By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Tag: self published

Self Published Authors Face Stolen Words

Stolen Words Books

Image Courtesy of www.quoteslike.com

Creative types have always fought for the protection of their creations. Musicians have battled copycat artists stealing their hooks long before Napster made it common place to steal complete songs outright. The movie industry confronts on the regular the selling of shaky bootleg copies of their films from car trunks in back allies. Inventors have feuded with large corporations over patent rights long before the rise of the patent age over the last two decades.

The internet itself has created a whole host of intellectual property issues, from photographs being digitally traded with no recognition of the author, to news stories being repeated sans credit to the originating source, to media conglomerates trying to smack down illegitimate feeds of their broadcast like a futile game of whack-a-mole. I’m sure intellectual property protection was an issue long before the terminology intellectual property came into existence. Hell, people have questioned for centuries whether Shakespeare was in fact one person, or many people, or one person who stole many people’s stories.

So I can’t say it surprised me when I saw The Atlantic’s recent story in the digital edition of its magazine about the outright stealing of the books of self-published authors. It seems just another extension of the ongoing battle creativity fights with the monetization of imagination. But it was a form of plagiarism about which I was not yet aware.

While it didn’t surprise me at all, it did give me pause. As a self-published author myself, I felt for my self-published brethren and sisters that have found themselves in the same situation as Rachel Ann Nunes. The Atlantic does a wonderful job of sharing Nunes’ story, among other stories, and how she found her out-of-print romance novels nearly copied and being sold online by someone else.

While I feel confident that my minuscule novel is most likely safe from this kind of attack, partly because it is minuscule and partly because it is literary fiction, which has a readership the size of  the population of Liechtenstein, I still found myself with palpitations of despair. In a world where newspapers are offered freely, bloggers write wonderful pieces without compensation (Ahem!), and ebooks are called too expensive if they exceed $0.99, it’s nearly impossible for a writer to make any semblance of a living as it is. Add in the fact that people are now stealing our written works outright and, excuse me, but us authors are f*$&@ed.

Again, this doesn’t surprise me–I have not been silent on the matter of how easy (or not) it is to be a “successful” author–but it certainly won’t make my pillow any softer tonight.

“In the world of self-publishing, where anyone can put a document on Amazon and call it a book, more writers are seeing their work ripped off.” – Joy Lanzendorfer, The Atlantic

I believe firmly that the publishing industry will look drastically different in the next 5-10 years. Just as Amazon turned the industry on its head over the last decade, sending the Big Five fearfully curled into a ball on their bedroom floors, we are at the forefront of another changing tide. Self-publishing, digital media, and mobile devices will be the large catalyst for this change, but there are two other issues I think that may have an impact the shifting landscape, and both center around trust.

The first, which I have been saying for a while now, is trusted titles. Publishing a book is so much easier today than it was ten years ago that the Big Five publishers have found themselves in a state of confusion without being appointed the gatekeepers of literature. However, it has become very easy to publish less than quality titles as well. This is reaching a boiling point for readers. We want to know what titles are good, not from a critic standpoint, but from the standpoint of being well-developed and excellently edited. To account for this, I think more and more small-house publishing labels will pop up and will be relied upon as trusted sources of quality titles in their niche genres. Readers will look to certain small-house publishers for their next teen romance or poetic short story or dystopian fantasy or whatever niche genre.

The second is authors’ rights. The larger Amazon’s ebook market share has become, the more comfortable it has felt pinching another penny from its authors. Amazon knows that self-published authors need them more than Amazon needs self-published authors, but that won’t last. It never does.

The Atlantic article’s depiction of Amazon’s almost indifference to suspending or removing copyright offenders wholesale is indicative of this mentality. At some point, a publishing label that support authors’ rights and that wants to help authors succeed in making a living will gain marketshare. They will become a label that indie authors trust and to whom we flock.

I feel a change is coming over the next 5-10 years. I truly do.

Until then, however, let me know if someone is publishing heartfelt stories with thematic ties to the Sorrowful Mysteries.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

The Voices In My Head

short story

 

I am excited that Nothing Any Good can be utilized as a platform not only for assisting writers throughout the writing process and promoting their works, but also as a platform to explore new works from up-and-coming authors. Despite what some might think, I don’t believe writing should always be done in a vacuum. Having a community with whom to share essays, short stories, and musings is a valuable commodity for writers. I’m pleased to bring you Maria Nestorides and this haunting short story.

