indieBRAG Blog

PBS Documentary: Sheriff

Fact: SHERIFF follows the daily adventures of the larger-than-life character Sheriff Ronald W. Hewett in rural Brunswick County, North Carolina Premiered on PBS's Independent Lens SHERIFF follows the daily adventures of Sheriff Ronald E. Hewett as he tries to keep the peace in the rural community of Brunswick County, North Carolina. More than five years in the making, SHERIFF uses classic cinema verité techniques (excluding the interviews and music) to paint a detailed, intimate portrait of a dying breed of iconic Americana: the small-town sheriff trying to do good in a very bad world. We meet 38-year-old Sheriff Hewett doing what he is so often called upon to do: face the local news media under the harshest of conditions. In this case, it is a double murder in which two small children were also brutally injured. As mosquitoes buzz around his sweating face, Hewett delivers to the cameras sound byte after sound byte, before politely excusing himself so that he may be sick on the side of the road. Indeed, Hewett is the quintessential southern gentleman, a man whose easy smile, open sincerity and comforting southern accent invites the entire community to embrace him as part of their family. This is not entirely by chance—as a montage of Hewett business placards and road signs reveal, Hewett seems to be related to almost everyone in Brunswick County and is considered their favorite son. Some of this admiration stems from Hewett's bold modernization of the formerly backward, backwoods sheriff's department. (Before Hewett was elected in 1994, the sheriff's department wasn't even open after 5 PM). SHERIFF reveals the flawed but earnest human behind the Andy Griffith and Buford Pusser clichés. Hewett's daily struggles with justice, power and public opinion are not far removed from America's own struggles. In one of the film's most humorous scenes, Hewett raids a small-time video poker parlor and uses his intimidating charm to induce an employee to reveal the location of the cash earnings. Although he finds it difficult not to sympathize with some of the low-income denizens of Brunswick County, Hewett is convinced of his duty to clean up his homeland. After he corners one of the video poker owners, he delivers a speech so heroic it's hard to believe it wasn't scripted. Interspersed between these entertaining episodes are gentle interludes that capture the tones, textures and earthy serenity of the modern American South. Insects chirp over beautiful shots of twisted swampland. Corn stalks roar, rustled by the hot wind. The neon sign of a store advertising "Worms & Coffee" buzzes into the damp, dark night. These sequences look past the stereotype of the oft-mythologized South to show us places we all recognize: places of beauty, wildness and serenity. This serenity is all too often shattered. The centerpiece of SHERIFF is the brutal slaying of a 70-year-old attorney. Hewett arrives quietly and examines the bloody crime scene. Then once again he's thrust before the news media and delivers in his characteristic timbre the hard facts of the case as well as a plea for help in finding the killer. The ensuing investigation, which involves many of Hewett's officers, eventually frustrates Hewett when he finds they are not following orders to his precise specifications. But on the second day of the investigation, Hewett falls back into his comfortable good humor, even taking breaks to make sure all of his employees and volunteers are properly slathered in bug spray. Fiction: A Cold Snow In Castaway County  

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Voice of the Dophins – Hardy Jones

Author Interview: Hardy Jones It is with great sadness that we must announce the passing of Hardy Jones on December 9, 2018 I would like to introduce Author Hardy Jones the winner of the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion. Please tell us about your book, "The Voice of the Dolphins." The Voice of the Dolphins is the story of more than thirty years of filming and research among dolphins around the world. In 1978 filmmaker Hardy Jones was swept into the universe of dolphins. In his work as a filmmaker he came to know many of these magnificent animals as individuals. "I know when I'm with them that I'm relating to creatures as intelligent, social, and imbued with emotion as I am." Hardy's life became even more closely entwined with dolphins when he learned that he and the dolphins share a genetic trait that imperils both his life and the survival of dolphins worldwide. Starting with the film that came from his first life-changing encounter with spotted dolphins in the Bahamas, he's made over 70 documentaries for PBS, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and foreign broadcasters. "Filming became my entrée into the world of dolphins but not my ultimate purpose there.…

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Self-Published Books are our life at indieBRAG!

