What is Fanfic?

What is fanfic?  Is it a crime to write it?  Is it a sin?

There’s a lot of misunderstandings about fanfiction (aka fan fiction, fanfic), especially since ‘netfic became more popular than fanzines.  (Don’t worry.  All terms will be explained presently.)  Fanfic is generally defined as writing stories based on TV shows or movies, without the permission of the copyright holders.

Stephen Downes defines fanfiction as “any work which embellishes, alters or rewrites the work of another (usually a published author) with new storylines, characters, alternative endings, beginnings and substitute sets of morals, ideals or sexual politics.”

The Urban Dictionary says “fanfiction is when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, tv show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it. Sometimes people will take characters from one movie and put them in another, which is called a crossover. ”

Wikipedia says “Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan ficfanfic or fic) is fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator. It is a popular form of fan labor, particularly since the advent of the Internet.”

Please note the last seven words of the paragraph above.  Fanfic predates the Internet.  Many people are under the misapprehension that the Internet created fanfic.  The Internet simply made fanfic cheaper and more accessible.

Once upon a time, there was a TV show called Star Trek.  (You may have heard of it.)  Some fans felt three seasons wasn’t enough, so just as Tom Sawyer played Robin Hood and King Arthur with his friends, they played Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura and Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel and Scotty.  Only instead of going outside to play make believe, these fans wrote down their stories.  Some were good.  Some were dreadful.  Some were eventually professionally published (often with the names and serial numbers filed off).  Many of these writers wanted to do things that the censors wouldn’t let NBC do at the time:  “adult” stories, what-if stories, crossovers, deathfic.

Examples:

  • What if Spock went into pon farr and Kirk was the only other person there?
  • What if Spock and Kirk were stuck in the 1930s with Edith Keeler?
  • What if the Enterprise found Captain Buck Rogers’ capsule and thawed him out?
  • What if the Enterprise went forward in time and was trapped in the Planet of the Apes future?
  • What if Kirk were never rescued in “The Paradise Syndrome” and Spock became captain of the Enterprise?
  • What if Spock really killed Kirk in “Amok Time”?
  • What if the Enterprise met the Battlestar Galactica and its ragtag fugitive fleet?

These stories were printed in homemade magazines called fanzines (fan magazines).  The fans didn’t invent fanzines — they were already around, but more for discussing SF and fantasy than writing stories based on other people’s characters.  But with mimeograph machines in their parents’ garages, these fannish authors abducted the term fanzine and refused to give it back.  Eventually, printing methods improved.  Photocopying costs came down.  (Oddly, photocopying costs were much lower on the West Coast than the East Coast, which affected the price of ‘zines.)  Kinko’s made editors’ lives easier.

Once writers get in the habit of writing, they don’t stop.  Fans of one show seldom like just that show, they become fans of other shows.  Star Trek fanzines and letterzines started having material from other shows and movies.  Eventually, those shows and movies started having their own ‘zines.  There were genzines.  There were multimedia ‘zines.  Under the table and in a whisper, there were slash ‘zines and het ‘zines.

It was a glorious time for fanfic authors and readers.


Vocabulary:

AO3:  Archive of our Own (archiveofourown.org), a popular ‘netfic site that has quite a few “adult” stories, theoretically by invitation only, but it’s easy to get invited.

AU:  alternative universe, a what-if such as what if your favorite Harry Potter character that J. K. Rowling killed off lived, what if the Pevensie children stayed in Narnia, what if Leia Organa had been trained since childhood as a Jedi knight

canon:  what happened in the original material

crack or crackfic:  a very silly story, not meant to be taken seriously

crossover:  a story that combines the characters from two or more fandoms, such as Batman meeting Jessica Fletcher or Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory and Dr. Spemcer Reid of Criminal Minds collaborating on a physics project together/

crunching:  The Mills Brothers sang “you always hurt the one you love.”  Crunching is showing how much you love a favorite character by writing a story where he is physically and/or emotionally hurt.

deathfic:  a story that features the death of a major character

fanfic or fanfiction:  an amateur story written by a fan, based on characters and situations created by someone else (usually a TV show or movie, sometimes a book or series of books)

FanFiction.Net:  one of the more popular fanfic websites, sometimes referred to as the Pit of Voles because it obeys Sturgeon’s Law.  Proofreading is regrettably rare.

