April Update #Iamdying

Greetings from crazy writer land,

I am on the last 10-15k words of KINGDOM and I am super fried but trying to end strong. It has come together in a weird and wonderful way that I didn’t plan for but somehow works better. This always seems to happen, my writing structural plan more or less hits its original high points but how I get to them always happens in a random organic fashion. I’ve learnt not to stress too much when things go a bit haywire but I tell you, sometimes its hard to relinquish control. It’s fairly different from the other two of The Blood Lake Chronicles as most of the action takes place in Faerie, where we learn HEAPS about the Seren Du family origins and all sorts of shenanigans happens. I’m going to be a little bit (a lot) nuts by the time that it is done but I’m feeling good about it so thats a good sign. I do have plenty of the usual impostor syndrome voices going on but trying to do my best not to feed that troll.

 

The writer brain and anxiety has been a lot less this time around because I am simply managing my shit better. ‘My shit’ being my mental health in this case. I’m pretty new to yoga (only been practicing for about 10 months) but its seriously helping me keep calm and also provides a good way for my to untangle plots while I move. Sitting still is really hard for me so the concept of a moving meditation has done me wonders. I highly recommend Allie- The Journey Junkie on Youtube if you are a newbie and want to learn some yoga. Shes a great teacher and the online community is a good support. I also have had my first go of a sensory deprivation tank this  month and I can’t recommend it enough. I love a long bath and this was the bath experience heightened to perfection. I’m big on meditation and this gave me the deep calm of a really good meditation session. It helped clear a lot of the screaming in my head and general feelings of being over whelmed that comes with tying up a book.

Speaking of books (and this is SO overdue) but I have decided that I am going to do a relaunch of my Western Wars series. So, some of you might remember last year I ran a promo through Kindle Scout for a YA fantasy called ‘Eastern Gods’…it didnt get picked up and I did release it as per the Kindle Scout rules, but then I took it down again after a month. WHY you might be asking? Well, a few reasons, some professional, some personal, but mainly I wanted to get it re-edited with US grammar (I’m Aussie so our grammar is different) and also I wanted to release it with the second book. The second book needed to be edited heavily and when I came to do it last August I was just too burnt out and wanted to throw the whole lot into a fire. Last year, I was mentally and emotionally burnt a lot and its taken me nearly 8 months to bounce back. Anyway, book  2 has sat there until the last month when I got some sound advice from a friend who really believes in the series (hey Kathryn) and convinced me to suck it up, do the work and get it released. As a result of this lecture, I have been doing edits on the second book when I’ve needed a break from KINGDOM. It’s come together in a way that I’m finally happy with which is great, and while it does need to go off to the line editor, both books are scheduled to be released digitally this year. For a paperback edition I’d like to combine the books as it is one continuous story, but I’ll keep you all posted on that. They are written in a different sort of style to my other books (they are epic fantasy after all) but I hope you will enjoy them if they sound like your thing.

The good news is it means you’ll definitely get three books out of me this year; Eastern Gods, The Golden Queen, and KINGDOM.  I don’t know if the Mychal spin off book will be ready to go as it still needs a bit of re-writing and perfecting but I want to try and do this work as a palate cleanser between KINGDOM and the starting of book 2 of NEW SECRET PROJECT.

I’m sure there is other stuff I’m forgetting to add in this update, but I’m too off in writer land to remember everything at the moment. I’m sporadically on social media but mostly hiatusing until the book is finished.

See you on the other side,

Amy x

 

Bad writing day and advice- via Chuck Wendig

There are days when being a writer makes you feel like you are a Creator God, Designer of Worlds, Breaker and Maker of Destinies. But some characters, like man, are prone to do, they turn around and say, “Fuck you Creator God, I’m gonna do what I want!” and they destroy that perfectly structured PLAN that you lovingly designed for them. I guess what I am trying to say is.. “Fuck you, Merlin! Do as you’re told!….please?”

Note: My Merlin is nothing like the above Merlin character. My Merlin is a temperamental lovable psycho like Alucard from Hellsing crossed with a magical reprobate. It’s just therapeutic for me to watch ANY Merlin get slapped today.

Whenever I am having a bad writing day, I go back and read THIS by Chuck Wendig… but this paragraph in particular is resonating hard with me today:

“Consider: the act of telling a story is you CONJURING AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE INSIDE YOUR MIND and then using words as knives to CARVE THAT UNIVERSE INTO REALITY SO THAT OTHERS CAN VISIT YOUR IMAGINATION. “Today I am going to make a world out of my brain that you can go to in your spare time,” you say aloud, hopefully realizing that this is far more significant and far more bizarre than tying your shoes or blowing your nose. Creating whole worlds is pyroclastic. It is volcanic. It’s heat and fire, it’s molten rock, it’s lightning inside black smoke amid the nose and clamor of thundering earth and boiling air. It is an astonishing, generative act.

