Don’t #AskELJames, Don’t Tell

Before I begin my thoughts on #AskELJames, let me tell you a “secret”.

Back in 2010, the first agent who read the first early draft of “Vampire Syndrome” chucked my manuscript aside after reading just the first two sentences, and expressed an opinion similar to this:

AskELJames Read Tweet
/rant ˅

Even better, I had paid $50 for the ‘privilege’ of attending her workshop, in which I was promised she would read the first two pages of our manuscripts. My experience cost me $25 for each sentence she read. I myself am of the opinion that if you charge $50 per person admission, you had better damn well read the first two pages from all the attendees. Pay me $50 in cash, and I’ll read two pages of anything, and give you my opinion of it. Dinosaur porn, forklift service manuals, Justin Bieber fanzines; no problem, bring ’em to me. ;-)

/rantover ˄

This agent’s workshop ended up being worth far more than $50, for me. Not for her unfinished critique of my work, but for the hard-won advice she gave us about the publishing industry. Specifically, the advice she gave us regarding advances for those authors who were prospects to sign on for Big Five (New York) publishing houses. When my ‘time’ came two years later, and my manuscript was in the hands of New York editors, I knew better than to take two of the deals that were offered to me, and that agent’s advice two years earlier was a contributing factor in my decisions.

Also, when someone thinks you’re “illiterate”, you have nowhere to go but up. Even E.L. James can’t say she ever paid $50 just to get that sort of opinion of her work, so I have her beat there. :twisted:

Some authors like Anne Rice see “jealousy over James’ success” as being the driving force behind the #AskELJames storm. As in, other authors are jealous of her, just because the Fifty Shades trilogy has made her wealthy.

Let me dispel a few of these notions. I turned down a significant advance from a New York house, and signed with PDMI Publishing (an independent traditional publisher) for no advance a few months later. I was in the position where I could have altered a fundamental precept of my work, for the purposes of financial gain. I chose not to, and instead went with a smaller publisher who respects the integrity of my original creative vision.

And, as much as we’d all love to have the money, would most of us really want to trade places with E.L. James, especially right now? I wouldn’t. Her success has come with a whole freighter ship full of baggage. James’ work, the ‘quality’ thereof, and its subject manner, have long been subject to an unprecedented barrage of harsh criticism in all forms of media, not just this latest frightfest on Twitter.

I didn’t join in the #AskELJames trashfest, because there are things I admire about her. James’ success came from fans connecting with her work in a genuine, non-hype-driven manner. She had sold over 100,000 books on her own as an indie author, which to me is much more impressive than her subsequent sales, which had the benefit of widespread Big Five distribution and an even wider-spread media hype machine.

And, whatever opinions one may hold about her writing and the quality thereof, she is a fellow author. We need to support other authors, not tear them down. The #AskELJames Tweet I posted above reminds me in the most personal fashion that any author is, or can be, subjected to this same merciless bullying.  Even the most beloved of authors can be sucked into the trolls’ quicksand trap.

J.K. Rowling vs. Westboro @Twitter

Rowling vs. Political Trolls @Twitter

The real driving issue here, which I haven’t seen anyone else discussing, is not a simple “jealousy” of James’ success. It’s the perception that a work of “inferior quality” has become successful, at the expense of unknown “better-quality” works. What no authors seem to be willing to admit is that they are upset that the public is buying James’ books instead of “better” works, and virtually all of the authors who Tweet-bashed her believe their own work to be “better” than James’. So what we really have here, when you dig down to the core of the matter, is that these authors are upset that the public is buying James’ work instead of “better” works, including, but not limited to, these authors’ own works.

One of the “old” rules of publishing is that authors have to put in years of their time refining the quality of their craft, subjecting their writing to the “sharpening tools” of critique groups, beta readers, etc. Then, after all that, an E.L. James comes along and knocks over their apple cart by directly connecting with her readers and bypassing all the old-school “dues” authors assume everyone has to pay, to be a “success”. The logic behind the mass of knee-jerk reactions thus becomes all too apparent.

Myself, I’m confident I made the right choice in refining my writing craft. I paid the old-school dues with the goal of improving my writing, not necessarily to be a “success”. I prioritize quality over the chase of the dollar. The successes of James, and Stephenie Meyer before her, prove that THE STORY is what connects with the public, not the perceived quality of writing. In today’s post-apple-cart publishing world, what many call “quality writing” may actually hamper your potential for success. Factors such as excess use of descriptions and fifty-cent phrases to “better” your work can act as barriers which will keep busy, time-deprived readers from enjoying your work. Let’s face it, many people are now reading books on their phones. Not to say you have to “dumb down” your work, but you can have quality, good pacing and reasonable brevity in your writing, when you make this your goal. The main point my Vampire Syndrome Saga makes is that wisdom can be expressed perfectly in simple terms, without falling into the common traps of over-analyzing, over-thinking and over-writing.