 

The Voices In My Head

by Maria Nestorides

I startle out of a dreamless sleep and it’s as if I’ve been under water and I’m coming up for air. That deafening silence my earplugs provide, throws me off kilter. Sometimes, when I pull them out of my ears after a night of tossing and turning, it’s like a release from being held captive in my head, in that void of isolation from the outside world. It’s just me and my voices. They argue their positions, quarrel with my logic, urge me to take action, insist they’re right.

I haven’t slept. Not properly, anyway. They’ve kept me up all night and I’m irritated, but I know they’ve been over-agitated because of what day it is today. A feeling swishes around inside me and among the familiar voices I hear one I haven’t heard in a year.

“Mommy,” it says.

And that feeling scales my throat, almost choking me. My arms are limp like the rag doll lying next to me in my bed.

“Today,” I whisper to her, picking her up. “I’ll take you to her today.” The rag doll smiles at me and gives me a little wink. She’s happy she’ll see Claire again. So am I, but I realise I must get up and get moving. I have a big day ahead.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror so I can see my ruddy cheeks. My straw-coloured hair, like the fur of a shaggy dog, flops over my eyes. I smack my lips together. They feel dry. My finger glides over my lips and the sharp eucalyptus scent of my lip balm surrounds me. “Hello, how are you?” I say to myself and it’s as if I’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of voices that flood my head with profanities aimed at me. I’m tired. So tired. But I must find the strength, today of all days.

Great wafts of white breath stream from my nose and mouth. I walk with my coat collar pulled up as far as it will go, my steel-toe boots give me sure footing as the soles grip into the snow like a four-wheel drive. Not very feminine, I know, but then again, the only feminine thing I’ve ever done is give birth to Claire.

“What?” My voice rings out on the near-empty street and people huddled up in their coats scurry away from me, but I’m flustered at how many voices are echoing in my head today. And particularly Claire’s. But, then again, it’s only to be expected she would be speaking to me again today. “I know what to do,” I reply, “don’t keep nagging, you’re making my head hurt.” Laughter rings through my head, almost a cackle, and it conjures up evil feelings in me. I know this evil lurks in me.

Doctor Zinger’s office is warm, and the difference between the temperature outside and in here stifles me. My face must be ruddier than usual now and I pull my turtleneck sweater away from my throat to release the pent-up heat from my body.

“Hey, Dr Zinger,” I reply. “How’s it going? Good, good. Voices? No, no, none.” I shake my head, trying to appear truthful. “These meds really do work.”

Dr Zinger’s eyes: brown, understanding, pitying, mocking, say, I am better than you. Look at me sitting in my ergonomic leather swivel armchair, solving your problems because I can and you can’t. Behold me. His mouth moves. Words I know how to react to are shot out at me and I manoeuvre in the way I have become an expert at, the way I was trained to do back in grad school, swatting some words here, acceding defeat to others, but staying in balance, never winning, but never losing, either. That way I don’t attract too much attention. He would catch on if I did, if I lost or if I won. I would be labelled “uncooperative” or “delusional.” This way, the way I manoeuvre myself, I get away with it. I answer the routine questions, yes, I take my meds every day; yes I feel much better; yes I’m sure if I keep doing everything you tell me to do, Dr Zinger, I will be able to function in society without much difficulty.

“Yep, I take them religiously, exactly the way you told me to, Doc. I’m working today. Yeah, I’ll be driving cross-country. California. No, I don’t have any other issues I want to discuss with you. Except…” His face lights up as if this is the highlight of our session, as if he wants something to be wrong with me. “The company has installed GPS systems in all the trucks.”

And I realise it the moment the words are out of my mouth I’ve given him a prize catch. “No, the GPS system doesn’t bother me, actually.” I try to make a quick save. “I wanted to tell you they’ve installed them and if this had been a year ago, I would have been freaking out, wouldn’t I?” As he nods at me, I want to bludgeon him with the butt of one of the bespoke fishing rods he must have lined up in a custom-built closet at home.

“Yes, I know what day it is today. Claire… Claire… No, it’s okay, I don’t need a tissue. I’m fine. I think I caught cold. There are so many germs going around, even though I spend most of my time alone in the truck. Maybe it’s something I picked up at one of the truck stops. Yes, I’ll be fine. Thank you for everything, Dr Zinger. I’ll see you after I get back. What?” I nod my head. “Yes, I’ll call if I need anything. Thanks again.”