And it’s sometimes hard.

Sometimes what we do is stage magic. Sometimes the magic is sacrificial.

Stage magic requires hours of practice where you get it wrong.

Sacrificial magic requires blood on the altar.

In both cases, the magic — be it trick or spell — is hard as hell.

As it should be. As it must be.” 

I love writing, and if it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be fun OR worth it.

Okay, bitching over. I’m off to be a vengeful God. xo

 

Writing is Love, and Love is Hell

Quote of the Day, via Terrible Minds blog by the amazing Robyn Bennis (read it)

Pretty much sums up how I feel about my current WIP…

“Love Is Hell

I love to write. A lot of you love to write, I bet. But, as with any love, there are days you hate it. Some days, writing feels like endless toil. There are days when writing acts distant for no apparent reason, because writing can be a passive-aggressive jerk. Writing is the sort of lover who breaks up with you, then slinks in naked while you’re taking a shower, like nothing happened. You’ll stay up all night with writing and regret it when you have to go to work in the morning. There’ll even be times when you’re trying to focus on something else, but writing won’t stop talking to you no matter how politely you ask.

Simply put, writing is an asshole. Writing steals your money and spends it on stupid things, like another gimmicky book on how to write better, and then it acts like it bought that book for both of you. Writing will take you to heaven and back all day long, but the next morning it’ll be gone without even leaving a note.

Because writing is love, and love is hell.”

I am a Writer right?

Chuck Wendig, the bearded writer guru and gnarly writer, published a great blog over on his kick ass blog Terrible Minds called ‘A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer’.  In it he makes this very true point:

‘There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.’

And it is..so why the hell writers struggle so much to own it? Why do we look to others to give it definition?

There’s a bit of heated conversation going on about whether having a degree gives you that tick of approval from society and peers, a magical That’ll do, little writer, that’ll do moment where you will suddenly be seen as the artist you are.

Yeah, sorry guys it’s not gonna happen.

A degree is great but when you graduate you still have to get a job and if you are lucky enough to get a job in say, publishing, (and these are few and far between, especially in Australia) you’re still going to be put on the same wage as someone working in retail. I recently saw a job for a publishing assistant where they wanted someone with a degree and minimum 2 years experience… for a wage I used to get in customer service. A degree might help you get a job but its not going to necessarily help give you writer validation.

My point is no one is ever going to give you the “I AM NOW A WRITER” moment and a degree, job in publishing, or a book out won’t always help either. I know this from experience. I’ve been writing full time for fifteen years and have written twelve books and it has only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to say ‘I am a writer’ when people ask what I do, not ‘I work as a contractor for the government…and I also write a bit.’ I had this moment not when any of my books came out, when I saw them on a shelf in a bookshop, not when people have been repeating it to me over and over again over the years. This moment came when I rang a recruiting company about a contract for content writing and the consultant I talked to said, “Your resume looks like an Administrator resume. You need to write it again and put all that experience you just told me about at the beginning.” And I had to sit down and really go through the process of spelling out all the experience I do have in black and white. At the end of it I was like, “Fuck me, I AM a writer.” I had been doing the job thing all wrong over the years believing I was an administrator and not a writer. I don’t think I am the only one out that does this to themselves.

I recently read a great book by indie powerhouse Joanna Penn called The Successful Author Mindset. In it she talks about having to use “I am a writer” as a kind of mantra until she believed it. She even starts the book straight up with self doubt and imposter syndrome because every author on earth feels it:

‘Embrace self doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.’

I personally don’t read a lot of self help for writers type books but I have huge respect for Joanna Penn and this book really helped me out to realign my brain in a time I needed it (Derek Murphy also gives really good advice for writers and his courses are fantastic and have helped me alot).

I still need to go back and read these chapters regularly because I’ve started writing a new book that scares the shit out of me. I’ve tackled some big ones before but this is next level for me. There is a lot of research involved and has the tingly potential to end up being the best thing I’ve ever written or a heaving pile of crap. Its terrifying and intimidating and its helping me grow and write in new ways. DO I think I have the talent to do it justice? Hell no. Am I going to do it anyway? Hell yes.  Because that’s what makes us writers right? We give up our social lives and our rec time and we work unsatisfying jobs to pay bills while we hustle words and try and write the ones that scare us and helps us grow and maybe makes us money.

So what if were are anxious and insecure and feel like we are walking down the street naked every time we release words into the world that will judge us..we are writers its how we operate.

