Tag Archives: authors

The Importance Of Book Reviews

A post by Chris Graham, (AKA The Story Reading Ape), on the importance of leaving reviews, https://wp.me/p3mGq7-yfz.

I am always grateful when a reader takes the time to leave a review of one of my books on Amazon, Goodreads or their own website.

It gave me tremendous pleasure when, during Christmas 2019, a reader contacted me by email and told me that she had enjoyed my “Selected Poems”, and that I had inspired her to write. So, yes, reviews are important to authors.

Writers and Free Speech

In “A Letter On Justice And Open Debate” https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/, the authors JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood (amongst many other authors and academics), speak out against what they label as “cancel culture”. They condemn the growing tendency to silence (or attempt to silence) those who express opinions which offend particular groups or individuals. And argue that the best way to deal with views with which one disagrees is by engaging in free and open debate, rather than attempting to silence those expressing such opinions.

The letter has provoked controversy. Take, for example this response from a WordPress blogger:

“there is no such thing as cancel culture. This is fans deciding they do not want to associate with sexist, racist, ableist, bigoted authors/artists/what have you, and deciding to not purchase future works from them.

It is also not censorship because the government is not coming in and forcing these authors to remove their books from store shelves or anything like that. Fans are simply refusing to support these artists anymore. Publishers have that same right. So do booksellers.” (see https://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/cancel-culture/).

Whilst the blogger is correct that the government is not forcing anyone to stop stocking, publishing or buying books and/or expressing certain opinions, the fact that some authors are, for example removing their books from JK Rowling’s publisher is intended to put pressure on said publisher to stop publishing Rowling’s works. The publisher has (quite rightly) not bowed to such pressure. However, where they to do so, this could have the effect of depriving Rowling (or anyone else who expresses a controversial opinion) of their source of income. Sure someone as famous as JK Rowling would, in all probability find another publisher, but what about lesser known writers? In the latter case such people might well be deprived of their source of income. Depriving someone of their (legal) source of income is a big thing to have on one’s conscience is it not?

I do, of course defend the right of people to spend their income as they wish, and withdraw their books from particular publishers, for we live in a free society. However, actively calling for others to boycott the works of particular people (merely because one disagrees with something they have said) can very easily spill over into bullying. Society (or a section of it) does not possess the power to censor and/or ban opinions. It can, however create a climate in which authors (and others) fear opening their mouths in case they offend a particular group or individual. This is a very unhealthy state of affairs.

I have been told by one particular blogger (via a comment on their blog) to “educate myself”, as I expressed an opinion with which they took issue. My readers wont be surprised to learn that my response (had I voiced it, which I did not) would have been unprintable! The blogger in question was, of course perfectly entitled to their opinion (as am I). however telling people to “educate themselves” is not the best way to gain friends and influence people. Such statements come across as arrogant and are not the best way of encouraging free and open debate.

An acquaintence told me that he was thinking of writing a book on HIV/AIDS. The main character in his novel would be gay and HIV positive. However, my acquaintence (not himself being gay) was worried that where he to write his novel he would be castigated for writing about a subject of which he has no (direct) personal experience. Consequently that book will, in all probability never get written.

Of course when one writes or speaks about a subject about which one has no direct experience, one should be sure to do research prior to doing so. However, if someone wants to make a fool of themselves by writing a poorly researched book, or speaking on a subject with little knowledge of said subject, they have the right so to do. Of course we the reader/listner have the perfect right to point out their errors. Indeed it may be our duty to do so. But what neither the state nor society should do is to call for poorly researched books to be banned. Nor should either the state or society prevent people from expressing offensive opinions.

The advocacy of violence to achieve political or other ends is a criminal matter and anyone advocating it’s use should feel the full force of the law. However disagreeing with someone is not violence and its dangerous when people contend that the expression of measured opinion constitutes violence. As someone who is disabled (I am registered blind) I would be offended where someone to say that disabled people have no right to be employed, and that all anti-discrimination legislation should be repealed, leaving it to the discretion of employers whether to employ the disabled. However me finding this view particularly objectionable does not mean that the person expressing it has committed an act of violence. They have not. They have expressed an opinion which, in a democratic society they are perfectly entitled to do, and the best way of me dealing with their perspective is to argue against it. I may feel angry but the person has done no violence to me and I should not hound them on social media, nor should I call for them to be deprived of their source of income.

We live in a liberal society and long may we continue to do so.

In Defence of “Said”\

A spirited defence of the use of the word “said”, for which I have considerable sympathy, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/10/literary-value-ten-cent-word-maura-roan-mckeegan.html.

Whilst it is, of course, good practice to use alternative words for “said” where appropriate, in many instances this simple, 4 letter word is the best choice for writers.

As always, I would be interested in the views of my readers.

Kevin

The British Library Explores The History Of Writing

From tomorrow (Friday 26 April), the British Library will be hosting an exhibition concerning the history of writing. The exhibits include an ancient egyptian tablet which demonstrates that concerns about the quality of homework are far from being new! It also shows that worries regarding the decline in hand-writing are not confined to the 21st century. For more information please visit, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/24/living-by-the-pen-british-library-explores-history-of-writing.