I pull myself up into my truck. I’ve decorated it a little, you know, so it feels somewhat homely when I’m on the road for days. Hanging from the rear-view mirror is one of those cardboard, pine-scented, tree cut-outs. I’ve got a cup holder on the dash right next to the picture of my little girl. It’s the one I gave to the police when they were looking for her, the one I made sure they gave back to me when they didn’t find her, and it’s stuck there with two-sided tape next to an image of Jesus Christ on the cross my mom gave me. My mom always told me Jesus died for me. For me! Imagine that. In the picture, Claire is wearing that blue calico dress her daddy brought back from his trip to Albany. He didn’t bring anything back for me. Only for Claire. I pretended I didn’t mind, but when he wasn’t looking, I put something in his meatloaf that made him very good friends with our toilet basin for a couple of days. I could’ve done worse. I was lenient that time.

I love driving. It’s the only time the voices are quiet. Or at least, quieter. This is a long, icy stretch of road but I’m not worried. I’m a seasoned driver. I’ve driven through some of the most sweltering heat and some of the worst snowstorms this country has ever seen, when we were up to our eyeballs in the fluffy stuff. But it was different back then when it was my truck, the road and me. Sometimes the radio kept me company with a bit of rock n roll. The pure stuff. Nothing like the ‘music’ they play today. Elvis tells me it’s evil and I believe him. Have you heard how much profanity there is in these new ‘songs’ as they like to call them? Half the time there isn’t even anybody singing, there’s somebody talking over the music. Elvis says God will punish them but that’s where he’s wrong, see? I’m tired of waiting for God to do His job. I’m the one who has to take charge of my issues – no one else. Dr Zinger made that clear to me.

The white lane dividers on the highway sweep past one by one and I tap out a rhythm with my fingers on the steering wheel. I can almost feel the GPS beep sending a shock through me with every ping they receive back at base. I’m on the right route. I won’t stray. Like last year. At least I know nobody’s managed to stick a GPS locator anywhere on my body. I know. I’ve checked everywhere. I haven’t been to the dentist in God knows how long, and I don’t have any cavities that have ever been filled. I know fillings are the best place to hide tracking devices. I haven’t been to the gynaecologist since Claire was born. If I get weirded out that someone’s planted one on me while I’m asleep, I hack the skin open there, and dig into the wound with my fingers, just to make sure. Sure, it’s painful, but better to be safe than sorry, I say. Yep I’m pretty sure my body is free of all bugs.

But this truck isn’t. No. That’s why I drove my car up here last weekend. I didn’t want their GPS picking up any stops I’d make with my truck because, let’s face it, they know where I am, where I’m going, where I stop for fuel, how fast I drive, how long I stay in the sleeper, they tell me what route to drive, how many RPMs I can use when I climb a hill, and it goes on and on and on. So I used the Chevy and drove up last weekend. I left it in the parking lot and hitchhiked back. They say hitchhiking is dangerous, but the guy that picked me up was as sweet as honey. I fucked him. You know, as a sort of payment for services rendered. I’m not one to neglect my responsibilities. Not that I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t going to refuse myself a little pleasure. The only trouble is that the voices get worse when I’m on an emotional high, so what with the voices in my head, and the guy moaning, I kept telling him to shut the fuck up. He was a moaner, I’ll tell you that much.

Last year when I drove up with Claire, she sang all the way there, bless her, and I even joined in towards the end. I was happy she was going to be free, at last. Free from all the despondency and disorders of this world. This was not the life I wanted for her. Hell, this wasn’t the life I wanted for me, either.

A spike of pain pierces through my head and it spreads down to the cradle within me that held Claire for nine months. The pain always spreads down, as a reminder that I should never forget. Especially not today. The anniversary of the day she abandoned all earthly cares and joined the angels. I’ve been dreading and anticipating today with a tingle in my belly instead of that dull ache that usually throbs through me.

Not far to go, now. I leave the truck at the truck stop so they won’t be able to track where I’m going and walk a few hundred feet to the parking lot.

There. My little Chevy. I hope it makes it in this snow. It’s never failed me so far. The Chevy feels like a Matchbox car after the truck. I drive for a while until I reach the place and get out.

Gentle flakes of snow fall around me. The sound of each one of my steps echoes through my head. Everything sounds so loud, as if it’s been amplified. I can hear a leaf drop, a drop of water drip down to the ground, the ruffling of my clothes. I put my hands over my ears but it doesn’t make a difference. A bead of sweat lines my upper lip despite the cold. Free! Free! Free! The words echo in my head. The voice sounds squeaky and high-pitched and I realise I’m the one yelling it. My throat stings as the words bubble up from my gut, through my throat, out, into the void expanse of white.

“Shut the fuck up!” scream the voices. I’m used to the hissed profanities in my ear that tell me of my uselessness, my spinelessness.