I am not going to be around too much in the next few weeks, I am going crazy full editor mode to get Eastern Gods, my new YA Fantasy book, all ready to pitch to Kindle Scout. The thought of releasing this one soon is pretty exciting as it was the first book I ever wrote that I was really proud of. It’s taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch and I’m stoked how it has come together. I’ll tell you guys more about it when I get closer to knowing dates and have a cover to share.

In other Amy book world news, Wylt is going well so check it out if you dig gothic romance, and Cry of the Firebird is on a price drop for those who want grittier, urban fantasy with lots of Gods and monsters.

Also, if you want something short, steampunky and based in an alternative Australia check out my new short story a Women in Men’s Waistcoats.  It’s a lot of random fun.

Keep writing you crazy beautiful writers,

A xo

 

 

 

Origins of WYLT : The Blood Lake Chronicles

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Wylt’s launch is one week away! Thank you to all of the lovely ARC readers who have given me feedback in time for me to fix a few formatting mistakes so the finished copy is perfect.

This blog is going to be as spoiler free as possible but I wanted to share with you how Wylt came into being. Like many of the more interesting things I’ve done it started with a dare.

My best friend and I go through ‘Monster Porn’ stages where life and study becomes so full on that the only books we can consume are romance. Usually with monsters, sometimes with time travelling knights and aliens with questionable anatomy.

The below video by the wonderful Rachel Hollis is a pretty accurate representation of every conversation we have during our romance binge phases:

We were going through such a phase which included me complaining about how disappointing I’d found a top selling vampire romance when the bestie said, ‘You should write one.’ I laughed hard. I have romance elements in my stories but write a full-blown romance? That was a completely different genre. Then she said the magic words ‘I dare you.’ And I agreed to give it a shot.

Writing romance is a strange and wonderful experience. I recommend that every writer try it at least once. There is a definite formula to it but the things you can do within that formula are fantastic. Structurally it has a different beat to every other book I’ve written and I cannot thank JamiGold and her wonderful Beat Sheet Guides for keeping me from wandering off.

I knew I wanted to have a classic gothic feel but with a modern setting, I wanted vampires but a new take on them (I hope you like my new origin story) and I wanted an older female hero that was no nonsense. I was tired of reading stories of 20 something innocent (or highly damaged) girls that you find so often in such novels. I wanted someone real thrown into a world that she thought she knew and then slowly flip it on its head.

Removing all the fantasy elements from the story, the focus has a lot to do with family and the way they interact with each other, the roles that siblings and ourselves fall into. The deep obligations that transcend blood  and that bind people together.

I am a really big nerd when it comes to faerie and a character that had always haunted me was The Autumn Queen. She made her first appearance in a nightmare that I turned into a short story called The Red Shoes that you can find here. She’s never removed her claws from my imagination and I’d always intended to explore her story line. WYLT gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. It’s also given the chance to really explore Celtic themes (and in later books a few Arthurian) that I’ve always loved and wanted to write mash-ups of.

Music always plays a big role in my writing and helps give me a feel for the world in which I am playing in. I’ve released my WYLT playlist on Spotify for anyone who wants a soundtrack while they are reading the story. Its a pretty good mix of modern and classical (including a few waltzs that are mentioned in the novel) and is good at capturing many of my themes.

Pictures and art are also great at feeding my imagination for world building so I also have a massive Pinterest board that is covering all three of The Blood Lake Chronicles if you want to check it out.

My cover has been designed by the incredible Fiona Jayde who was extremely patient with my descriptions of what I was chasing.. ‘You know like old horror movies with the woman running away with a mansion in the background!’ She knew exactly what I wanted and has rendered it beautifully.

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WYLT is a mix of familiar and the new…there is a definite Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast vibe going on…but with enough new to keep it interesting.

To quote Rachel Hollis ‘You can pre-order the crap out of it‘ right here.

I hope you like it,

Love Amy and Duke (who does not understand Bookstagramming AT ALL.)

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Digital Abundance in Publishing isn’t killing Culture – It’s saving it

Note: This is an essay I wrote recently for my degree and even though it has a strong Australian Publishing focus I still thought I’d share.

‘Publishing finds itself in the midst of a “phase shift” from the scarcity model of print to a complex, new world of digital abundance,’ (Lichtenberg 2011) and it is this shift that not only has seen the birth of the eBook, but forced traditional publishing houses to readjust their business models and created an insurgence of self-published writers into the market.

This wealth of books is predominately due to the changes in book production technology itself ‘which has enabled digital publishing, distribution and retailing, and the introduction of hand- held digital reading platforms and devices’ (Zwar 2016) forcing a change in marketing, promotion and book store trade, but also creating new and innovative opportunities for Australian writers and stories.

Literary writer and critic Jonathan Franzen famously claimed in an interview with The Guardian that self-publishing ‘is decimating literary culture in favour of the “yakkers and tweeters and braggers”(Bury, 2013) but the impact of self-publishing and its ‘economic and cultural significance…means that it should, finally, be taken seriously by scholars’ (Baker 2015) and not simply dismissed as a mere ‘vanity.’

