indieBRAG Blog

Ripple – Tui Allen

Author Interview: Tui Allen I would like to introduce Author Tui Allen, the winner of the the B.R.A.G Medallion. Please tell us about your book, "Ripple." Ripple arose from my fascination with two facts:· Dolphins were fully evolved 20 million years before humans came down from the trees.· A dolphin brain has ten times the capacity of the human brain for processing sound.It made me realise how little we really know about dolphins, how great is their mystery and how presumptuous we are to consider ourselves worth more than them. I want my readers, to wonder if this story might really have happened and then to want to give all cetaceans the benefit of the doubt and accord more respect to all those life-forms which humans, through their own limitations, cannot possibly fully understand. The book had a working title, "Ripple of Sound." The story brewed in my brain for twenty years before the novel emerged. The poem version was the first incarnation of the story. The poem is included at the end of the book. It's about twenty years older than the novel What were some of the challenges you faced while researching for your story? I needed to…

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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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The Last Seal – Richard Denning

  Author Interview: Richard Denning Layered Pages has the honor of introducing Author Richard Denning. Two time winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion! -Stephanie Richard please tell us about your book, The Last Seal. The Last Seal is a historical Fantasy set during the Great Fire of London in the year 1666 – a fire which destroyed the heart of the city and made 70,000 people homeless. I started reading up on the fire when I was designing a board game I published a couple of years ago AND for a scene in a Time Travel novel I also wrote. When I read about the fire I came across a lot on what beliefs and superstitions people had. I found about the widespread paranoia about foreign plots and conspiracies that people had at the time as well as their belief in magic being real. All that came together very quickly into a idea. I asked myself what if the fire was not just an accident, what if there really were secret societies involved and a supernatural explanation behind the great event? So here is a synopsis of The Last Seal. September 1666: a struggle between two secret societies threatens to destroy…

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Voice of the Dophins – Hardy Jones

Author Interview: Hardy Jones 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. My true aim was to get inside the minds of these enormously intelligent and friendly animals." His book…

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Chicago’s Printers Row Lit Fest

  This weekend, the indieBRAG team joined nearly 130,000 fellow literary enthusiasts in Chicago's historic South Loop for the 28th Annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest. It was a day filled with books, music, demonstrations and lots of sun.                             Our main purpose for attending was to spread the word about B.R.A.G.Medallion and our wonderful Honorees THE LIST OF HONOREES . But we couldn't resist indulging in some of the wonderful activities going on around us. There were more than 200 authors present – from the big names to the up-and-comers. And that's where we found one of our favorites parts of the Festival, hosted by the 826CHI writing and tutoring program. For those of you unfamiliar with 826CHI, it is a fantastic non-profit "dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their...writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write." But unlike many tutoring programs, 826CHI gives students the opportunity to publish their works, either in-house or professionally, and release them at community events. When we caught up with the very talented kids of 826CHI, they were proudly displaying their published works and some were even giving autographs. What a unique and inspiring way to empower young people and engage them in literature. Click here to learn more about 826CHI. It was a terrific event where we met many new authors, publishers and press. We are investigating several joint events that will give us even more visibility, so stay tuned!

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Summer, the ocean —-and Pirates!

In the early 1700's a very headstrong and tough girl from Cork, Ireland (she beat a man for making unwanted advances!) married into the adventurous world of Piracy --- actually she married several pirates! After marrying her "dream" pirate in 1719, she helped steal a sloop and made a life of piracy in the Caribbean. Dressed as a man she proved to be as good as many a man at fighting and stealing. After being caught and tried, she escaped hanging but her fate is unknown. As with many pirates, Anne Bonny's story has become that of legend. Books of interest: Helen Hollick has written 3 books in the Sea Witch Series that will make you feel the very spray from the sea as this story carries you into a world of danger, love and treachery! Following the pirate Jesamiah Acorne and his woman, Tiola, upon the high seas will give you the thrill and romance of the life of a pirate.

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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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Perfect-Weather Reading

"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." – Dr. Seuss "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut" Summer―sitting on the porch with a good book, a cool breeze blowing. Summer ―sitting on the beach with a good book, the waves softly lapping. Summer―sitting by the campfire with a good book, an unseen owl hooting. There are so many perfect warm-weather spots to read a book! And without leaving the porch, or the beach, or the campfire, we can spend the entire summer traveling around the world; meeting the most interesting of people, fighting great battles, and falling in love. I think I will visit Paris with Mr. Hemingway this week; next week I think I will fall in love with a vampire―or perhaps not. Meeting new authors and reading new books, I will have the very best of summers.

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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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