From Idea to Convention – Planning a Panel for HallowRead (Guest Post by Rachel Rawlings)

HallowRead red logo

The Process of Planning a Panel

By Rachel Rawlings, author and founder of HallowRead

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rachelsbooks

HallowRead will be held the weekend of Fri., Oct. 25 through Sun., Oct. 27. For more information including tickets, please visit the links at the end of this post.

The panels for HallowRead, much like the event itself happened organically. From the get go I wanted all of the participating authors to be involved in the panel process. After all, if they’re not excited about the topic, no one will have a good time. Readers want to see energetic and engaging authors when attending panels. The best way to achieve that is to have the authors engaged in the process of planning a panel. This is our first year and nearly everything about HallowRead is different from other conventions. Since I cold called the majority of authors attending this year we didn’t have a panel submission process. What we did have was an open discussion in the author group I created on FaceBook. I started a few threads in the group asking the authors what topics they wanted to talk about, some were more vocal than others- and I mean that in a good way! From there we expanded on those ideas and I would post names and descriptions for the panels asking for their opinions and often adjusting according to their suggestions. Twenty plus creative minds really are better than one.

One of my favorite part about the panels for HallowRead is the different locations. The town and its eclectic mix of business owners and residents really become a part of the event because the authors and attendees will be moving through the historic district. A unique feature made possible by the close proximity of each location. Comfy shoes are still encouraged. All of the buildings hosting a panel – from the Trolley Stop, known in its past life as the Bloody Bucket, to Cacao Lane and Diamond Back Tavern – have a haunted history, making them the perfect backdrop for our authors and panel topics.

A panel that isn’t really a panel? That’s kind of how I feel about the SteamPunk Tea. Friday October 25th, several SteamPunk authors will be taking over Tea On The Tiber. Dressed in full garb, Victorian high tea isn’t the only thing on the menu. Authors will be moving throughout the two tea rooms reading from their novels and talking about this unique genre of fiction. A separate ticket is required but well worth the low price of admission which does include a full tea service.

And last but certainly not least is the swag! Door prizes and give-aways are the concurrent theme for the HallowRead panels. Authors have all sorts of fun things to give away. Have a burning question? It just might score you a free book or signed swag!

Whatever you fancy, Horror, Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy, SteamPunk, we’ve got a panel for that! So come out and join us. At HallowRead the authors are dying to meet you!

For more information about the HallowRead and/or author Rachel Rawlings work visit the following sites:

www.hallowread.com
www.facebook.com/Hallowread
http://www.hallowread.blogspot.com/
http://www.hallowread.eventbrite.com/

http://www.rachelrawlings.com/
http://www.facebook.com/TheMaurinKincaideSeries

Want to have your own Guest Post at One Story Slinger? As long as your post discusses writing in some form, you’re invited to write a Guest Post. You don’t need to be a published author to be featured; I welcome any professional from the writing field too – literary agents, editors, reviewers, etc. For more information, email me or click here.

Advertisements

English author draws inspiration from sci-fi pros in debut novel

black-and-white portrait of JJ Marshall, author

English author JJ Marshall publishes debut novel, When the World Ends (photo used with permission)

20-year-old JJ Marshall loves science fiction or sci-fi – and loves to write in his favorite genre.

The Berkshire, England-based author is still pursuing a career in teaching, but in between his studies he managed to publish his debut novel, “When the World Ends,” back in July.

Self-publishing company AuthorHouse brought his story to life – and Marshall is excited to see his name in print. “Writing has always been a hobby and a passion of mine from a very young age,” Marshall said, adding that he credits J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series for inspiring him to “write for myself and to create worlds beyond our own.”

Marshall said Rowling is one of his top inspirational writers, as well as Charlaine Harris (author of vampire book series which inspired HBO’s True Blood) and Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games’ author, among others.