Dramatic change within the publishing industry is not new and despite the pessimism in the 2000s about the future of books, ‘global sales of books (including print and eBooks) remain strong’ (Throsby 2015).

The first eBook was made available in July 1971, and known as ‘eText #1 of Project Gutenberg, a visionary project launched by Michael Hart’ (Lebert 2009) in order to create electronic versions of literary works and make them available worldwide. With the internet born in 1974 and the release of the first browser Mosaic in 1993, the internet could now be used by anyone and authors, booksellers and publishers began ‘participating in heated debates on copyright issues and distribution control’(Lebert 2009). Although Project Gutenberg began the digital book process in the seventies, when thriller writer Peter James published his novel Host onto two floppy discs in 1993 he was ‘accused of killing the novel’ (Flood 2014) and ‘attacked as the harbinger of the apocalypse which would destroy literature’ (Flood 2014).

Despite the uproar, publishing had already started to became more mainstream in the mid-1990s with publishing disrupted first with photocopiers and digital printing accelerating book distribution, as well as print and digitised books beginning to be produced simultaneously. Books were suddenly easier to manufacture and distribute and ‘Australian publishers and printers were strongly encouraged to rethink their business’ (Carter and Galligan 2007) in order to take advantage and benefit from the new technologies.

In 1995 Amazon.com became the first online bookstore when it was launched by Jeff Bezos, creating a warehouse to consumer platform that changed how people buy books. Two years later leading bookseller Barnes and Noble created a new website to compete, publishing books through its own imprint for exclusive sale to boost trade, and other major book retailers soon followed. Digital reading devices were available as early as 1996 with Palm Pilots and smart phone reading apps as of 2001 with the Nokia 9210. When Amazon released the Kindle in 2007 it famously sold out worldwide in five and a half hours and the eBook became a new and ultra competitive publishing branch. This wrestle for eBook market domination came under legal fire when in 2014 Apple was charged with colluding with the Top 5 publishing houses to artificially raise the price of eBooks and was forced to repay 450 million dollars to their consumers.

Smaller online book sellers as well as ‘bricks and mortar’ stores suffered from the pricing wars of the larger booksellers with the ‘commercial and cultural effects felt worldwide’ (Carter and Galligan 2007). This internet trade market also created an issue with custom taxes and in 1997 the internet was ‘decided a free trade area…without any custom taxes for software, films and digital books bought online’ (Lebert 2009). International copy write and importation laws are still currently debated within Australia. The recent bid by the Productivity Commission to consent to parallel importation and reducing the copy write law to only fifteen years sent authors and publishers into an uproar.

Writers themselves embraced the internet and the ease with which they could publish and distribute their works through their own blogs and websites. In 2007 Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing concurrently with the Kindle device so that all publishers and writers could produce and sell to readers through their site. Worldwide platforms now include Ingram Spark, Smashwords and Lulu with accompanying Print on Demand imprints that allow readers to buy paperbacks of independent works.

‘Despite royalty rates of 70%, I think self-publishing is a terrible idea for serious novelists,’ claims literature writer Ros Barber (Guardian 2016) who is one of many who shares the misguided view that self-publishing is ‘seen as amateur, even as illegitimate’ (Baker 2015) when in fact self-publishing has a long history of our most beloved literature writers such as Charles Dickens, Walt Whiteman, Jane Austin and Marcel Proust forced to release their works on their own. Another criticism is that self published works aren’t edited to the same standard but traditional publishing does not necessarily guarantee quality, as there is ‘pressure to publish more books more quickly than ever’ (Opinionator, 2016) which results in errors like the famous continuity issues in the hugely successful The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (Harris, 2016).

A recent study undertaken by Macquarie University revealed that ‘one in five (19%) authors have self-published a print book or an eBook or both’ (Throsby 2015) in Australia in 2014 with genre fiction writers the most active in this field. Self-publishing has in many ways facilitated a way for writers to produce work freely without the restrictions of industry gatekeepers, and at least 59.4% of writers citing the reason behind their choice to self-publish was ‘to have creative and financial control of their work’ (Throsby 2015). With ‘65% of self-published writers being women’ (Baverstock 2013) it also has given an opportunity for glass ceilings to be broken and allowed new works to reach broader markets.

With so many additional writers being able to release their works, the market has grown abundantly with self-publishing representing ‘31 % of e-book sales on Amazon’s Kindle Store’ (Sargent 2014). This growth has allowed independent works to compete with traditional publishers but also has made discoverability more difficult. Self-published writers need to be marketers and self promoters as much as writers in order to reach their readers. Traditional publishing houses now expect their writers to engage in their own advertising as marketing budgets have shrunk and major publishers only focus the bulk of their promotion on their front list writers.