We can all benefit from following the Golden Rule. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” The ‘simplest’ of wisdoms are often the most profound.

A Conversation with Joel Eisenberg

Daven Anderson:

Clay Gilbert interviews TV/film producer, screenwriter and author Joel Eisenberg. Our friend Joel is a fantastic and very insightful motivational speaker as well, so if Joel has a seminar in your area, don’t miss it! I drove a thousand miles to attend his Catching The Muse senimar, and it was worth the drive!

Originally posted on PORTALS AND PATHWAYS:

Today, my guest on Portals and Pathways is producer, screenwriter and author Joel Eisenberg.  He’s a very kind, humble and inspiring man, and it was my great pleasure, honor, and a lot of fun to have this chat with him.

CG: Joel, which came first—wanting to be a writer, or wanting to be in the movie business? And when did you know that was what you wanted to do?

JE: Good question. I wanted to be a writer in the movie business. That’s not a copout answer but the truth, and I knew it from a very early age. When I was a boy, I eschewed sports and leisure activities in favor of writing. I wrote short stories based on my favorite television shows and movies. A typical plot was the crew of the Starship Enterprise teams with the Six Million Dollar Man to save the world from the Planet…

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Brave New Publishing—Amazon Testing Paying Authors by the Page

Daven Anderson:

Many Amazon KDP authors have been following the “more and shorter stories” model for years now, and this will only amplify that trend. Many readers only read the first pages of works that don’t ‘hook’ them’, so from the authors’ perspective, quantity would be better, because it increases the odds of getting pages read, and with ‘pay-per-page’, this would increase income. Now you could write something horrid, and if a million people or more read the first few pages… $ 3:) :-P This may further endanger long-form novels on KDP, which could also mean a greater percentage of long-form works going to outside (of Amazon) publishers.

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie

We live in a really strange time and technology has altered the publishing landscape into something we could never have imagined in 1999. The changes have been nothing short of science fiction. Well, buckle your seat belts because it is about to happen again. Just about the time we kind of get the knack of things, it seems there is yet another upheaval and we have to adapt.

This is why I wrote my social media branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.  My methods keep us from having to tear down and start over every time something in the tech world goes topsy-turvy and we can maintain brand momentum no matter what. But this time it isn’t social media throwing the curve ball.

It is Amazon.

I’ve worked hard to be balanced in all my opinions…

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I drove a thousand miles to catch my muse!

Joel Eisenberg Banner June 2015Catching Your Muse: How To Claim Your Artistic Spirit

Snead State Community College and Tyward Books, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, are proud to present a very special workshop with producer/screenwriter/author Joel Eisenberg. Join us on June 15, 2015 at the Fielder Auditorium for “Catching Your Muse: How To Claim Your Artistic Spirit.”

In addition to numerous film and television projects, Eisenberg is the co-author of the eight-part epic fantasy series,”The Chronicles of Ara”. The first volume, “Creation,” launched March 15, 2015 at a standing-room-only event at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Eisenberg and his co-author Stephen Hillard are presently developing a television project based on this series.

Joel and the Mayor of Boaz, AlabamaJoel and the Mayor of Boaz, Alabama

Joel with Andrea Zug (l) and Greta King (r)Joel with Andrea Zug (L) and Greta King (R)

Joel (r) with Chrystian McKinneyJoel (R) with Chrystian McKinney

Ben Trexel, guitarist and music producerBen Trexel, guitarist and music producer

Joel Eisenberg speakingJoel Eisenberg speaking

LaWayne Orlando Childrey, Author and JournalistLaWayne Orlando Childrey, Author and Journalist

Daven Anderson (l) with Joel (r)Daven Anderson (L) with Joel (R)

Tc McKinney (l) and Greta King (r)Tc McKinney (L) and Greta King (R)

Virginia Jennings (l) and Tc McKinney (r)Virginia Jennings (L) and Tc McKinney (R)

Tc McKinney, Founder/CEO of PDMI Publishing, LLCTc McKinney, Founder/CEO of PDMI Publishing, LLC

Stacey Brewer (l) and Tc McKinney (r)Stacey Brewer (L) and Tc McKinney (R)

Clay Gilbert (l) and Tc McKinney (r)Clay Gilbert (L) and Tc McKinney (R)

Joel (l) and Clay Gilbert (r)Joel (L) and Clay Gilbert (R)

Memorial Day Blues

Daven Anderson:

We must embrace our freedom to live the best we can, because it is the brave who sacrificed to ensure us this very freedom.