He also draws inspiration from TV show writers such as Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly fame), J.J. Abrams (creator of cult-favorite LOST), Steven Moffat (creator of UK-based Sherlock), and Jane Espenson (showrunner and consulting producer for Once Upon a Time and co-creator/showrunner of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland).

“Their work and the way that they construct characters and stories spur and challenge me to create my own little realities,” Marshall explained. “So welcome to one of my little realities!”

fancy page break

Descriptive Excerpt from “When the World Ends” (used with permission)

“We’re here as a terrorist cell looking to bring down the Board of Officials that essentially controls the entire Human Race. Those on Earth may have their own figures of authority in the Spheres but whether they ultimately live or die depends on decisions that the Board make. If we take them down then Humanity after they’re gone can only be better.”

At the dawn of the 22nd Century, Earth is dead. A lethal alien organism has rendered the planet uninhabitable and a small fraction of humanity has retreated to Space and the Moon. Those that remain on Earth are trapped in huge Spheres that encompass entire cities, tinted to defend against the deadly UV radiation that the atmosphere no longer protects Humanity from.

17-year-old Alec Corbett lives aboard the adapted International Space Station. One ordinary day in his mundane life he transforms his potential when he discovers information that could expose the corruption of the Board of Officials that now controls humanity. Armed with nothing but knowledge and his friend Jonah Jones by his side, Alec’s righteous judgment leads them on a merciless and unforgiving path.

For there is one key problem – the information comes from his father Landon Corbett; a member of the Board. Pitted against his own flesh and blood, Alec finds himself in a unique position to end the Board of Officials’ dictatorship over Humanity.

However, all is not as it seems and as the stakes grow increasingly higher, Humanity reaches the brink of all-out-war. Only Alec and his group of friends can peacefully negate the situation, but it all depends on whether or not anyone will listen to a 17-year-old boy.

Pick up your copy of “When the World Ends” today and learn the fate of JJ Marshall’s world:

Amazon USWhen the World Ends…

Amazon UKWhen the World Ends…

Barnes and Noble: When the World Ends…

KoboWhen the World Ends…

Author HouseWhen the World Ends…

For more information, visit JJ Marshall’s blog and social media/promo pages:

Feature written by Carolynne Keenan (One Story Slinger) based on information provided by Everything Marie’s Blog Tour for “When the World Ends.” Feature is copyrighted by Carolynne Keenan; photo and descriptive excerpt copyrighted by the author and Everything Marie.

Want to be featured? It’s easy! Check out the “Featured Authors” tab at the top of the blog and sign up today to be on the Features Calendar.

Debut novel “My Mr. Manny” wins Sept 2013 prize

first place award for Mrs Condit & Friends

copyright Mrs. Condit & Friends/used with permission

When Jennifer Garcia’s “My Mr. Manny” released back on August 27th, she had no idea that within one month her debut novel would win a first place writing award from popular review site, Mrs. Condit and Friends Reads Books.

But that’s just what happened. Garcia, whose only other published work is “In My Mother’s Footsteps,” a novella which released in July under a pseudonym, won the blog’s General Romance Author of the Month award.

“It was unexpected and very surprising,” Garcia said in an email. “I found out that I was even in the running for it at the end of the day and voting was almost over.” She rallied support from friends, family and loyal readers and in the end, emerged the victor.

“My Mr. Manny is one of those books you can’t put down once you’ve started it,” said Becky Condit, of Mrs. Condit & Friends Reads Books, the site awarding the prize. “It is a carefully written book with well developed characters and a smoothly flowing plot. It is obvious that Jennifer has many devoted fans and they were kind enough to turn out to vote.”

Condit explained how the prize was awarded. “Our motto is, ‘We review the books, you select the winner,'” Condit said. All books that receive five sweet peas (the blog’s version of stars) each month are contenders for the prize, she explained. The site is comprised of 11 reviewers, including Condit herself. Typically the blog favors romance novels, but Condit said she and her friends will read and review almost anything – including a vegan cookbook up for review this fall.