Writers must be proficient in ‘marketing, publicity, technology, and legal matters’ (Griffith University 2014) in addition to creating their original work. Self-published writers have embraced this as a part of publishing, while some traditionally published writers struggle with the idea of self-promotion as there is an expectation that the publishing house will market their work for them.

Despite criticism about ‘legitimacy’ self-publishing is growing with literature writers like Louise Walters experiencing the benefits when her publisher dropped her after her first book, and garnering the endorsement of the hugely successful, graphic novel trailblazer Alan Moore who recently stated that “most book publishers don’t want to take a risk on fiction” with his advice to instead “publish yourself. It’s become easier and easier”(The Digital Reader, 2016).

With new services such as Reedsey to assist in connecting writers to industry specialists such as designers and editors, self- publishing is moving through a new phase of professionalism with writers considering it a viable first option and not just as a ‘vain’ one after too many rejections from traditional houses.

Even lacking the obvious benefit of bigger marketing budgets and chain store distribution options like Big W and Dymocks, high quality self-published books have become a practical, legitimate part of the publishing industry that competes easily with traditional houses.

Australia is one of the world’s largest markets for books with an annual estimated turnover of $2.1 billion per year. The internet, TV and social media haven’t made books redundant but publishers are now aware that they have to find new ways to compete with these options in reader’s spare time.

Michelle Laforest from Harlequin Australia sees eBooks ‘as a format that gives publishers the opportunities to reach new markets in cost effective ways, and social media us giving tools to engage readers,’(Zwar 2016) and this attitude is reflected in the launch of Harlequin’s digital only imprint Escape Publishing in 2012.

In 2014 an overview by Nielsen BookScan reported an increase in Australia’s total book sales of 2.3% in volume and 2 % in value, mainly due to increased sales of children’s books. With Australia being one of the larger English speaking markets, authors are often networked in countries like the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand, giving them a larger international reach and income.

Presently, ‘approximately 33-36 percent of trade books sold in Australia are written by Australian authors according to industry estimates,’(Zwar 2016) but digital publishing is providing new opportunities for author’s to earn extra money through the publishing of their backlists and more daring projects.

In the academic fields, a digital marketplace provides opportunities for scholars to more easily share the wider findings of their research and engage new students. Traditional houses such as Momentum are taking on newer genres and more experimental works as well as Harlequin using their Escape imprint to take chances on a larger range of romance titles.

Opportunities in print are vastly smaller than its digital counterpart with traditional houses such as Allen and Unwin only selecting three different titles a year to do major promotional support, often beginning their campaigns a year in advance. Publishers often have difficulty convincing booksellers to buy in bulk, limiting the chances of sales on both sides if it is successful, with the majority of titles sold through large department stores such as Big W, who stock a wide range of genres for book buyers at discounted prices.

It is because of numerous logistics in traditional publishing such as higher costs in distribution, limited budgets and the change to the retail bookstore environment that make paperback publishing constrained and not as environmentally friendly, logistically sound or as profitable as digital.

The digital marketplace continues to provide opportunities for ‘scholarly publishers to participate in open access publishing – giving away content for free – while selling print format books’ (Zwar 2016) and for traditional fiction publishers releasing in an eBook means suffering less financial risk due to the minimised cost of producing digital works.

Digital publishing has no limitations when it comes to innovation with new technology constantly facilitating fresh ways of telling stories. Interactive books are now able to read and engage with children, unique apps are being perfected to help those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, as well eBooks being ‘sound tracked,’ through companies like Book Track or collaborated with bands such as Hugh Howie recently announcing his deal with Imagine Dragons to compose his Silo Series.

Despite the upheaval and general disarray in the industry claimed by traditional Australian publishing houses in the past five years, ‘40% of authors respond that there is no change, 15% are better off and 15% are worse off ’ (Zwar 2016). Taking into account ‘the average income derived from practising as an author is $12,900’ (Zwar 2016) and publishing houses offering smaller advances, there are few authors in Australia that can afford to write full time on the traditional structure. Digital publishing has facilitated new prospects for these writers to be published through digital imprints, such as Escape and Momentum, or to publish it themselves to find their audiences. Despite the remaining stigma ‘over one quarter of authors have self-published work,’ (Zwar 2016) in order to keep their older titles available and supplement their writing income.

The Australian Book Industry is served by a framework of publishers, agents, writer’s centres, writer support networks and various university degrees in creative and professional writing. With the Federal Government’s recent slashes to arts budgets ‘our culture is in crisis. It is a crisis cutting deep and hard across our whole nation, forcing us to confront some of the most basic questions we as a people could ask” (Sewell, 2016).  Digital and self –publishing, while creating abundance and upheaval, should no longer be viewed as an undesirable result of technology but an opportunity for modernisation in the Australian Market and as a way to preserve Australia’s culture of talented writers and strong, diverse voices.

