Controversial Topics in Fiction

R.A.R. CLOUSTON In his book, “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories,” the English journalist and author, Christopher John Penrice Booker (no apparent connection with the award), expands upon the long-held view of many literary experts that there are only so many basic plots in fiction writing. While I have not yet read his critically-acclaimed book, I could not help but be struck by two things about it: first, that the author has two middle names, an encumbrance that he apparently was saddled with at birth as was I (my parents having had great expectations for baby Robert—a goal against which, I freely admit, I have under-delivered, in large part because of the snooty sticker slapped upon my rosy red and quite commonplace bottom). But I digress… The second thing that caught my eye about Booker’s Jungian-based analysis was that the first basic plot he cites is precisely the one that has dominated my writing in all four of my novels; namely, “overcoming the monster,” or as some authors have interpreted it, “good versus evil.” In my case, I have taken this a step further and restated it as “God versus Satan,” a topic that is certainly controversial to…

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Living with a Writer

Laurie Boris I was so excited when Stephanie agreed to my request to write a guest blog for indieBRAG. When I looked at her list of suggested topics, one caught my eye immediately: interview my significant other about my writing career. It seemed like a great idea at the time, so I walked down the hall—Paul was in his home office, where he works as a commercial illustrator and website designer. (He designs all my book covers.) I broached the question. He gave me that “there is no good answer here” look. Like I’d just asked what he really thought about my new haircut. But he’s also a great sport, so he agreed. Here’s what resulted. Well, you married a writer. How’s it going so far? How many times have you wanted to run away screaming? We’ve been together for almost thirty years, so I’ll characterize it as “a work in progress.” Screaming? Seventeen. Does Laurie let you read what she wrote? Yes. She lets me beta-read her novels. With great power comes great responsibility. While reading, I have pictures of guillotines above my head. Then I realize I’m not in nineteenth century Paris, so I keep reading. How has…

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Someone Must Die

If you’ve watched more than one episode of Star Trek, you know when Captain Kirk, Spock, and Doctor McCoy step into the transporter with a red-shirted crew member, the “red-shirt” is marked for the chopping block. If laser beams spurt about planet-side, or some poisonous alien flower is blooming, red-shirt is doomed. Why? The answer to that question is an important key to making your fiction work and making your reader keep turning pages. First of all, in a good story, something has to happen, right? If not, you don’t have a plot; you have a still life. The stuff “happening” must affect the character(s), either externally or internally. Character and plot are intertwined. Character drives plot, or at least co-pilots. Plot helps build and show character. How? By letting readers “see” how the characters think and feel. Plot tests them. Plot sometimes tortures them! (Tip: If you don’t know much about your character, toss them into the fire and see what they do.) Alert: Important idea coming up: In a good plot, cost must be involved. If there is no price to pay, if nothing matters, if there are no consequences to your character’s decisions (whether that consequence is…

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Building an Author Platform

Contributed by Florence Osmund As an aspiring author anxious to get published, you may be tempted to plunge into the profession by first writing a book. That seems logical, but there’s this thing called author platform to consider that can affect your standing as an author, and the best time to start building one is before you start writing. An author platform is a continual plan of action that conveys your expertise and credibility to others and is essential in building a successful writing career. Platform is your visibility so that others know who you are and how to find you and your books.   Think of building a career as an author like building a house. The first thing you need to do is start laying a foundation—a platform for you to sell your book. Just like a house, your writing career needs a solid foundation in order to last long-term. Without it, your career could become shaky or tumble altogether. Some people have built-in platforms—celebrities, politicians, sports figures, wives of celebrities, wives of politicians (I think you get the picture). If you are one of these people, you can stop reading now. But if you’re just an ordinary…

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Coping With Negative Reviews

It’s natural to react when you’re criticized. When you first see a one- or two-star review, you may feel a sinking or burning sensation in your center. You may be hurt and discouraged and blame yourself Oh no—this reviewer thought my book was (dull, unbelievable, too descriptive, depressing, etc.) It must be that bad.” Or you might be hurt and angry and blame the reviewer. How could that person hate my book? It’s had nothing but good reviews until now. They have to be either an idiot or a troll.” The safest response is to step back and make a space for reflection. Get in touch with your core self, the wise part of you that realizes you’re still valuable and whole. I know of an author who panicked over a two-star and recruited friends to write reviews. She got caught. The unreflective reaction backfired. I’ve read blog posts by authors who have argued with reviewers and giving in to this gut reaction also backfired. One even went so far as to stalk a troll who was attacking her. Needless to say, this only increased the author’s suffering. I’ve been an actor and a choreographer, and am currently a professor…