Books earning their five sweet peas are nominated for the blog’s monthly award. Condit explained that the site hosts the poll the first week of the month that immediately follows the reviews – so books reviewed now in October will be up for the award in November. Blog visitors, readers, friends, family and fans can vote for their favorite reads during that first week.

Condit said she and her reviewers read over 1,000 books a year. She started Mrs. Condit & Friends Reads Books just two years ago, “when I noticed that many reviews on the Internet tended to be unkind in tone, what some would call ‘snarky,'” Condit said.

“All reviews are honest, but never cruel or disparaging,” Condit said, adding that her site has grown steadily in support – both in reviewers and readers.

“If we feel a book has flaws we’ll point them out and rate the book accordingly but in a polite way with as positive a tone as possible to benefit those who may be considering the purchase of a book,” Condit said.

But Condit didn’t have any issue with “My Mr. Manny,” Garcia’s winning title. She wrote in her review:

“What a delightful story! My Mr. Manny is full of people to love and identify with from beginning to end. When insta-love occurs I was actually happy for the couple rather than objecting to an often over-used trope. Jennifer Garcia knows just how to give it that little kick to update it and make me want it for myself.”

Garcia said she was grateful for the award. “I’m just grateful and appreciative to all who voted for me,” she said.

For the rest of Mrs. Condit’s review of Jennifer Garcia’s “My Mr. Manny,” please visit her review.

   fancy page break

One Story Slinger loves to get to know the authors behind the words, the faces behind the stories. Here are some fave facts about Jennifer Garcia, author of “My Mr. Manny.”

Fun & Fast Faves

Fave Food: Pasta

Fave Color: Red

Fave Movie: The Notebook

Fave Book (not written by you): The Shoemaker’s Wife

Fave Quote: Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.”

If you could live as a character for a week, who would you pick? Elizabeth Bennett-Darcy, after she was married of course.

For more information about Jennifer Garcia and her book, please visit her website: http://jenniferfgarcia.com/the-books/my-mr-manny/

Daily Writing Prompt #19.13 – Scarecrow Convo (10/15/13)

 

My last prompt post was back in September before the Bullying story posted – before the federal government shutdown. Yikes! But dealing with Trolls, their Pathetic Attacks (Capitalized for Emphasis) and sorting through which comments were actually productive and not just additional Trolls Trying to Defend Their Criminal Behavior, took a lot of steam.

Plus I’ve been pretty sick with migraines – I get them daily and still am even though the weather should be cooling down as Autumn is upon us. (You hear me, my evil state?!)

Here’s an appropriate writing prompt to help usher in the season of scares, pumpkins, and Halloween.

fancy page break

Daily Writing Prompt #19.13 – Scarecrow Convo (10/15/13)

You’ve just woken up as a scarecrow in your dad’s cornfield. How did you get there? Were you reincarnated? Did a prank go horribly wrong? Talk to the crow that has landed on your shoulder – so much for scaring those things.

nonworking scarecrow - with a crow

 

When Reviewers Attack – Part Three – Take Control Against Trolls Who Attack

Part Three – Take Control against Reviewers Who Attack (Prologue, Part One, Part Two)

Cyberstalking and cyber-harassment are real threats. What can an author do about it?

1)   Know you’re not alone

2)   Decide to stand up for yourself

a. Document EVERYTHING

b. Save EVERYTHING

c. Start a file and print out copies of emails, threatening reviews, criminal notes listing home addresses

d. Know your state’s anti-cyberstalking laws, and review the federal statutes as well.

e. Protect yourself against attacks

f. If you don’t want to speak out for fear of reprisal, make sure you have a good network of friends and family to support you. Reach out to other authors.

It’s time for a revolution. Victimized authors have a legitimate case to sue for harassment against each of the bullies. Stand united and we can take them down – one by one, if we have to.