 

Bibliography

Bury, L. (2013). Amazon model favours yakkers and braggers, says Jonathan Franzen. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/13/amazon-yakkers-braggers-jonathan-franzen [Accessed 23 Oct. 2016].

Lichtenberg, J. (2011). In from the Edge: The Progressive Evolution of Publishing in the Age of Digital Abundance. Publishing Research Quarterly, 27(2), pp.101-112.

Zwar, J. (2016) Disruption and innovation in the Australian book industry: Case studies of trade and education publishers. Macquarie Economics Research Papers. pp.1.  

Baker. D. (2015). Self-publishing matters – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. [online] Available at: http://theconversation.com/self-publishing-matters-dont-let-anyone-tell-you-otherwise-37986

Throsby,D (2015). Book authors and their changing circumstances: Survey method and results. Macquarie Economics Research Papers. pp.1.  

Lebert, M., 2009. A short history of ebooks. University of Toronto, 2009 p.p.6

Flood, A. (2014). Where did the story of ebooks begin?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/12/ebooks-begin-medium-reading-peter-james

Lebert, M., 2009. A short history of ebooks. University of Toronto, 2009 p.23

Carter, D. and Galligan, A. (2007). Making books. St. Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland Press.p152

Austlii.edu.au. (2016). COPYRIGHT ACT 1968. [online] Available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/

Zwar, J. (2016) Disruption and innovation in the Australian book industry: Case studies of trade and education publishers. Macquarie Economics Research Papers. pp.296.  

The Guardian. (2016). For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/mar/21/for-me-traditional-publishing-means-poverty-but-self-publish-no-way [Accessed 27 Oct. 2016].

Opinionator. (2016). The Price of Typos. [online] Available at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/the-price-of-typos/?_r=0 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2016].

Charlaine Harris. (2016). Charlaine Harris Frequently Asked Questions. [online] Available at: http://charlaineharris.com/?page_id=69 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2016].

Baverstock, A. and Steinitz, J. (2013), Who are the self-publishers?. Learned Publishing, 26: 211–223.

Sargent B. (2014). Surprising Self-Publishing Statistics. [online] Available at: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/63455-surprising-self-publishing-statistics.html/

Study Guide CWR320 Publishing in the Market Place 2014, School of Humanities, Griffith University, Brisbane pg 45

The Digital Reader. (2016). Alan Moore’s Advice to Authors: Self-Publish, Because “Publishing’s a Complete Mess” | The Digital Reader. [online]

Sewell, S. (2016). Friday essay: the arts and our still-born national identity. [online] The Conversation. Available at: http://theconversation.com/friday-essay-the-arts-and-our-still-born-national-identity-68434 [Accessed 20 Nov. 2016].

 

‘…stories change our behaviors by actually changing our brain chemistry.’

In his 1897 book What is Art? the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy defined art as “an infection.” Good art, Tolstoy wrote, infects the audience with the storyteller’s emotion and ideas. The better the art, the stronger the infection—the more stealthily it works around whatever immunities we possess and plants the virus. Tolstoy reached this conclusion through artistic intuition, not science, but more than a century after Tolstoy’s death this is exactly what psychologists are finding in the lab. When we enter into a story, we enter into an altered mental state—a state of high suggestibility.

Note that this goes against our culture’s dominant idea about stories. When I ask my students why people like stories, most cite escapism. Life is hard. Storyland is easy. Stories give us a short vacation from the troubles of our real lives. We enter the pretend worlds of stories and have a nice time, and then walk away unscathed and unchanged. But if we think this we are wrong. Studies show that our fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by our stories.

Keep Reading Jonathan Gottschall article here: https://www.fastcocreate.com/3020046/infecting-an-audience-why-great-stories-spread

Weirdness that Happens when writing about Exorcists

Today I sat down to write and do some additional research on a chapter of my new exorcist book only to find the man I was going to mention, the famous Catholic Exorcist Gabriele Amorth had died. I’ve had this chapter planned for weeks but still, it made me take a moments pause.

It also got me thinking of the spooky things that had happened on various movie sets over the years when exorcism is concerned. Like the deaths of two of the girls who appeared in the first Poltergeist movie, the claw marks found on Vera Farmiga’s computer after agreeing to act in The Conjuring and who can forget the tragic death of  Brandon Lee who was accidentally shot and killed on the set of The Crow. There are also countless stories about things that have happened on any production of The Scottish Play, Macbeth.