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Promote your published book by blog marketing

1. Host articles in your blog site and keep it active The blog is your content home base. Readers may access your blog post from myriad channels—social media, comment thread, backlinks, search—but they should all end up in a blog site. Don’t host your articles in external sites—for example, Tumblr, LinkedIn, or Facebook—because you don’t own these platforms, and you can lose your materials once these sites fold up or close your account. Instead, register your own domain and have it hosted on a paid server. There are three critical advantages for this: What about free blog platforms? They’re good at increasing your audience reach, but, again, you don’t own the site so you risk losing everything one day. Instead, use these third-party sites as complementary platforms—for instance, posting a synopsis or shorthand version of the full-text article in your blog. Same thing with your social media pages: post teasers, tweets, and backlinks in these channels to drive traffic to your blog. 2. Talk about topics, not your book Learn from content marketing experts: HubSpot and Content Marketing Institute are two top experts in inbound marketing (getting traffic from content instead of ads). When you check their websites, they talk…

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The benefits of the B.R.A.G. Medallion and being a part of the indieBRAG Family

The benefits of the B.R.A.G. Medallion and being a part of the indieBRAG Family 2016 As anyone who has had their book honored with the B.R.A.G. Medallion knows, it is a very challenging but worthwhile experience! Obviously, we hope having the B.R.A.G. Medallion on your book will bring it to the attention of a broader group of potential readers. But there is a great deal more that you can and should do to beyond just having the Medallion on your book. Here are some suggestions that will help us help you benefit from achieving this industry-wide, recognized standard of quality. We encourage you to take advantage of what we offer and to be generous in sharing your experiences and knowledge with other indieBRAG authors Be sure to tell everyone about your B.R.A.G. Medallion – The more recognizable the Medallion becomes as an indication that a book is worth a reader’s time and money, the more it benefits everyone. “One for all, all for one”! Encourage others to come to to find books that might interest them. We do not sell or distribute books, and we get very little financially when purchasers click through to or the like to buy…

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A Story Inspiration is Suddenly Upon You!

Victoria Thurman Author of the B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree- The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnifield I had another Delilah moment on this past Sunday. Both of these are going in my new book. I got a huge bouquet of flowers. From a dog! I dog sit on occasion and I was staying at my friend Trish's house with her two dogs last Saturday/ Sunday. I sit for little Zeva in the townhouse attached to Trish's also. I had just left Trish's house about an hour and a half before Crystal called me and told me they had a fire at their house. I rushed back to get Trish's dogs out in-case smoke had gone through to their side- it hadn't thankfully. There were 3 fire engines blocking the street and I had to park at the top of the steep hill and run down. I hurdled over fire hoses and slid into "home base" (the doormat) and grabbed the key and opened the door running to the laundry room to free the dogs. After we got the okay there their side was safe- I put the dogs back in and then Crystal and her husband got the okay to go inside and…

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A Success Story!

A Self-Published Sleeper: Author of 'The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep' Speaks The originally self-published Swedish children’s book The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep may seem to be an overnight sensation, but its success, claims author Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin, is actually the result of a slow build over roughly five years. According to Ehrlin, the sudden spike in international sales for the book—which Random House Children's Books bought for seven figures in August and released on Friday—is thanks to a perfect storm: word-of mouth praise driven by e-book giveaways, coupled with Amazon U.K. providing entrée to consumer media once the self-published book had taken off. During a phone interview with PW from the New York City office of his new publisher, Ehrlin, 37, who received a B.A. in psychology from Jonkoping University in Sweden, has no formal training in pedagogy or any direct experience working with children. But he has worked with adults, as a communications expert and management coach, and said the idea for writing Rabbit about five years ago and self-publishing it in 2011 in Sweden was driven by his experience working with this group. Rabbit marks Ehrlin's third foray into publishing. In 2006 he self-published…

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