fanon:  something that happens so much in fanfic that it is accepted by other writers as semi-canonical

fanzine or ‘zine:  a homemade magazine containing fanfic stories, poems, artwork, etc.

genzine:  a fanzine that has stories rated G to PG-13, with limited sex in the stories

het:  R or X rated stories focusing on male characters with female characters

hurt/comfort or h/c:  a story where character A is badly hurt, so that character B can comfort and console him

letterzine:  a homemade magazine with little or no fiction, with the emphasis on letters between fans discussing and debating their favorite shows

Mary Sue:  a character who is beautiful, intelligent, has multiple skills, is often of royal or noble birth, frequently has psi-powers, a born leader, and whom the hero falls head-over-heels in love with; very common in beginning writer’s stories as they attempt to have a character who is good enough to keep up with the canon cast, and winds up outdoing them in every category.

multimedia:  a fanzine that has stories from multiple fandoms

‘netfic:  fanfic that originates on the Internet, instead of being published in a ‘zine first

slash:  stories of any rating focusing on romantic relationships between two characters of the same gender, especially if they were heterosexual in canon, ie, Ellison/Sandburg, Kirk/Spock, Solo/Kuryakin, etc.


Then came ‘netfic.  Now, ‘netfic is not inherently bad, just as ‘zines are not always good.  But ‘netfic has a tendency to jump from writer’s brain to keyboard to posted on-line, without stopping for a breath in between.  This is especially true of the younger writers.  Paula Smith had this to say of the difference in the writing process between ‘zines and ‘netfic:

In writing, there is a crucial step of rewrite which is not regularly being seen these days. This is one difference we noticed in the late 1990s with fans coming in from the Internet. In the old days, I would write the first draft of a story in longhand, type it up, read it again, fuss with it, type it up again. And then the editor would read it, recommend changes, and you would have to type the whole bloody thing up yet again. The stories went through the typewriter more than once, and a lot was changed slowly but crucially. I’ve noticed the difference in my own writing. Now, you write something, put it aside, write something, put it aside, and then jam it all together.  {Paula Smith}

On the one hand, ‘netfic is free.  (Due to printing costs, ‘zines can be as expensive as hardcover books.)  The feedback is almost instantaneous.  On the other hand, GIGO.  Since no editor looks over the story before it’s posted, typos abound in ‘netfic.  Typos aren’t unknown in fanzines, of course, but authors and editors at least try to catch and correct them.  As Paula Smith said, “Another difference is the level of literacy of people coming to it—and the level of entitlement about their level of literacy: “Well, I don’t care if this is misspelled because that’s how I want it to be.” I may sound a bit snotty, but heck, I’ve seen typos completely wreck the point of a story.”


Is fanfic a sin?  Is it a crime?

Most people say that fanfic violates copyright.  This is why is must be done on an amateur basis, and fanzine editors and publishers can only charge enough to get their printing and mailing costs back.  They cannot make a profit.

However, there’s the Fair Use argument.

Like every other potentially infringing thing we do on the Internet every day, from reblogging a photo on Tumblr to uploading a song cover to YouTube, in the U.S. fanfiction writers are protected by a magical thing called the Fair Use clause. The Fair Use clause states that if use of someone else’s work is “fair,” it’s OK. Traditionally, “fair” has usually been granted to purposes of education or commentary, but this is also the clause that allows and protects parody. (By Gavia Baker-Whitelaw AND Aja Romano )

Many “real” authors got their start in fanfic  Mercedes Lackey, Jean Lorrah, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Lois McMaster Bujold, Rosemary Edghill, Jean Graham.  Dr. Lorrah uses the supporting characters she developed in her Star Trek fanfic stories in her professionally published by Pocket Books Star Trek novels.  (I don’t know whether Pocket Books is aware of this.)  Take a close look at Bujold’s Hugo-winning Miles Vorkosigan series.  If you squint, you can see the roots of a Klingon admiral in Aral Vorkosigan and a Starfleet officer in Cordelia Naismith.  Rosemary Edghill’s Hellflower trilogy started life as Star Wars fanfic, with Butterfly St. Cyr as a business rival to Han Solo.  I’ve seen a series of romance novels where the heroes were very clearly based on the men of TV’s Magnificent Seven, although again, I’m not sure if the publisher was aware of that.

