By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Author: Victor Davis (Page 1 of 4)

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

 

I have yet to allow someone else to take over my Sticky Book series on Wednesdays. After all, these are books that have stuck with me for a long time after reading. But when longtime Nothing Any Good friend Victor Davis excitedly inquired whether he could introduce a Sticky Book to my readers, I couldn’t deny that kind of excitement. Victor has contributed a very well regarded WordPress for Authors series, so it was the least I could do to offer the coveted Sticky Books spot to a guest. I have not read this book, but rest assured it is now on my list. – Dan Buri

 

by Guest Author Victor Davis

When my wife first read Reading Lolita in Tehran, she fell in love with it. I decided to read Lolita first for context, followed by Reading Lolita in Tehran memoir about the Iranian Revolution by Azar Nafisi, a professor of English Literature from the time of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq war.

Her career carried her to several different universities with the winds of social change and various states of liberal education. During some of those darker times when books were banned, liberal universities were letting “western” professors go, and the regime was cracking down on un-Islamic teachings and culture, Nafisi ran a secret book club out of her living room. She eventually emigrated to the U.S. and wrote this memoir.

Any book lover will immediately be drawn to the idea of a secret book club, held in the shadows of a book-banning regime. Nafisi goes so much deeper than this surface theme. She professorially analyzes four books and tells different parts of her story with each book’s theme in mind: Lolita, The Great Gatsby, Henry James, and Jane Austen. The overall lesson then is how relevant these western writers’ experiences and messages were to the founding of modern Iran and the oppression it has become known for. Here are some selected quotes and passages.

 

“Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life. What we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.”

 

“It is only through empty rituals that brutality becomes possible.”

 

“Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.”

 

“Is it possible to write a reverent novel and have it be good?”

 

“A stern ayatollah, a blind and improbable philosopher-king, had decided to impose his dream on a country and a people and to re-create us all in his own myopic vision.”

 

“Now that all this was illegal, I felt light and fictional.”

 

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

“The war has used up words; they have weakened, they have deteriorated like motor car tires; they have, like millions of other things, been more over-strained and knocked about and voided of the happy semblance during the last six months than in all the long ages before, and we are now confronted with a depreciation of all our terms, or, otherwise speaking, with a loss of expression through increase of limpness, that may well make us wonder what ghosts will be left to walk.” ~Henry James, 1915

 

“[Henry James] was aware, as many were not, of the toll such cruelty takes on emotions and of the resistance to compassion that such events engender. In fact, this insensitivity becomes a way of survival. As in his novels, he insisted on the most important of all human attributes – feeling – and railed against ‘the paralysis of my own powers to do anything but increasingly and inordinately feel.’ ”

 

“I know these people better than you; they change their words more often than their clothes. Islam has become a business, like oil for Texaco. These people who deal in Islam – each one tries to package it better than the next. And we are stuck without them. You don’t think they’d ever admit that we could live better without oil, do you? Can they say Islam is not needed for good government? No, but the reformers are shrewder; they will give you the oil a little cheaper, and promise to make it cleaner.”

 

Sticky Books are those that you just can’t get out of your head. They stick with you long after you have put the book down and have moved on to something else. These are some of my Sticky Books. I don’t enjoy reviewing books myself. I find I am either full of far too much praise for the book because I know how difficult it can be to write a book, or I am far too negative about a book because, well, I guess I was just in a bad mood. So instead of reviews, I have pulled some of my favorite quotes from each Sticky Book.

 

 

About the Author

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Dropbox Backup

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I’d like to conclude my WordPress Plugins for Writers series with a FREE! way to backup your site.

If you use Dropbox, you know that your first 2GB of backup storage are free. Many of you probably pay a pro version to get a lot more than that. If so, you’re paranoid like me and mistrustful of technology.

As described in their marketing materials: Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and personal cloud services and access. The Dropbox client enables users to drop any file into a designated folder. The file is then automatically uploaded to Dropbox’s cloud-based service and made available to any other of the user’s computers and devices that also have the Dropbox client installed. Users may also upload files manually through the Dropbox web application.