The place hasn’t changed much since I was here last year. It’s an opening in a clearing in the middle of a wooded area. The kind where you can see the sky if you lie down and look up, past the tall trees that seem to go up forever and caress the sky. I want to ask them to take me up with them. The voices are getting louder. I knew they would. They sense my excitement and they’re excited, too.

I find where Claire is buried.

I remember her expression as the knife pierced through her soft skin, into her belly. I’d read somewhere it’s a sure way to end someone’s life. Her eyes were full of surprise. I think she couldn’t believe she was going to be free at last. She was so grateful to me. She kept calling out ‘Mommy, mommy.’ “Hush Claire, don’t thrash so, you’ll be at peace soon,” I said. I wanted to tell her she didn’t need to thank me, that it was part of a mother’s duty to keep her child’s best interests in mind. She made the snow so beautiful, with that deep crimson flow from her body. Beautiful. There is such beauty in nature, but you just have to know where to look and you have to have the courage to release it. It’s not easy being brave. Ask me, I know.

I pull the same hunting knife from my belt now. It’s grown warm close to my body and I position it so it’s facing inwards towards my own belly. I’m surprised at how much strength I need to thrust the knife inside me. My body is a lot tougher than Claire’s. The voices sound delirious now. They are ecstatic, laughing and celebrating. I am too. I’m going to be with Claire today. I feel the warmth flowing from me and soon there is another beautiful creation in the snow. I scrape my fingers through the crimson surge, mixing my blood with the white snow. It’s a work of art. The cold grasps me by the throat, squeezes me until I can’t feel it any more. Until I’m floating next to the tree tops and I can see myself lying on the cold, snowy ground, my arms spread out as I lie face down in the pure white, and I hug the place where I laid my little Claire to eternal rest.

I repeat the last words I spoke to her. “Hush Claire, don’t thrash so, you’ll be at peace soon.”

And so will I.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

About the Author

Maria Nestorides lives in sunny Cyprus with her husband and two teenage children. Her short stories have been published online at The Story Shack Magazine  and also on InkittMaria also contributed a memoir to the book Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser. You can find Maria on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

 

Interview with P. Zoro

Indie AuthorI am very pleased to have P. Zoro joining us. In the short history of Nothing Any Good, we have had the privilege of interviewing wonderful authors from the UK, Texas, and Australia. Now we can Africa to our list.

P. is the author of The Sleeping Pool and Shadows, Darkness and Light. She is our first African author interviewed at Nothing Any Good and she hails from wonderful Zimbabwe.

The lovely Ms. Zoro once told me that my book (Pieces Like Pottery) would have been something she would have written if she were on this side of the world, and Shadows, Darkness and Light would have been something I had written if I were on her side of the world. I found this to be such a beautiful sentiment.

Welcome P.!

Thank you so much Dan. I feel honoured.

 

Since I have Engineering and Law degrees, I have to ask: How in the world is someone with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Business Studies writing such beautiful literature?

Aah. You’re too kind. If I had the opportunity I would have done something in Creative Writing or filming. But back then when we were choosing careers, and I think even up to today, in our country one couldn’t really think of writing as a career. It was something that you did as a hobby. I started writing poems and plays at a tender age and never stopped. At some point I even won the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition, then I forgot all about it to concentrate on my ‘acceptable’ career. But there comes a point in life when the real you cannot be kept in prison anymore and you just have to be yourself. Writing is something I love to do. During the day I run a family owned ICT business. So it is a workable compromise.

 

I suspect that many of my readers have not read many (any?) African authors. Help us understand what the climate for writing is like for you in Zimbabwe. Is there a large writer community? Do you find a lot of author resources available to you in your local communities?

I have had limited opportunities to meet other local writers but I intend to join the local Writers’ Association and remedy that. However, I meet writers from all over the world through social media, writing groups and Goodreads and have made some lifetime friendships with people I would never have known.

There is support by some international organisations for literature and other forms of art. However there is a huge piracy conspiracy by street vendors that make publishing in print a mockery. One remains a writer for the love of writing.

We have learnt to open up to the world and interact with the global writing community so that we take our writing to another level. You will find Zimbabweans winning international awards, writing on online journals and taking advantage of self-publishing.

Most of what I have learnt about writing, marketing , social media and social media has done on the web.

 

“There is a huge piracy conspiracy by street vendors [in Africa] that make publishing in print a mockery. One remains a writer for the love of writing.”

You say that writing is not considered a career there locally. Do people in your community or the larger country look down on writers? Is it something that is shunned?