If you are willing to risk the legal issues, fanfic is a good way for writers to practice.  Since the settings and characters already exist, the writer can concentrate on plot, description, etc.  Fanfic does not require a plot; many fans see nothing wrong with a vignette that is just character development.

And then there’s the success story many fanfic readers and writers are both proud of and embarrassed by:  Fifty Shades of Gray.  It started life as Twilight fanfic.  People are pleased (and jealous) that one of their own made it to the big time.  They’re embarrassed because it’s so dreadful.  But then, so was Twilight, IMHO.

“Author Orson Scott Card (best known for the Enders Game series) once stated on his website, “to write fiction using my characters is morally identical to moving into my house without invitation and throwing out my family.” He changed his mind completely and since has assisted fan fiction contests, arguing to the Wall Street Journal that Every piece of fan fiction is an ad for my book. What kind of idiot would I be to want that to disappear?’ “(Wikipedia)

The inimitable but oft-imitated J. K. Rowling says she’s flattered by fanfic set in the Harry Potter universe.  (Which is a good thing, because there are over 776,000 HP stories at FanFiction.net and 154,267 HP stories at AO3.)  Shannon Hale admits she still writes fanfic on occasion.  Raymond Feist, Anne Rice, and George R. R. Martin are opposed to fanfic and have requested their fans not write any based on their novels.

I think fanfic is A, harmless fun, and B, good writing practice.  My opinion may change when other people start writing stories about my characters without permission.  As the saying goes, YMMV;  your mileage may vary.  What’s your opinion on fanfic?

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Beta Reading, Proofreading, Copy Editing: What’s The Difference?

I am a freelance proofreader and copy editor.  What’s the difference between beta reading, proofreading, copy editing, line editing, etc.?

Beta readers are the second readers of a story after the author.  Beta readers are never paid.  They’re friends doing a favor, or members of a writing group trading for you beta reading their work.  Beta readers vary considerably in their skills and focus:  some will check for SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation, And Grammar) errors.  In fanfic, some will check for consistency to canon.  Others will point out plot holes.

Proofreaders and copy editors are paid professionals (although you could get a friend to do it for you as a favor, if you have friends with the right skill set).

The copy editor goes before the proofreader.  If the material is an article for a magazine or newspaper, the copy editor makes sure it fits the house style in addition to finding and correcting errors.

Copyediting is the process of checking for mistakes, inconsistencies, and repetition. During this process, your manuscript is polished for publication.  Contrary to popular belief, the copyeditor is not a glorified spell checker.  The copyeditor is your partner in publication. He or she makes sure that your manuscript tells the best story possible. The copyeditor focuses on both the small details and the big picture. He or she must be meticulous and highly technical, while still aware of the overarching themes at work within your manuscript.

Proofreading, on the other hand, is the last step before printing.

The proofreader’s job is to check for quality before the book goes into mass production. He or she takes the original edited copy and compares it to the proof, making sure that there are no omissions or missing pages. The proofreader corrects awkward word or page breaks.  While he or she may do light editing (such as correcting inconsistent spelling or hyphenations), the professional proofreader is not a copyeditor. If too many errors are cited, he or she may return the proof for further copyediting.

Copyediting vs. copy editing is like gray vs. grey or judgement vs. judgment.  Either spelling is permitted.

I do not offer line editing at this time.

line edit addresses the creative content, writing style, and language use at the sentence and paragraph level. But the purpose of a line edit is not to comb your manuscript for errors – rather, a line edit focuses on the way you use language to communicate your story to the reader. Is your language clear, fluid, and pleasurable to read? Does it convey a sense of atmosphere, emotion, and tone? Do the words you’ve chosen convey a precise meaning, or are you using broad generalizations and clichés?

There are also developmental editors.  I am not a developmental editor.

Developmental editors (DEs) are concerned with the structure and con­tent of your book. If your manuscript lacks focus, your DE will help you find the right direction—the “right” direction generally being the most marketable.  Development editing is also where problems of inconsistent tone or an unclear audience often surface. Developmental editors perform many of the same editing tasks as an acquisitions editor, but unlike AEs, whose time is split between editing and the business side of pub­lishing, DEs can often give you more personal attention.