Crimes are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment or both. Many people are joining a lawsuit against the abuse. Stay tuned to One Story Slinger for follow-up pieces on those legal cases.

Authors can always opt to ignore them. Who really cares about the reviews of a bunch of unprofessional nitwits like the trolls have proven themselves to be? Look into writing blogs to get your books reviewed. Remove your books from GoodReads/Amazon and other sites if you don’t care for their policies. It’s your right to do so.

There are good reviewers out there – and there are good people out there that support you and your efforts to be rid of bullying.

Let’s keep talking about this issue as often as possible. I’ll keep updating my readers on this case and others. The more attention we bring to the psychosis and inanity of the trolls, the more support we’ll have.

Above all, remember you’re not alone. Unfortunately trolls attack many authors but I’m hopeful that over time, as we expose their insanity, inanity, lies, crimes and behaviors we’ll garner more support and eventually put a stop to the bullying.

Bryant, one of the authors who has been cyberstalked and harassed, advised fellow  victims to go to sites like Stop The Goodreads Bullies (STGRB) to “learn what to do and what not to do.”

“Do what your heart tells you,” Bryant said. “Nobody knows you more than you know yourself.”

Resources for victims

http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/stalking-behavior-victims-seeking-help-040513

https://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs14-stk.htm

http://www.fightcyberstalking.org/ (includes ways to report cyberstalking cases)

 

When Reviewers Attack – Part Two – Evidence of Crimes

Part Two on my series, “When Reviewers Attack,” exposing the truth behind criminal reviewers

(See Prologue & Part One for more info)

I am taking a stand against the criminal behavior. I spoke with several authors who have been victims of cyberstalking crime from Goodreads “reviewers,” or “trolls.”

If you review a book and don’t like it, it’s OK – as long as that’s where your negativity ends. But if you use that as a reason to attack an author’s credibility and integrity online, and/or if you commit a crime against an author, then not only are you a troll, but you’re also a criminal.

Several crimes have been committed in the examples to follow, as you’ll see in the statutes outlined in “Sources.”

47 USCS § 223 outlines the federal statute regarding harassment and prohibits people from using the internet (c) “with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.”

Similarly, the Federal Stalking Law bans people from using the Internet as a means to “kill, injure, harass, intimidate or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass or intimidate another person.”

In addition, these trolls have behaved criminally as they have “placed [authors] in reasonable fear of the death of or serious bodily injury” of themselves or family members, and they’ve “cause[d] or attempt[ed] to cause or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress.”

I’ve seen many examples where these laws have been violated. Punishments can vary by states; some states will impose a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine of $500. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Please see the link below from NCSL to view your state’s cyberstalking laws.

I was able to speak to two authors known as crusaders against the trolls and troll-like behavior on Goodreads. Both shared their experiences with this criminal behavior.

Carroll Bryant, songwriter turned published author, is somewhat new to the writing community. He’s been published since 2011, and is set to release his fifth book. For the first few months of being a published author, Bryant said he received terrific feedback from readers and reviewers alike. His worst review, he added, was a three-star rating.

“It’s always great to hear from writers about what they liked and didn’t like about my stories,” Bryant said.

But in 2012, Bryant explained, everything changed. According to Bryant, an 18-year-old reviewer received a free copy of one of his books – after agreeing to write a review. The reviewer backed out, but kept the copy of the book.

And then, Bryant said, she took the incident to a new level when she encouraged friends to basically steal from him – request copies of his book under the guise of reviewing them, but not actually follow through.

Bryant said he began blocking the reviewer and her friends, thinking the situation would blow over. But everything got much worse, he said, because he became a victim of cyberstalking.

The troll was obsessed. She spent three to four months communicating with Bryant’s co-blogger on a site they shared, gaining his friend’s trust by pretending she was going to help with the blog’s design, he explained.