Literary Snobbery There is no question that self-publishing has created a plethora of poorly written and badly edited books because there are no controls over what is published or by whom. Now anyone can publish anything: good, bad, or downright ugly. And they do. However, the risk of purchasing a "bad" book is not limited to indie books. Have you ever picked up a book published by one of the major publishing houses, read a few pages and then asked yourself, "Really? This is a best seller?" Of course you have, so let's get past the assumption that all traditionally published books are good. They are not! Many a successful author has written a bestseller and then fallen into the trap of pursuing quantity over quality, and relying on their name recognition to sell follow-up books that fall far short of the first one. And the big publishing houses are all too willing to join them in this money grab. That said, in the burgeoning world of self-published books, there are diamonds in the coal bin but few professional reviewers are willing to dig for them; I guess they don't want to get their hands dirty. For example, I had an experience with a book reviewer at a major newspaper. I asked her to read a self-published book that was getting some great reviews by our readers. She was very interested until she asked who published it. "Oh, no," she said, "I can't read that." "Why not?" I asked, "Ralph Waldo Emerson self-published some of his books". "That's different. That was a long time ago" (Really?) "Well did you know that John Grisham also self-published at first?" "This author is no John Grisham!" "How do you know that if you aren't willing to give the author a chance?" "Do NOT send me that book". Click. Literary snobbery lives! Our readers are reading as fast as they can to identify self-published books that deserve to be read. Now I will confess that the majority of the books we review are not chosen to receive a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM. That is because we want our medallion to represent a certain standard of excellence, and thereby assure potential purchasers that the book is worth their time and money. But it is encouraging to note that our readers, many of whom had not read a self-published book before, are excited about how many really good books are out there―our mission is to keep finding them!

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Six Steps to Sustaining an Indie Career

Six Steps to Sustaining an Indie Career By Scott Nicholson (Scott Nicholson is author of the new mystery thriller Liquid Fear—available for 99 cents at Amazon, BN.com, and Smashwords—as well as The Skull Ring, The Red Church, Disintegration, Speed Dating with the Dead, and 20 other books. He resides at hauntedcomputer.com.) I am not sure anyone yet knows how to sustain an indie career in the digital era, despite some people who have been self-publishing since the dinosaur days of paper. The only ones who have careers are those who are already closing in on their indie million. If it all ended tomorrow, they could probably manage okay with some smart investing. Those who are getting a decent income right now could see it go one of two ways. If it ended tomorrow, a solid percentage would immediately shift to giving their books away to “build audience,” even if a paying audience down the road seems unlikely. Those who quit their day jobs to go indie can probably find other jobs, and have a great story for the grandkids about when they were ‘real authors.” A few will continue to parlay indie success into a corporate career. But even corporate…

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Use of Social Media: Scary but Necessary

Use of Social Media: Scary but Necessary After writing my first book and self-publishing it through a company who does such things, I thought that the tough and time-consuming work was completed. Boy was I mistaken! I quickly realized that the process of promoting my book was every bit as hard and time consuming. And, I realized that using social media was going to be a huge asset to promoting my book. Now, I must admit, at that point in time I was only using Facebook. I had begun on Twitter and had abandoned it because I did not want to take the time to learn how it functioned and Facebook seemed easier for the novice to understand. Further, blogging was a totally unknown media that I only presumed was some new swear word when people mentioned it in conversation with me. I was really not any where near the mainstream of social media: not in the ball park as they say. So, I went back to the company that helped me publish and selected their social media program option. For six weeks, I had my own media publicist who taught me about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and Hootsuite, a…

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Doug Carlyle

Doug Carlyle   My second novel, Vinegarone, is in the hands of beta readers and my editor. I'm looking forward to self-publishing that novel this summer or early autumn. I attended a writers' conference this past April sponsored by the Houston Writers Guild, of which I am a member. The conference served two purposes. First, it provided some long overdue time for me to surround myself with like-minded people who enjoy writing. It was during one session that I experienced a badly needed "ah-ha!" moment, enabling me to clarify a particular weakness in the plot of Vinegarone that had been nagging me for far too long. That moment of inspiration allowed me to finish the novel to my satisfaction, and I am my own worst critic. I will never publish junk! Secondly, it reaffirmed my belief in self-publishing. If a noteworthy agent contacted me tomorrow and expressed interest in my novel would I foam at the mouth? Perhaps. But let me share a bit of my experience in Houston. I was particularly struck by the break-out sessions lead by authors Rhiannon Frator and Nikki Loftin. Rhiannon Frater http://rhiannonfrater.com She is a well known, self-published author of zombie/vampire books. She has…

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Writing Tips from Joe Perrone, Jr.