 

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I use the Backup to Dropbox Plugin to sync my site’s files to my Dropbox account once a week. I think it is worth giving you the caveat that I’ve never had to restore my site from backup. This is important because I can’t really tell you how good the plugin is at disaster recovery when disaster actually strikes. I just want to let you know, if you are paying for another solution, that there is a free tool out there.

That brings me to the end of the series. I hope I have shared at least one or two new tools that have excited you and helped you get the most out of your wordpress site. If you have any questions, please contact me.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

About the Author

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Getting Social

Authors Marketing

Image Courtesy of Rocket Fuel

I’m no guru with social media, but there are two plugins I like and use.

One is Revive Old Post. You set a timer, whether it be three times a day or three times a month, and the plugin tweets a random post, page, or image from your site. Sound silly? It is. It’s delightfully silly. You can customize it to include or exclude certain content.

One thing I like about it is how it keeps the past alive, kind of like Facebook’s “one year ago today” feature. The other thing I like is putting my site on autopilot for awhile. No, disappearing from social media for months is not professional suicide. Despite the hype, social media is just a fun, free(ish) way to self-promote. Kurt Vonnegut (to my knowledge) never once tweeted, and his books are still selling fine.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a month off and have your site random-tweet or random-share on Facebook a post every few days while you were away?

The other plugin I like is the Social Metrics Tracker. I don’t have comments enabled on my website. The main reason is if my website gets very little traffic, and I have a fan post a wonderful review or comment, nobody is going to see it. I’d rather them direct that energy to a more visible forum, such as goodreads, facebook, or twitter.

So when I post, I also immediately share it out to my social media outlets, same as you. And, same as you, I don’t really care about getting comments on my site–my private space. I want to get comments, shares, retweets, out in the highly visible, public spaces of social media.

This plugin is turnkey: Install it and instantly see your top posts ranked by social media engagement. For me, it’s a good way to measure the success of my marketing efforts, but it’s also a good way to discover what seems to work and what doesn’t.

 

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Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

About the Author

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

 

Mailchimp: A Pandora’s Box

mailchimpI’ve read a lot about the importance of building a mailing list. I use Mailchimp, seemingly the king of the hill for small businesses and artists.

This post series is about wordpress plugins, not third party software, so I’ll save a Mailchimp post for later. But if you already use it, then you should get the most out of it by installing the Mailchimp for WordPress Plugin.

While I do not use this plugin to its fullest extent, there is one feature about it that is extremely useful. Earlier, I mentioned that selling your work on your own site had the benefit of harvesting emails. Well, here’s the easiest way to accomplish that.

Inside the Mailchimp Plugin’s settings, there’s an area for third party integrations, and one of the plugins it integrates with is the one from my earlier post, Easy Digital Downloads. If you use EDD to sell your work, you can use Mailchimp Plugin’s settings to create a checkbox that says “subscribe me to your mailing list” and have it default to checked on the EDD checkout page. This sort of cross-plugin cooperation makes your life a lot easier.

 

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The reason I say this opens a Pandora’s box is because the line between promotion and spam is a fine one. If your customer unchecks the mailing list box, but you have their email, do you manually add them anyway?

That’s an ethical question, among many, that you will have to feel out as an indie writer. Mailing list etiquette is all about how best to engage existing and potential fans. How best to do this without running them off? I don’t have the answer. Please, just don’t use this plugin to create a “SUBSCRIBE NOW!” popup box on your home page.

I’ll roll another plugin into this same post because it’s along the same lines. I don’t like Jetpack’s built in email subscriber, so I use the Email Subscribers Plugin. I don’t use this plugin to solicit email addresses on my site, I use Mailchimp instead. However, there are those, like my mother and grandmother, who aren’t the savviest web users, so there are a handful of people I want to “spam” with a link every time I do a blog post, to keep them engaged. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

 

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