Elizabeth Donald, a horror writer and a journalist, offers a critique service that covers all these variations of editorial assistance.

  1. Level 1, overall critique.  Recommendation on sales possibilities, suggestions for the work that needs to be done.  Very basic critique, does not include mechanics or line edit.
  2. Level 2, mechanics critique.  Grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting.
  3. Level 3, mid-level critique. Word choice, language, sense of flow, as well as grammar, punctuation, spelling, manuscript format.
  4. Level 4, full critique.  Plot structure, characterization, originality, and theme evaluation, as well as word choice, language, sense of flow, grammar, punctuation, spelling, manuscript format. Includes a recommendation on sales possibilities, with at least three suggested markets.

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For basic copy editing, I charge $25 an hour, at an estimated pace of 5-10 manuscript pages per hour.  For proofreading, I charge $20, at an estimated pace of 10-15 manuscript pages per hour.  For ghostwriting blogs, I charge $10 a page.  If you think I can help you improve your manuscript, hire me.

 

 

Bio Hazard ( a guest blog)

The B Cubed Press stable of writers were just discussing what should or shouldn’t go in an author’s bio. I think Demi Hungerford, the author of The Viscount’s Mouse (which I proofread), does a good job answering that question.

A Novel Approach

Have you ever been hit with the reality that as a writer, your fans want to know you? Yikes! Do you want to tell all to these readers? Do they need to know your mom collects Russian language books? Just how much do you need to say in a book bio?

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My First Story Sale (a guest blog by Melinda LaFevers)

This is by singer/storyteller/historical re-enactor/writer Melinda LaFevers. She is the letter S (for storyteller) in my children’s book, R is for Renaissance Faire. She is also going to be my co-anthologist in More Alternative Truths, and she assisted with the musical arrangement of the filk song I co-wrote with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, “Donald, Where’s Your Taxes?” Thank you for being a guest blogger, Melinda.

Melinda's obscure thoughts...

For those who are unaware, I am a writer.  Now, I don’t just mean the occasional blog that I post (and I really need to post more often)

No, I mean I actually write fiction and non-fiction, and when I’m fortunate and blessed, I actually am able to sell them.  I have been writing poetry, songs, and music for decades, mostly for myself.

But a few years ago, I was inspired to write a story and offer it for sale.  It happened like this…

I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is a historical recreation group that studies the renaissance and middle ages.  They hold a large event in Mississippi in March called Gulf Wars – and by large, I mean 4-5000 people or more.  Also held in March, in Memphis, is a science fiction convention called MidSouthCon.  Usually there would be a fairly large contingent…

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32 Tales of Heroic Fantasy

Yesterday I received my contributor’s copies of Heroic Fantasy Short Stories, from Flame Tree Publishing.  It’s a handsome book, with 32 stories of adventure, tales of knights and kings, of wizards and warriors, of golems and gladiators.

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The book sells for $30 in the USA, or £20 in the UK.  It’s part of Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, and I’m very pleased to be in it.

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My story, “Erzabet and the Gladiators,” is the sixth story in the book, after Zach Chapman’s “Dragon and Wolf” and before John Buchan‘s “The Far Islands.”  Flame Tree Publishing describes it as an anthology of new and classic tales.

Of the sixteen new stories, all but four are debuting in this volume.  Authors from the United States, Canada, and South Africa have submitted their tales of adventure to be printed alongside classic authors such as Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Tweedsmuir, Snorri Sturluson, A. Merritt, Geoffrey Chaucer, Andrew Lang, Howard Pyle, William Morris, E. R. Eddison, Robert E. Howard, and some “Greek chappie” named Homer.  One story, “A Matter of Interpretation,” is M. Elizabeth Ticknor‘s first professional sale.

Dr. Philippa Semper, a professor at the University of Birmingham (the one in the UK that Tim Curry and Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin attended, not the one in Alabama) wrote the foreward.

“These ancient and medieval heroes, however, rarely live ‘happily ever after.’  A hero is a risk-seeker, living right on the edge of endurance, a sacrifice-in-waiting.”

As I said back in May, I am delighted to have a story in Heroic Fantasy Short Stories.  I used the author’s biography to advertise for Alternative Truths and Krypton Radio.  