Does spookiness happen to writers when they are writing about the paranormal? Are there anecdotes out there about it? (If you have some please share).

I have to be honest watching too much Supernatural over the years makes me look at any flickering lights suspiciously so maybe I’m not the best one to judge.

I’ll have to keep a list of what happens as I write about intrepid freelance exorcist Jael Quinlan. So far it’s been more coincidental things like how many times I’ve used The Dead Sea Scrolls for research and completely failed to find the Songs of Exorcism until this morning.

Maybe it’s just the day for it.

Purging daily demons: what’s behind the popularity of exorcisms?

At the moment I am working on a new book about a Melbourne Exorcist and I’m being inundated by surprisingly current research on the matter. The following is an article written by Joseph P. Laycock , Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Texas State University has written for the fantastic news site The Conversation.

It goes into some of the history and the current issues surrounding this controversial topic. While it focusses primarily on Catholic and Christian tradition I’d love to know about exorcism rites in other cultures, so if any one has any recommended reading please comment or answer this thread on Twitter.

Purging daily demons: what’s behind the popularity of exorcisms? November 30, 2015 6.02am EST

An exorcism being performed in Fafe, Portugal. Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuter

At Texas State University, I teach an honors course called “Demonology, Possession, and Exorcism.” It’s not a gut course. My students produce research papers on topics that range from the role of sleep paralysis in reports of demonic attacks to contemporary murder cases in which defendants have claimed supernatural forces compelled them to commit crimes.

In fact, talk of demons isn’t unusual in Texas. The first day of class, when we watched a clip of an alleged exorcism at an Austin Starbucks, many of my students said that they’d seen similar scenes in the towns where they’d grown up.

In 2014, an exorcism took place outside of a Starbucks in Austin, Texas.

A few students even admitted their parents were nervous that they’d signed up for the class. Maybe these parents worried their kids would become possessed, or that studying possession in the classroom might make demons seem less plausible. (Perhaps it was a mix of both.)

Either way, these parents aren’t a superstitious minority: a poll conducted in 2012 found that 57% of Americans believe in demonic possession. Nonetheless, demons (invisible, malevolent spirits) and exorcism (the techniques used to cast these spirits out of people, objects or places) are often thought of as relics of the past, beliefs and practices that are incompatible with modernity. It’s an assumption based in a sociological theory that dates back to the 19th century called the secularization narrative. Scholars such as Max Weber predicted that over time, science would inevitably supersede belief in “mysterious forces.”

But while the influence of institutionalized churches has waned, few sociologists today would claim that science is eliminating belief in the supernatural. In fact, in the 40 years since the blockbuster film The Exorcist premiered, belief in the demonic remains as popular as ever, with many churches scrambling to adapt.

Exorcism’s golden age

So why has exorcism made a comeback? It may be that belief in the demonic is cyclical.

Historian of religion David Frankfurter notes that conspiracy theories involving evil entities like demons and witches tend to flare up when local religious communities are confronted with outside forces such as globalization and modernity.

Attributing misfortune and social change to hidden evil forces, Frankfurter suggests, is a natural human reaction; the demonic provides a context that can make sense of unfamiliar or complex problems.

While Europeans practiced exorcism during the Middle Ages, the “golden age” of demonic paranoia took place in the early modern period. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands were killed in witch hunts and there were spectacular cases of possession, including entire convents of nuns.

A 1788 painting by Francisco Goya depicts Saint Francis performing an exorcism. Wikimedia Commons

The Protestant Reformation was a key contributor to these events. The resulting wars of religion devastated Europe’s population, creating a sense of apocalyptic anxiety. At the same time, exorcism became a way for the Catholic Church, and even some Protestant denominations, to demonstrate that their clergy wielded supernatural power over demons – something that their rivals lacked. In some cases, possessed people would even testify that rival churches were aligned with Satan.

But by the 19th century, medical experts such as Jean-Martin Charcot and his student Sigmund Freud had popularized the idea that the symptoms of demonic possession were actually caused by hysteria and neurosis. Exorcists came to be seen as unsophisticated people who lacked the education to understand mental illness – a view that made exorcism a liability for churches instead of an asset. This was especially true for American Catholics, who had long been disparaged by the Protestant majority as superstitious immigrants.

The Exorcist effect

By the time William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist was published in 1971, the secularization narrative had gone mainstream. In 1966, Time magazine had run its famous cover asking “Is God Dead?” In 1970, Gallup found that 75% of Americans claimed religion was losing influence – the highest percentage in the history of the poll, which was first conducted in 1957.

The April 6, 1966 issue of Time Magazine. Time

Blatty’s protagonist, Damien Karras, is a Jesuit psychiatrist-priest who has lost his faith. At the end of novel, Karras lies dying from his battle with the demon Pazuzu. He cannot speak, but his eyes are “filled with elation” – presumably because he now has positive proof that demons and, by extension, God, actually exist. Through the character of Father Karras, Blatty captured a widespread feeling of longing for the supernatural in a disenchanted age.

