facebook. I am grateful for your readership and support. Together we will help uplift the quality of the Indie author.

**************

Some personal news: Do you participate in National Novel Writing Month every November? It is coming closer and time now to prepare. Well I’m a Municipal Liaison for the Charlotte, NC region(one of two) and I’ll be on the forums. If you are in NC or just a part of NaNo, I hope you’ll say hi. You can find me as “poetphoenix.” I’d love to hear from you and I’ll be happy to help you achieve that book goal if I can!

***************

Currently, I’m reading Hidden by Benedict Jacka. I hope you have a good book on the table, a cuppa Joe or a huge mug of tea, a comfy chair and silence to read your favorite author’s latest creation. OH but don’t forget to buy the latest books by some Indie authors that you follow on Twitter or Facebook, too!  Do it because that’s how you support the author. Encourage them to do the same (and maybe they’ll pick up your book, too). Read, support, write, repeat.

****************

Don’t forget to check in to the End the Silence campaign. The contributing women have wonderful stories to tell and offer interesting perspectives. They would welcome your comments.

****************

Thanks for stopping by. Let me hear what you think about the new book cover! And let me hear from you when you publish, too. I support Indies.

As always I remain, yours between the lines!

Why Self-Publishing bears the Bar Sinister

In heraldry, the “bar sinister” – a black diagonal bar across a family’s heraldic shield – proclaimed that the person was a member of the family but a bastard, or having no legitimate claim to titles, lands or fortunes.

 graftonsm

 [The English Duke of Grafton's shield with the "bar sinister" (Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton, was the 2nd illegitimate son of King Charles II by Barbara Villers, Duchess of Cleveland)]

If Indie published (the new term for “self-published”) authors were to have a heraldic shield, they would have to bear this bar as a stain on their family tree because self-publishing remains a stigmatized form of becoming a published author.

I know, not fair. But why is this true?

First, let me give you some basic information. In 2008, for the first time ever, self-publishing overtook traditional publishing in volume. This was possible because of three innovations:

– the internet, because people had access to more information than ever before

– digital printing, allowing people to have access to magazines, news and, later, books

– print-on-demand publishing, eliminating the need to print and store books in massive quantities, enabling bookstores to reduce stock and the author to effectively publish on the internet and get smaller numbers of print books for sales.

These changes made Indie publishing more economical and immediate. And that’s when the need for the “bar sinister” arose.

You see, everyone has a story to tell. When digital and self-publishing became “easy,” so out came every Tom, Dick and Harriet author with every conceivable truth, lie, and fable imaginable, and the market began to see a huge glut of books in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, no one told them that to be a professional, Indie author, you need to look the part, despite – or in spite of – the ease of digital and print publishing.

Yes, you heard me right. Indie authors glutted the market and most – not all, by any means – but more bad than good flooded the world. Because the world made it easy for every single person to write and publish a book. And it seemed like everyone did. And traditional authors – most of them – laughed in derision.

Hence the applied bar sinister. Editors of respected magazines who had upheld some very high publishing standards were appalled at the poor quality of published material. Agents were greeted with unprofessional, rude, uneducated-in-the-writer-ly- way letters and, thanks to the digital area, emails that curled hair and forced grunts of disgust.  Publishing houses reeled in shock at the sudden and unwelcome glut of books that frankly, were poorly put together, with childish covers and without edits for grammar or plot, whose stories would never be considered in the traditional sense.

So, the self-publishing world earned a bad name. Words like “vanity” and “subsidy” publishing became the by-words for people who went their own way. Publishers, agents, editors and even college professors, jumped on the bandwagon to smash and bash the newly self-published.

And they – we – deserved it. We deserve it still. And that is why the Indie author must bear the bar sinister.  Why? Because the quality of self-published books is still below what it should and could be!

I understand that you have story to tell and you want to tell it NOW. But having a tale to tell does not alleviate the need to tell it well, to understand the correct way to speak and to write, to take the hodgepodge of ideas and organize them into a coherent, mystical plot, to present your book in a customary format, established by respected guidelines and to finally put a carefully, thoughtfully, designed cover on that wonderfully worked book so that people will gasp and say, “oh I must buy this!”