Originally posted on Catch a Falling Star:

What do you suppose it means that I am ill and confined to bed on Decoration Day?  You know, the holiday we now call Memorial Day?  I used to feel very patriotic.  I believed in singing the anthem and saying the pledge.  I joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a while because my wife is a true believer… and they tell me those things are un-Christian.  And now that I can no longer claim to be in that religion any more… because I really don’t believe…   Not that I don’t believe in God.   I have evidence in my own life (they say that if you talk to God you are normal, but if He answers, you are either a prophet or a lunatic… and I am definitely no prophet).  But I don’t believe in their God who calls the science of evolution a lie, and forbids blood transfusions…

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Unleashing The Muse on June 16th

Kristen - Writer's Digest 101 Best Sites
Creation Novel (Large)

This June 16th, from 10am to 6pm, Tyward Books of Albertville, Alabama, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, will host “Unleashing The Muse”, our spectacular multi-author book signing event. If you love reading, don’t miss your chance to attend one of the biggest multi-author events Alabama has ever seen. Admission is free to the public.

Our event features TV/film producer and author Joel Eisenberg, co-author of “The Chronicles Of Ara,” a heralded new eight-volume fantasy novel series, now being developed for television by Eisenberg and his co-author Steve Hillard. Joel will be signing copies of “Creation,” Volume One of The Chronicles Of Ara series. “Creation” debuted on March 15th in a standing-room-only event in Pasadena, California, and it has already received countless five-star reviews on Amazon and millions of hits on social media channels. Don’t miss this rare chance to meet Mr. Eisenberg in person and get your copy of “Chronicle” signed right here in Albertville, Alabama, instead of having to travel all the way to L.A.!

Other authors confirmed for our signing event include Kristen Lamb (renowned blogger and author of the #1 bestseller “Rise Of The Machines”), Lawayne Childrey (Nationally-renowned News Journalist, winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award, and author of “Peeling Back The Layers”), Jack Gannon and Cyndi Williams-Barnier (“Murder in Twos & Threes”, “Ancient Footsteps”, “Trail Of The Talon”), Clay Gilbert (“Dark Road To Paradise” and the “Annah: Children of Evohe” Series), Greta King (“Waiting For Santa”, “The Adventures of Fred and Ted”), Andrea Zug (the “Lancers Inc. Mysteries” Series), Virginia Jennings (“The Alien Mind” and “Visionary From The Stars”), Daven Anderson (the “Vampire Syndrome” Saga), James Christopher Hill (Renowned Artist), Clarence Bonner (“I Talk Slower Than I Think”), John T. Wayne (“Catfish John [the anatomy of a bottom dweller]”, “Ol’ Slantface”, “Blood Once Spilled” and “The Treasure Del Diablo”), T.K. Thorne (“Angels at the Gate”, “Last Chance for Justice”, “Noah’s Wife”), Debra Guyton (“Butterfly in the Breeze”), Delilah Fondren (“The House Warming”, “Be Still My Love”, “Michael [The Final Chapter]”, “Marriage, a Barrel of Laughs [Unless You’re the One in the Barrel]”, “I Fell in Love With a Witch”, “When the Storm Rolled In Lead [Surrendering My All]”, The “Forgetting” Series of 5 Novellas, Joy Ross Davis (“Countenance”, “Emalyn’s Treasure”), and Ginger Sanders (“Round Eyes”, “He Goes Before Us”).

Don’t miss this chance to meet all of these renowned authors in one mega-event, and get your books signed!
Tyward Books, 7032 Hwy 431, Albertville, AL 35950

#CHOOSETHISDAY on May 1

Daven Anderson:

We really do make a choice every day to live.
#choosethisday

Originally posted on The Fine Art of Visiting:

Today I am writing to ask all of you on Twitter and Facebook for your help—and it won’t cost you anything but a little bit of positivity.

After October 20, 1997—the day my husband chose death over life—“choose this day” became my mantra. Each day, no matter how sad or horrified or frustrated I felt by his suicide and the emotional mess it left behind, I chose life—and with this simple daily act, my sense of empowerment grew.

On Tuesday, when The Far End of Happy is officially released, I will have completed a 17-year arc by seeing my novel based on his suicide standoff through to publication. I told that story through the perspectives of the three women closest to him because these women are changed by the day—broken by it, yes, but also capable of healing and making a difference in the world.

Now I want to make a difference.

I want to write inspirational messages and…

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