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“Erzabet and the Gladiators” is technically the first chapter of my fantasy novel Escape from Jandarra (working title), so I’d better stop committing bloggery and get back to work and finish my novel.

Heroic Fantasy Short Stories may be ordered through Amazon or directly from Flame Tree Publishing.

Copy Editor for Hire

ANNOUNCEMENT

I earned the Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing yesterday from Poynter News University and American Copy Editors Society (ACES).   I am a member of ACES and a guest member of Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).  Would you like to hire me to polish your prose?

I consider myself competent to offer both proofreading and basic copy editing services.  What’s the difference?  Proofreading is looking for SPAG errors (spelling, punctuation, and grammar).  It’s typically done when a story or article is nearly ready for publication.  Copy editing includes finding and correcting SPAG errors, but also checking for jargon, wordiness, awkward transitions, a character who changes the spelling of her name from chapter three to chapter seven, and making sure that the article fits the preferred style of the intended publication.   For an excellent explanation of copy editing vs. proofreading, I recommend this article. 

ACES Certificate

RATES

For basic copy editing, I charge $25 an hour, at an estimated pace of 5-10 manuscript pages per hour.

For proofreading, I charge $20, at an estimated pace of 10-15 manuscript pages per hour.

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, the industry standard for a manuscript page is a firm 250 words.

[I do not do heavy copy editing, line editing, or website copy editing at this time.]

For ghostwriting blogs, I charge $10 for the first 250 words, $20 for a 251-500 word article, $30 for 501-750 words, etc.

For assisting an author to format their story into standard manuscript format, my rates are negotiable depending on the length of the story and whether or not I am also copy editing that story.  E-mail me to discuss it in private.

These prices are lower than the EFA suggested industry rates because the ink is barely dry on my certificate.  My prices will be rising to editorial standards once I am no longer a novice, so take advantage of these low rates now.  They won’t last more than a year.

TESTIMONIALS

“I have just gone through and implemented your recommendations, following your advice in all but the very fewest instances — the ones where you said I could get away with it as a matter of personal style. You have a magnificent eye for the errant typo, and your suggestions regarding grammar were spot-on in every instance.  You definitely spotted many places where I *thought* I knew the correct spelling…but didn’t! Dalmatian and monocle and others! As Mark Twain said — I’m sure you know the quote — “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  Thank you again and again and again! You are my hero, and I cannot thank you properly!”  Jefferson P. Swycaffer, author of Warsprite, Web of Futures, and the Concordat of Archive series.

Silver Crusade Cover

“Thank you so much! And you are a great proofreader! :-)”  Vera Nazarian, author of the Atlantis Grail series, Mansfield Park and Mummies, and Dreams of the Compass Rose.

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Susan Murrie Macdonald:  author, freelance journalist, blogger, ghostwriter, and freelance copy editor and proofreader

Susan Murrie with her children's  book

§  “Erzabet and the Gladiators,” Heroic Fantasy,  published by Flame Tree Publishing, July 2017

§ “Freckles and Long Neck,” Bumples issue #43,  published by Bumples.com, June 2017

§  “As Prophesied of Old,” Alternative Truths, published by B Cubed Press, April 2017

§  “Captain’s Claim,” published by eSpec Books, October, 2016

§  R is for Renaissance Faire, published by Highland Heather Press, May, 201

§  Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid, published by Highland Heather Press, Jan. 2016

§  “The Piper’s Wife,” Sword & Sorceress #30, published by MZB Literary Trust, Nov. 2015

§  “Two Princes” and “Vixen’s Song,” Barbarian Crowns, published by Horrified Press, July 2015

§  “Thank You, Thad,” Supernatural Colorado, published by WolfSinger Publications, Jan. 2015

Borrowed from https://virginiaplantation.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-fashions-of-regency-england-1795-1837/

Regency Romances, Regency Marriages

I’ve been researching the customs regarding romance, courtship, and marriage in Regency England.  Many authors in assorted genres, like SF/F author Rosemary Edghill and mystery novelist Carola Dunn, began their career by writing Regency romances.  I am attempting to do likewise.  After all, I’ve been reading Regencies since before the Bicentennial (yes, I’m dating myself) and I’ve started more than a dozen, although I’ve yet to get beyond chapter two in any of them.