Oh sure, you can publish that story of yours without all that I’ve mentioned. And what will that earn you? A sideways glance from authors everywhere as others – best-selling, award-winning, highly successful authors, agents, publishers, magazine czars – look at your work and proclaim quietly, “oh, another self-published book.”

That is exactly WHY Indie authors must bear the bar sinister, the bastard of the family! Because we, as a group, don’t seem to care enough to make our books the most well-prepared, professional things out there. When I set your book down beside a traditionally published book, I don’t want to be able to tell who is an Indie and who isn’t. And yes, right now, that matters a great deal. We are in competition!

If you want Indie authors to be able to have the same respect as traditionally published, best-sellers, we have to take enough pride in our work to study how to make a good book, no, a great book. Our books have to  be formatted according to style guidelines, they have to have front matter, body, and back matter that is appropriate. We have to be sure simple things are done correctly (like not saying Forward when we mean Foreword), that our covers are high quality and our grammar and style is appropriate for our audience (don’t give me a 12th grade reader for an adult mystery-thriller).

When Indie authors everywhere adhere to things like the Chicago Manual of Style, when they study their craft and learn the correct way to format a story, write dialogue, develop plot and character, when Indie authors care enough to present covers that don’t look like cookie-cutters from someone’s family photo file, then we will achieve the respect that we desire and deserve. Then no one will ever put a bar sinister on our shields again!

We have a long way to go. It starts with you and me. Yes, it will be more expensive because you are going to pay for an editor or a book cover designer. Yes, you will pay for webinars and college classes to learn how to write. You will buy books which you will actually read and you will learn what you haven’t been doing. It won’t be easy, convenient or fast. But it will make you good at your craft – writing.

And only then you will publish your stories and we will sit back in awe, never knowing whether you were an Indie or not. We won’t be able to tell. The publishers won’t be able to tell. We’ll make them blink in surprise. And slowly we’ll stop labeling “us” from “them.” No one will be able to tell and they will stop trying to separate us.

Let it begin with, “I don’t want to look like I’m self-published.” That’s what I said. And I’m winning awards and garnering acceptance. I want the respect that comes with being a published author. I don’t want to have to label or classify myself. Do I say, I’m a white woman author? No, of course not. Neither do I want Indie authors to feel a need to identify themselves with a label.

Study. Learn. Strive to be the best, better than the others. Do not lower the standards by which we, the Indie, strive to achieve. Help us lift the bar sinister, the stigma, that comes from self-publishing.

When the Indie author will no longer bear the stigma of a digital, economical bastard, we shall stand as kings and queens, equals among all, but a proud Indie in an Indie kingdom.

***

 For further reference on this opinion read:

The Chicago Manual of Style

How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki, http://www.digitalbookworld.com

Joel Friedlander, award winning book designer and blogger, thebookdesigner.com, practical advice

What Your Friends Can’t Tell You About Your Self-Published Book, Deborah Plummer, Huffington Post, The Blog

10 Tips to Make Your Self Published Book Look Professional, Sarah Juckes, Alliance of Independent Authors, Nov 2013

10 Reasons Why Self-Publishing Books Don’t Sell, Kristen Eckstein, thefutureofink.com

Hm, what’s new?

Are you following the End the Silence campaign? Jenna posted new items by Kate Givens and me.  Although I noted that people are visiting the campaign website (and wow, we all really do thank you for that), we sure would love to hear from you. So, please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, begin discussions, offer suggestions — anything at all. Just go to the page of the person you wish you comment on, and to the right of that person’s offering(s) you will see a ( ) comments. Click to add yours! It’s that easy. And I thank you in advance.

I received a very nice comment from a young person who asked about self publishing. I’m writing something up on this for next week’s Monday blog, so stay tuned. Basically I was asked, “how come self-publishing books get a bad rap?” And Sylvia, an honest answer is coming!