“All the girl wanted to do was leave links to the shared blog on her websites and ‘rub it in’ that she could still ‘get to me’ whenever she wanted,” Bryant said.

Within a few days, Bryant’s inbox was flooded with nasty comments from strangers accusing him of an inappropriate relationship with the reviewer (who was actually 18). His books were trashed all over Goodreads, and Goodreads ultimately closed his account – based on lies perpetuated by the reviewer. (This is an obvious violation of the cyberstalking laws outlined above and in Part One.)

Bryant said he never heard from Goodreads about why the account was shut down.

Goodreads declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story.

The trolls attacking Bryant did make a mistake. A complaint based on misinformation backfired when Bryant was able to provide proof that the information was false. This gave him a chance to begin a case against the trolls themselves for their criminal actions, he explained.

Rick Carufel, another published author, is repeatedly attacked on social media and through sites like Goodreads. One of his stalkers created a false social media account and continually pretends to be him – another clear violation of cyberstalking laws. The account has been reported to Twitter.

Carufel explained the attacks on him started years ago when he unknowingly promoted one of his published books in a forum on Amazon that didn’t allow that. Instead of just explaining the rules, several users bullied him and insulted his livelihood of being a writer. That’s when his troubles began.

When he wrote a response to a popular author’s essay, the negative responses and reviews of his work suddenly increased, he explained.

As an author who supports himself by writing full-time, Carufel is more upset about the loss in revenue based on lies and crimes perpetuated against him, he said.

He’s taken the fight to another level by creating his own review website called Double Blind Book Reviews. The site is designed to remove any potential bias against authors and reviewers. This way the only thing that will actually be judged is the story itself.

The site is still under development, Carufel explained.

“I started [to] fight them openly when I realized they were serial stalkers out to destroy the reputations careers and livelihood of as many indie writers as possible,” Carufel added.

Goodreads has made some changes to their policy. Now reviewers can’t just randomly review or rate bomb an author, and reviews that do so are removed.

Some reviewers are crying foul, and censorship, and demand that Goodreads – which offers the site as a free service! – let reviewers do whatever they want.

No reviewers responded to repeated requests to explain this. In fact, most reviewers attacked me for standing up for the injustice than answering a simple question. None of them were willing to speak to me about their behavior, which is just more proof that these authors being bullied are in the right. (They accused me of “taunting” reviewers but I only taunt the criminal reviewers.)

But what can people who are being cyberstalked actually do?

Stay tuned for Part Three – Taking Control.

Sources:

http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html

https://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs14-stk.htm

http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx

http://indie-publishing.blogspot.com/

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Carroll Bryant and Rick Carufel for agreeing to share their stories with me and my readers.

When Reviewers Attack – The Criminal Case Against Trolls (Part One)

Freedom of speech, the first amendment, is guaranteed to US citizens in our Bill of Rights. But for so many, freedom of speech is misunderstood or, worse, intentionally misused.

I’ve studied the first amendment for many years. First, in college, in Communications Law, as I defended my thesis. Second, in my field of journalism, as I applied this right to many cases where the people’s rights had been infringed.

Citizens of the USA live in one of the greatest democracies in the world, due in large part, I believe, to this right. We’re supposed to be able to criticize our government without fear, to speak our minds and opinions.  We’re a nation that takes this seriously, and we love to speak our minds, even if there is no audience.

You have the right to either like a product or hate a product. If you’re unhappy with a purchase, you can contact the company for a refund – or to just complain about your experience.

You have a right to watch whatever you want to watch on TV – technically. Your parents and/or spouse may not care for your selections, but the ability to choose is in the essence of our country. Likewise, you can read whatever book you want to read – or skip them altogether.

If you read a book and you don’t like it, you have every right to say that to whomever you think is listening.

But you don’t have the right to behave in a criminal manner towards an author based solely on the fact that you don’t like his or her books.  This seems like common sense, but for so many victims of cyberbullying, this simple principle of society isn’t being followed. And what’s worse is there is seemingly no way to stop it.