Regency Fashion - 1820 to 1850 Now that I’ve made a few sales in short fiction, I am attempting to write a novel.  Since I’ve read more Regency romances than I can count, that genre seemed a good arena to hone my skills before turning my attention to science fiction and fantasy.  Yes, it’s bubblegum literature, but sometimes you’re in the mood for bubblegum.

When one thinks of Regency romances, one thinks of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Clare Darcy, Allison Lane, Barbara Cartland, etc.  One thinks of beautiful gowns and the noble-born ladies wearing them at grand balls.  One thinks of gentlemen who follow Beau Brummell’s lead in fashion, although probably more athletic — a good Regency hero should be a Corinthian.  And sometimes, one thinks of badly written novels with little or no research done.  Rosemary Edghill tells how she was inspired to write her first Regency romance, after reading a book where a Regency heroine took a train to Malta.  Stop and think about that a moment.

I was reading a book ‑- which happened, as these things do, to be a Regency novel ‑- and not thinking at all about becoming a writer. At the time I was doing production and design at a New York graphic arts studio, a location which later found its way as background into some of my books, so I figured all my artistic impulses were pretty well taken care of, as well as a steady paycheck. But as I was reading along I encountered a passage in which the heroine took a train from London to Malta ‑- the island of Malta, you understand, an island surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea without a single bridge leading to it ‑- in 1805, several decades before the invention of the passenger train, ignoring all the rules of both history and geography ‑- and the Writing Fairy landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear: you can do better than that.

Just as Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired to write Treasure Island because he was disappointed in the books his stepson read, so Rosemary Edghill was inspired to write Turkish Delight.  There’s probably an essay’s worth of material from writers who read something subpar, said I can do better than this, and began literary careers.

In researching how to avoid being compromised (a major plot point in both Lady Tom and Damaris in Distress), I have found some fascinating websites.

Courtship and Marriage {Isabelle Goddard}

Regency Reader {multiple authors}

Marriage in the Regency Era {Sharon Lathan}

Courting and Marriage in the Regency {Cheryl Bolen}

A Survivor’s Guide to Georgian Marriage {Ellie Cawthorne}

Ten Tropes That Make Historical Romance Awesome {G. Callen, C. Linden, L. Guhrke}


My current WIP is a fantasy story set in 1923, which I hope to submit to the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Contest if I can finish it by their deadline.  After that, I’d like to get back to Regencies.  If/when I manage to get either Lady Tom or Damaris in Distress finished, I’ll let you know in a future blog post.  Or Cherished Companion, or The Thistle and the Orchid, or Shilling Suitors, or Maid Marian’s Return, or Marguerite, or Cousin Lavinia or ….  (Did I mention I’d started more than a dozen Regency romance novels?)

10 Things I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Blogging

Richard Flores is a Facebook Friend and a fellow author. Here are some of his thoughts on blogging. (Warning: Richard cusses a bit.)

Flores Factor Blog

Today, according to WordPress, is my 7th anniversary of blog writing (nearly 6 with this blog).  I started this blog because I got my first story sale with my short story Death Watch, which was published by the good folks over at Liquid Imagination.  Originally my blog was my website, and though I have since separated the two, a lot of people still find me through this blog.

When I started out, I really didn’t know what to expect.  And seven years later, I still really don’t know what could happen.  But here are at a few things I have learned since starting out.

1 – Getting traffic to your blog is hard.

It took me a long time, a really long time, to gather up any type of blog traffic.  I tried funny posts, writing posts, life posts, and mixtures of all three.  What I learned is the…

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$451

When editor Bob Brown first came up with the idea for Alternative Truths, he decided that one share of the royalties would be paid to the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) for three years.  At the end of three years, all royalties would go to the ACLU.  Everyone involved with the project agreed to this.

Bob recently sent out the first royalty checks from Alternative Truths.  Because some of the authors agreed to donate their share to the ACLU, over and above what they were getting already, the ACLU got more than any author, illustrator, or editor.  Bob wrote the following press release.

On July 6, 2017 three representatives of B Cubed Press, Karen Anderson, Blaze Ward, and Janka Hobbs presented the first of many checks to the American Civil Liberty Union of Washington.

The money is part of a commitment to set aside a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Alternative Truths, an anthology that looks at the America that might be if the current political path continues unabated.

On hand to receive the check was Caitlin Lombardi, Community Relations Director at the ACLU of Washington.