And I’m sure there are other new things. :) BIG new thing coming next week. Make it a good weekend.

Until next week, I remain, yours between the lines!

Honorable Mention for Paper Bones!

Good morning to you all!

Previously Paper Bones was a Finalist in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. Six finalists were chosen in the General Poetry category from 1900 entries. I could not have been prouder of this achievement! Then we waited for the final judging to take place and the announcement of the award-winners. That announcement came on Sept 1.

I am pleased to tell you that Paper Bones is the Honorable Mention award winner!

honor-shiny-web

A gold, silver, bronze, and honorable mention awards were announced. The other two finalists in the category will remain as finalists (which is an award in itself, by the way).

Again, I’m proud but humbled at the success of Paper Bones. I hope these accolades will nudge some of you to give the book a try!

***

If you haven’t browsed around my newly designed blog, please check out the weeded, and great improved, set of Links. The writers, artists, and authors I’ve listed are fun and immensely talented. Plus, links open in new windows, so you don’t have to leave here.

Then pop up above for a sneak peek at new work before you cruise over to the Books tab and click to make a purchase if so inclined. I appreciate your support (and part of all purchases to I Wish You Joy goes to the American Heart Association).

Finally, look for a BIG surprise next week! That’s your cliffhanger. Now go and spread the word. Someone’s coming….

As always, I remain, yours between the lines!

End the Silence? Okay, listen to this…

“Every 15 seconds a woman in America is being abused. One out of four women will fall victim to domestic violence at some point in their life, and this is a season-long call for action. There is silence about this. This is something that isn’t talked about. It’s probably one of the most under-reported things going on in America today.” ~Dr Phil McGraw, “Dr Phil”

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. Last year, I was honored to participate in an END THE SILENCE campaign created by the award-winning author, Jenna Brooks. She gathered together an amazing group of women who offered commentary, stories (and in my case, poetry) about domestic violence and what is happening to women everywhere, or programs, or both. It was a wonderful honor to share poetry from the then newly released PAPER BONES to this cause. And the women! They were incredible with their honest and eye-opening stories.

Jenna Brooks is once again opening the door to another “END THE SILENCE? Okay, listen to this…” campaign and once more I am honored to add my voice to the contributors. I’ve offered four unpublished poems and an editorial commentary. This year’s theme focuses on “why is violence against women still so common?” Because everyone knows about DV, and yet….everyone also seems to think that everyone else is doing something about it, so they don’t need to. Plus, there remain a great many women who are being overlooked.
Certainly no one has been “silent.” EVERYONE knows about Domestic Violence and Abuse. So, maybe we’ve been shouting about the wrong things?

Because this issue is so HUGE and needs time to open discussions, Jenna has decided to open her campaign a month early. So starting today, the End the Silence 2014 is released! I am providing a link (see the top of the sidebar) , and I hope everyone will come by, and visit often, read what these fabulous women have to tell you, and open discussions with them. I am so proud and honored to be a part of this again, but my voice is one of the lucky ones. So I speak for some who can’t or are afraid. Will you listen?

And don’t think that what you see on today is all there will be. New things will be added later!

So, join us, won’t you? Help us make a difference and END THE SILENCE.

I’ll look forward to your thoughts here, there, or on Facebook. Thanks for listening. Now, let’s talk!
take-a-stand-domestic-viole

Every Writer Uses Them

“‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.”
~William Shakespeare

Moonlight by Sherry (C) 2014 All Rights Reserved

Moonlight by Sherry
(C) 2014 All Rights Reserved

Ah, what is a hint?

An intimation or allusion? Could it be a mention, a whiff, a shadow or a whisper? Perhaps it might be described as a foreshadowing?

Too menacing? Perhaps not…

Isn’t a shadow also a hint, a foretelling, of what is about to emerge?

Hints can be enticing, seductive, compelling, evocative, dreamy.

Maddening. Delightful. Full of promise. Yes, that’s it. Fun. Even better.

soon....

soon….

Every writer uses them.  Why shouldn’t I? Enjoy!