While the Jesuit-run magazine America panned The Exorcist as “sordid and sensationalistic,” Blatty proved that Americans were not dismissive of the idea of exorcism. In 1971 and 1972, the novel spent 55 weeks on The New York Times bestseller lists. The film adaptation grossed over US$66 million in its first year. In 1990, as part of homily given in New York City’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal John O’Connor even read from The Exorcist in order “to dramatize the reality of demonic power.”

A demonic renaissance

Today a significant segment of the population reports belief in demons.

According to a 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, 48% of Americans agreed or strongly agreed in the possibility of demonic possession. And in a Pew Research Survey conducted that same year, 68% of Americans said they believe in the presence of angels and demons.

While the surveys can’t reveal what exactly people mean when they say they “believe in demons,” it’s clear that these people don’t constitute a superstitious minority. Rather, they’re a normal part of today’s religious landscape.

People have historically used evil spirits to explain any number of misfortunes, whether its a physical illness or routine bad luck. But today, demons are frequently used to interpret contemporary political issues, such as abortion and gay rights. Since the 1970s, Protestant deliverance ministries have offered to “cure” gay teenagers by casting out demons. This practice now has corollaries in Islam – and even in Chinese holistic healing methods. When the state of Illinois legalized gay marriage in 2013, Bishop Thomas Paprocki held a public exorcism in protest. Politically, the bishop’s ritual served to frame changing social mores as a manifestation of demonic evil.

Similarly, Catholic exorcists in Mexico held a “magno exorcisto” in May 2015 aimed at purging the entire nation of demons. The mass exorcism was partly motivated by the drug wars that have devastated the country since 2006. But it was also in response to the legalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007.

During one Mexican exorcism, a demon (speaking through a possessed person) confessed that Mexico had once been a haven for demons. According to the four demons identified in the exorcism, hundreds of years ago, Aztecs had offered them human sacrifices; now, with the legalization of abortion, the sacrifices had resumed.

Divided over demons

In the Baylor Religion Survey, 53% of Catholics said they either agree or strongly agree in the possibility of demonic possession. Twenty-six percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, and the rest were undecided. Progressive Catholics still regard exorcism as an embarrassment, and there are also increasingly vocal atheists and skeptics eager to cite the practice of exorcism as an example of the absurdity of religion. But in countries like Italy and the Philippines, there is active demand for more Catholic exorcists.

Pope Francis blesses a boy in Rome. Tony Gentile/Reuters

Church authorities are keenly aware that if they do not provide the spiritual services these people need, Pentecostal deliverance ministries will. In the past, the Church had much more ability to tailor its message to its audience. But in an age of Twitter and cellphone cameras, an exorcism performed in one country will be witnessed by the entire world.

Pope Francis seems especially skillful at navigating the question of demons. While he has inspired progressive Catholics with his stances on climate change and social justice, he has also emphasized the reality of the devil. In 2014, the Congregation of Clergy formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists. This is a group of conservative priests that has existed outside the Curia since 1990, and has lobbied for recognizing and normalizing the practice of exorcism. Founding IAE member Gabriele Amorth has even attributed the group’s sudden success to Pope Francis.

Perhaps the greatest example of Francis’s demonological savvy occurred on May 13 2013, when he placed his hands on a young man in a wheelchair after celebrating mass in St Peter’s Square. (This young man was, in fact, the same Mexican parishioner believed to be possessed by four demons.) Video shows the boy heaving and slumping forward under Francis’s unusually long embrace.

To those who feel the Catholic Church ought to take exorcism seriously, this was a clear example of Francis performing a public exorcism. But to those who regard exorcism as a relic of the Dark Ages, Church authorities can plausibly claim that this was only a blessing, perhaps lasting just a little longer, due to the pontiff’s sincere compassion for the young man.

For a church with over a billion followers, it’s a tough – but necessary – balancing act.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Story- Women in Men’s Waistcoats

Hi Everyone

Yes , I know its been ages since a free story! But the good news is that today’s story is a rather long one to make up for it.

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Women in Men’s Waistcoats was originally written for an anthology called Blood Sucking by Lamp Light. I wrote it during the worst Christmas of my life and it’s because of it that no one was killed off that year (so close). Unfortunately the publisher never went to press and disappeared over night.

I wanted to write a vampire steampunk story based in an alternate Sydney ( or New Albion as it was originally called) in the 1800’s and tie in some random vikingness at the same time.

Find it here: Women in Mens Waist Coats

p.s. Firebird shaped Announcements coming soon so keep an eye out!