Should you have any questions or desire a review copy of the book, please contact Bob Brown, owner of B Cubed Press, at Kionadad@aol.com.

Alternate Truths check for ACLU

Left to right, Karen Anderson, Caitlin Lombardi, Blaze Ward, Janka Hobbs

The following text accompanied the donation.

In 1953, a nation was reeling from the unapologetic assault on free speech from the likes of Joseph McCarthy.  In answer came the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It is in this dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn what books are reported, that we saw reflections of evil.

It was this world that we, who grew up in an America where freedom of the Press was sacred and the idea of burning books brought visions of storm troopers, could fear, but never imagine.

But oh, what changes a lifetime brings.  Ray Bradbury has left us and we live now in a world never envisioned as possible, where the President and his supporters regularly assault free speech and seek to limit the constitutionally mandated freedom of the press.  Where he stands at the podium and denounces the freedoms many of us served at home and abroad to protect.

We said NO!

We did what we could do in opposition to tyranny.

We wrote in the spirit of Thomas Paine.  In the spirit of free speech, we wrote.  And so was born Alternative Truths.

When we collectively decided to set aside a generous portion of the proceeds to the ACLU, we had no idea of the symbolic nature of the amount.  But today we presented the representatives of this staunch defender of our freedoms with the first installment of $451.  A symbolic number if ever there was one.

We made this decision jointly and freely because without the ACLU, it could be books like ours piled in the public square awaiting the match.

Without the ACLU, we could find that the freedom to express our views suppressed and denied.

So in the memory of Ray Bradbury, we stand against the stigma of the modern versions of McCarthy and those that would silence.  And we will continue to stand.

Thanks goes out to each and every writer, editor, and artist involved in B Cubed and Alternative Truths as we stand united in the name of Freedom.  True freedom that comes from making your ideas known, of speaking truth to power, and the ability to do so openly.

And as the ACLU has been in the forefront of the fight for, among other things, freedom of expression for nearly a century, we who are listed below support them as we freely express ourselves in fiction to the current crisis in American life.

Adam-Troy Castro

Alexander James Adams

Blaze Ward

Vonda McIntyre

Bob Brown

Bruno Lombardi

Cheyenne Summer Brown

Daniel M. Kimmel

David Steele

Diana Hauer

Vonda McIntyre

Gregg Chamberlain

Irene Radford

Janka Hobbs

Jim Wright

Joel Ewy

Karen G. Anderson

Ken Staley

Larry Hodges

Liam Hogan

Louse Marley

Marleen S. Barr

Paula Hammond

Rebecca McFarland Kyle

Rick Dunham

Sara Codair 

Susan Murrie Macdonald

Victor D Phillips

Wondra Vanian                                                                                             

Bobby Lee Featherston

Susan Omberg-Carro

 

(Caitlin Lombardi of the ACLU is no relation to Canadian author Bruno Lombardi.)

I’ve sold seven short stories now, and self-published a children’s book and an e-book.  However, Alternative Truths  is the first time I’ve earned royalties.  I have one teenager starting college in just over a month and another one planning to go to college in a few years, so I’d like to earn more royalties.  Buy Alternative Truths, $4.99 as an e-book, $11 as a paperback.

 

A Review of “Alternative Truths,” a Guest Blog by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is a Nebula winning science fiction/fantasy writer and editor  She recently read and reviewed Alternative Truths, the political satire anthology from B Cubed Press, and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her review as a guest blog.

E. A. Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

In The Wind Between the Worlds, Robert Ford, an RAF radio operator unfortunate enough to be helping the Tibetan government set up radio links between the settlements when the Chinese invaded described his treatment as a prisoner. His captors softened him up with sleep deprivation and starvation, and with sessions of yelling at him that what he believed was lies and what he thought was wrong was true. They kept repeating the lies they wanted him to believe, substituting them for any real news until he was confused about what was true and what was not. By the end of his stay, following his “confession,” he was convinced that his enemies were his friends and vice versa. He said that it took him years after his release to sort out his own concept of reality. Everything he was told was counter to his own opinions and experience, but isolated and bombarded by his captor’s “alternative truths,” he was forced to accept their version of reality.