There has been a lot of discussion about Goodreads, a free service in which readers can log and review books, and the change in policies. Some reviewers are crying, “censorship” and several have deleted their accounts in protest.

This investigation discusses the real threat of cyberstalking and criminal behavior among some reviewers, those known collectively as “trolls.”

I posed the question as why there are so many one-star ratings on Goodreads. See for yourself (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1520265-why-so-many-one-star-ratings) – many explained their rating system, which I appreciated. But many personally attacked me for asking the question, even though all I was trying to do was get them to respond to me.

No reviewers responded to my emails seeking comments. I offered to give them space to share their concerns, but all I received was a threat from a “Linda H” who told me she would kidnap my children if I posted anything about the investigation.

Clearly, I’m not worried. She has no idea who I am, and the fact that she went on the record threatening to kidnap my non-existent children gives me evidence for conspiracy to commit a federal crime.

Furthermore, threats against a federal employee are punishable by a fine and/or jail time, according to 18 USC 111.

Several stricter anti-stalking laws are under negotiation now. Currently the law on the books is 47 USCS § 223, which outlines the federal statute regarding harassment and prohibits people from using the internet (c) “with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.”

Similarly, the Federal Stalking Law bans people from using the Internet as a means to “kill, injure, harass, intimidate or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass or intimidate another person.”

In addition, these trolls have behaved criminally as they have “placed [authors] in reasonable fear of the death of or serious bodily injury” of themselves or family members, and they’ve “cause[d] or attempt[ed] to cause or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress.”

“Some mental illness can lead to stalking.” Not every troll suffers from a mental illness, but many of them do, or have psychotic tendencies and should be considered dangerous. How dangerous? http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/psychology/cyberstalking/3.html

In Paul Bocij’s book, Cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family, he identified several key factors that have been reported (with evidence) by victims (not all of the factors are listed here, only those that pertain to the investigation):

  • False accusations. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. They post false information about them on websites. They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms, or other sites that allow public contributions such as Goodreads.
  • Attempts to gather information about the victim.  Cyberstalkers may approach their victim’s friends, family, and work colleagues to obtain personal information.
  • Monitoring their target’s online activities and attempting to trace their IP address in an effort to gather more info.
  • Encouraging others to harass the victim. Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment. They may      claim the victim has harmed the stalker or his/her family in some way, or may post the victim’s name and telephone number in order to encourage others to join the pursuit.
  • False victimization. The cyberstalker will claim that the victim is harassing him/her.

Some readers have found fault with my use of the word “bullying” and “troll.” I’m a victim of bullying myself for years in middle and high school. Bullying is defined as targeted, repeated, aggressive attacks against a person with the intention to intimidate and/or harm. You’ve heard growing up that bullies are typically intellectually inferior beings who take out the hatred of themselves, their insecurities and limits on others.

That’s exactly what is happening here on sites like Goodreads.

And my use of the word “troll” is based on several sites who refer to these negative, hostile, unprofessional and often immature “reviewers.” I’m not attacking all reviewers, and like I said, I have nothing against people who review yet manage not to commit a crime. If you don’t like the word I’m using, I have to wonder if the word defines you personally.

There is also a gang mentality in place, where some trolls are emerging as leaders of the pack and coordinating efforts to commit crimes against other people. This is a dangerous revelation, and this is what also needs to be stopped.

In Part Two, I chatted with two authors who have been dealing with this abuse for the past few years.

(Update: 10/6/13) I ended up deleting my GR account after I realized no matter what I said to these trolls they would deliberately misunderstand me, repeatedly insult and threaten me, and generally be annoying. I tried to give them a chance to tell their side of the story but they don’t have any real proof; they’re self-righteous without any true meaning. I feel sorry for them that they hate themselves so much. Oh well, over it now.

Stay tuned to One Story Slinger!