Writing Tips from Joe Perrone, Jr. Inspiration - I find ideas everywhere there are news articles, books, movies, real-life situations.  Sometimes I'll be reading a non-fiction book, and something in it will give me a direction for one of my books.  This is where I got the idea for Twice Bitten.  Another "germ" came to me when I was mowing my lawn, and resulted in the genesis for Changes, a literary novel that I am working on, periodically.  Naturally, real life experiences help me to flesh out events and characters.  Inspiration?  It's all around you!  Use it. Routine - My routine has evolved over many, many years.  Once I have a "germ" of an idea, I begin roughing it out in an outline.  Then, I decide what characters I'll need to tell my story.  I like to do a little "bio" for each character, which includes age, height, weight, interests, hair color, eyes, etc.  I save these for reference as I proceed with my writing.  Each day, when I'm moved to write, I first go over what I've written in my previous session, and make editing, proofing changes as needed.  I don't write a single new word until I have…

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First Year as a Newborn and Newbie Published Author

First Year as a Newborn and Newbie Published Author Last year I rang in the New Year with my daughter, who had just had her first baby. I was exhausted (she had had a difficult delivery) and elated at being a grandmother. This New Year’s day, as I look back at the wonderful year of watching that sweet grandson grow and develop, I can’t help but notice some of the parallels between my experiences as a newly published independent author and that of my grandson. Last New Year as my grandson was trying to figure out how to nurse, when I added up my first month of sales of Maids of Misfortune, the historical mystery I had self-published in both ebook and print form, I discovered I had sold only 47 books, mostly to friends and family. I had an author website (but no reviews), and a blog (where I hadn’t posted anything yet), and I had read enough advice on self-publishing to know that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted anyone else to even discover my book existed. In the first six months of 2010, as my grandson learned to hold his head up,…

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A Note from a Graphic Designer on Book Cover Designs

A Note from a Graphic Designer on Book Cover Designs I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an attractive and professionally designed cover for your novel. The cover is the first impression any potential reader will have of your book. And despite that old adage 'Do not judge a book by its cover', nearly everyone does! Even before I became a graphic designer, I would only pick up books in the shops that had covers that I found attractive and were obviously well done. A cover quickly pasted together in a word processor or novice-level graphic program sticks out like a sore thumb, and people automatically assume the book inside is just as un-polished as the cover without even picking up the book! You've no doubt poured your life's blood into writing your book - let it be represented in the best possible light with an expertly designed cover. The investment is well worth it. When you begin planning the cover jacket layout for your novels, take the time to research existing publications within your genre, and consider what attracts you to various covers. And then talk to a designer about representing your novel with a well…

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Going ‘Independent’? (Self or Assisted Publishing)

Going 'Independent'? (Self or Assisted Publishing) Many writers – and not just novices - frustrated by the endless arrival of enough reject slips to paper the downstairs cloakroom, are turning to self- or assisted publishing – now more commonly called ‘Independent Publishing’. ‘But,’ I hear you cry, ‘isn’t this the dreaded vanity publishing?’ In a word: ‘No!’ Vanity publishers take your manuscript as it stands; their only input is to turn it into print, glitches and all, crop the pages to make it look somewhat like a book and slap a cover on it – for which they will charge you through the nose, no matter how well – or otherwise – you have written it. Your book is not produced to sell in bookstores, but for you, your friends and family to admire and enjoy. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong in that - if that is all you want. To self publish implies a greater degree of author-involvement. Indeed, and as the term suggests, it is to do everything for yourself bar the actual printing. From obtaining an ISBN, to finding a printer to print your novel; an artist to design the layout and create the cover; a copy-editor…

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