Kevin

One Day

“One Day” originally appeared here in 2015, https://kmorrispoet.com/2015/12/23/one-day/. A friend subsequently commented to me (in person, not on this blog), that the poem could equally apply to both readers and writers. He had a point. However I had writers/authors in mind when I penned the piece, hence my poem stands as originally written.

Kevin

The Role Of The Literary Agent

This week “The Bottom Line”, on BBC Radio 4 examines the role of agents (literary and otherwise). The information on the BBC’s website reads as follows:

“This week the programme looks at the business of agents. What exactly do they do and are they adding value to their clients’ careers? Evan Davis discusses their role with three agents from the worlds of showbusiness, football and books. …”.

To listen to the programme please visit, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09b0wbl.

The creative writing debate continued

On 4 April, I published a post entitled “Is there any benefit in studying creative writing?”, (https://newauthoronline.com/2017/04/04/is-there-any-benefit-in-studying-creative-writing/).

In that article I expressed scepticism as to whether studying creative writing can produce people who can, actually write poetry and prose. In my view creative writing courses may help to develop talent. They can not, however turn those who possess no talent for writing into people who can produce meaningful poetry or prose.

My previous post on this subject generated a very interesting debate which, at times got somewhat heated. The comments received caused me to carry out further research on the subject of creative writing. In the course of this research I came across the following article, in “The Guardian”, in which (the newspaper reports), creative writing Professor Hanif Kureishi questions the validity of creative writing. Unsurprisingly the article created considerable debate, both for and against the perspective attributed to Kureishi. Both the article (and the comments following on from it) are well worth reading. For the article please visit: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/04/creative-writing-courses-waste-of-time-hanif-kureishi.

Be The One!

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Children are malleable and therefore can be influenced greatly by their parents, siblings, teachers, and other people in their lives.

It’s important to be a good role model and to encourage good behavior so that they grow up to be productive citizens of society. But, we’re not just trying to raise productive citizens, are we? No, we are raising children to be adults who can think for themselves, are independent people, and are influencers in the world. We don’t want to raise automotons, we want our children to be all they can be! (I’m making an assumption here, but I hope you agree).

I believe the single most important thing that makes a child grow up to be all they can be vs. one that doesn’t, is love. That may seem over-simplified and to a point, it is. However, I can say both from a professional standpoint and a personal one that even when a child lives in a toxic environment, if they know they are loved, they fare much better.

I’m a Guidance Counselor in a High School and I hold a license in Mental Health Counseling. I’ve seen my share of people who have been hurt by other people. When counseling a client who had been abused or abandoned or both or worse, if they had one person in their life that loved them (even if that love was imperfect), they had a better chance of healing and overcoming their pain than those who didn’t have that in their life.

I want to encourage you today to be that one person! Be the one person that makes a difference in a child’s life. You will not only be doing that child a favor, you will be doing the world a favor. We need children to know they are loved so they can grow up and be all they can be—making the world a better place for us all.

We know that if you are authentically you, if you follow your passion, if you fulfill your destiny—you add to the greatness of this world! If a child feels loved, they will be able to be authentic, find their passion and follow their destiny. Show love today!

Wanda Luthman

Children’s Author

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Growing children of character through quality literature

www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com

My children’s books are available on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/wandaluthman in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Would you like to guest post on Newauthoronline?

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I am very happy to publish guest posts on newauthoronline.com.

If you are interested in guest posting, please read the guidance linked to here prior to getting in touch, https://newauthoronline.com/guest-post-submissions/

I look forward to hosting you.

Kevin

The Decision

“I haven’t done this kind of thing before. I mean girls from my background do sometimes. I know they do, but it’s not kind of a normal thing to do is it? I know other girls do it but, really I’m not sure …”, she said, conscious of repeating herself.
The girl leant forward on the hotel barstool, her stillettos clicking against it as she did so.
“There is a first time for everything”, he said trying not to be overt in his admiration of those slim bare legs. “Why not give it a go, I’ve never had anyone regret it afterwards?”

“Oh I don’t know. What will my friends think of me? As I just told you, girls don’t usually do this kind of thing. Well girls like me that is”. She said staring nervously at the money on the bar.
“Go on, you know you want to”, the man replied giving what he hoped was an encouraging smile.
“Well … as you say my friends don’t need to know and I’m an open minded kind of girl, always up for trying new things. No one is watching are they?” she said glancing around the practically empty bar.
“No, no, no one is looking at us. Now is as good a time as any if you want to go through with it”, he said, glancing at her tiny, perfectly manicured fingers as they played nervously with the cash on the bar.
“OK, I’ve made a decision”, she said picking up the money and, glancing around for one final time handing it to her companion. “I like what I’ve seen so, yes I’ll buy your book. Will you sign it for me?”, she asked smiling shyly …