The monetary rewards are not something that can make somebody leave her day job, unless they are living in the diaspora and they are published by an international publisher or win one of the awards that make their work more visible.
But people appreciate literary and other forms of art very well. They celebrate any author who scores some form of success. That is why we know who got what awards and who has launched a new book. Even our local papers reserve space for literary review and highlights. It’s just that it is not a paying hobby if you haven’t made it big. 

 

You talk a lot about the “mystical world” we live in. What do you mean when you refer to this?

Africa inspires a lot of spiritual mystery, fascination and awe. One cannot help but be mesmerised by its wildness, its wonderful people of diverse cultures and languages and the natural wonders all around us. It is enough inspiration for a writer to put pen to paper and attempt to capture some of this forever before is disappears like a mist. I have no doubt a visit to Zimbabwe and a tour of some of our famous tourist destinations would do wonders to any author with a writer’s block.

Our mystical world is just inspirational. It begs for you to tell a story about it. This has inspired the Destination Series of which The Sleeping Pool is the first book. The Sleeping Pool II will be out in May. The third called The Blinking Eye will be out by the end of the year. It is set in Mauritania. Then I will go to the next African country until there is a book on the series for every African country.

 

“I have no doubt a visit to Zimbabwe and a tour of some of our famous tourist destinations would do wonders to any author with a writer’s block.”

In your stories you tend to focus on female protagonists. I tend to think that we have far too few female authors and just as few female protagonists. Where do you think the state of female authors and heroines is right now?

From my part of the world, female authors have their share of international success. Talk of Tsitsi Dangarembga, NoViolet Bulawayo, Alexandra Fuller, Yvonne Vera, Petinah Gappah, Catherine Buckle, Lauren Liebenberg, J. Nozipo Maraire, Elinor Sisulu and many more who are linked to Zimbabwe one way or the other. But their number is far too limited.

There is a general tendency to feature men as protagonists in books but the rise of the strong female character is unstoppable. Female authors and heroines are making progress towards acceptance and recognition, although the female author’s acceptance started off earlier than the female protagonist. The latter will eventually catch up.

 

This still strikes me as odd in the current environment of indie publishing, though, particularly because women purchase 60%–65% of all books. Why do you think this is? Is it just another ramification of patriarchal society?

I think to an extent that might be true. Society has imprinted it on our minds the hero must be a man. In a romantic setting he has to be a billionaire, drive a limo and be ruthless. In an action and adventure he has to be a clever survivor. In a war film he is the soldier at the battle front. But like I said the woman is being recognised for her part that has been ignored but is increasingly being recognised for what it is – an immense contribution to the existence of humanity. Be it in the home, taking care of the sick, managing the family’s finances and so forth. There is a hero in every women who deserves to be sung abut and celebrated as such.

 

Speaking of patriarchal society, a lot of your writing focuses on the pain women endure, often times at the hands of, or due to the ignorance of, men. One reviewer even commented that he thought you were writing anti-male propaganda pieces. How have you found your stories to be received? Do you find a lot of males insulted by your stories?

Shadows, Darkness and Light is a collection with women’s daily emotional struggles as the main theme. I might do a collection with a different theme altogether one day. But as it is, this collection focuses on women in different circumstances. The stories are as close to real life as one can get in fiction. They have happened and are still happening to some woman in this country. My reviewer enjoyed the stories but wished I could include more stories that showed women’s problems as coming from another source besides men. I am currently writing three more stories that will eventually be added to that collection and I have taken into consideration his wishes in two of them. But he did enjoy my stories and I am grateful for a happy reader.

The book has been well received by both sexes and the reviews are quite encouraging.

 

I admire you and I am grateful that you have shared some of your life experiences with us in the form of fictional narratives.

Thank you Dan. I hope everyone who reads the stories goes through the emotional journey with my protagonists and understands them better. There is a hero in every woman and this is just her time to shine.

 

Thank you for your time, P.! It has been a pleasure. If you have a question for P., put it in the comments section below. 

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Indie authorAuthor Bio

Author of The Destination Series, an ambitious project aiming to have one book on every African country. The first book is the series, The Sleeping Pool, is set in Zimbabwe. Her short story collection Shadows, Darkness and Light is an expository of the heroic emotional struggles faced by women in Africa. The first story in the collection titled Shadows In The Darkness will appear in the acclaimed Kalahari Review of South Africa this February.

She is currently finishing the second book in the series The Sleeping Pool II and working on The Blinking Eye, the third book in the series set in Mauritania. Besides writing and reading, not necessarily in that order, she loves cooking and baking. She lives in Zimbabwe with her husband Simbarashe and their five sons.

 

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