More recently, June Weinstock, woman from Fairbanks, Alaska, in Guatemala on an archaeological expedition, was waiting for a bus when a mob of villagers attacked her, beating and stabbing her until rescuers told them she was dead. The government had been spreading the story that American tourists were kidnapping Guatemalan kids and cutting them up for their organs. When one of the villagers couldn’t find her child, people set upon Ms. Weinstock, who later died from her injuries. The child was later found rehearsing for an Easter pageant. The disinformation that led to the death of the woman was a Guatemalan “alternative truth.”

“Alternative truths” can have truly deadly consequences, and although the stories in the anthology of the same name are fiction and don’t pretend to be otherwise, they illustrate 24 reasons why it’s not a good way to run a country. The current administration should leave the story-telling to the professionals.
POTUS’s rambling oratory style is so well portrayed by Adam-Troy Castro in “Q&A” and Jim Wright’s “President Trump, Gettysburg, Nov. 19, 1863” mimic POTUS’S rambling oratory style that I almost couldn’t laugh for cringing.

My favorites were the more allegorical tales. Diana Hauer’s “The Trumperor and the Nightingale” gives a Trump/Midas twist to the Chinese fairytale about a real versus a fake songbird. The story is kind to “the royal family” but not as forgiving of the advisors and is one of very few in the book with a happy ending.

Louise Marley’s “Relics, a Fable” is a poignant tale of what life might be like for the old and poor in the shadow of the humongous wall that is supposed to keep Mexicans from immigrating to the US.

“Patti 309” by K.G. Anderson is also about older people, but the once-affluent and even celebrities in their–er–golden years, when age and ill-health have deprived them of not only their money, but also much of their identities.

“Melanoma Americana” is a thrilling uniquely Capitalist tale of where the money goes when big business meets medicine.

I particularly enjoyed the British humor in Parliament’s take on an a familiar-sounding American head of state in Susan Murrie Macdonald’s “As Prophesied of Old.”

I also found “Letters from the Heartland” by Janka Hobbs to have a more home-grown gallows humor.

Joel Ewy’s “about_the_change.wav” is a love story. It reminded me of a couple I know who almost split up over the election, though it has a bit of a Stepford Wives meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist to it. “Frozen” is also a love story, kind of, but this one doesn’t have any cute reindeer or princesses in it.

Particularly chilling were three stories about ordinary citizens caught up in the changes that come to pass when alternative truths become real. “Raid at 817 Maple Street” by Ken Staley, “Good Citizens” by Paula Hammond, “We’re Still Here,” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle and “The History Book” by Voss Foster show the horrific consequences of innocent behavior when monitored by a well-armed witch hunt in a time when paranoia substitutes for imagination and alternative truths trump (pardon the pun) reality.

“Altered to Truth” by the anthology’s co-editor (with Bob Brown) Irene Radford, “Alt Right for the President’s End” by Gregg Chamberlain, “Rage Against the Donald” by Bruno Lombardi, “It’s All Your Fault” by Daniel M. Kimmel, “Monkey Cage Rules” by Larry Hodges, “Duck, Donald: A Trump Exorcism” by Marleen S. Barr, and “Pinwheel Party” by Victor D. Phillips all feature different takes on what happens when the Wicked Witch of the West is also in charge of the West Wing.

“Walks Home Alone at Night” by Wondra Vanian is unfortunately non-futuristic, since it seems to be occurring right now.  The kind of mentality that threatens the protagonist in this story happens too often, particularly to minorities upon whom certain people currently in the Cabinet and Congress have declared “open season.”

In this versatile anthology, there’s even a story the NRA could love–a good old-fashioned-though-modern shoot-’em-up Western called “The Last Ranger (ANPS-1, CE 2053)” by Blaze Ward. An iron-jawed legendary hero, a young man earning his spurs, overwhelming odds, headin’ ’em off at the pass, and lots of things exploding!

This book doesn’t cure any of the evils that people do, but it does provide a feast of food for thought.

If this sounds like something you’d like to read and review, please do. It’s available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Altern…/dp/B0718YNJ97/ref=sr_1_1… Please share!

white house snowflakes

Mahalo to Elizabeth Ann Scarborough for her kind words on my story, our book, and her permission to reprint this book review on my blog. And merci beaucoup to the 70 readers who have reviewed Alternative Truths on Amazon thus far.