Last week, authors logging into the Parliament House Press Facebook group found a surprise announcement: Parliament House had a new owner, and a host of other changes were in store.
In its current form, Parliament House Press will be dissolved due to a combination of personal and economic considerations from our founder, Shayne Leighton. Shayne has spearheaded the publisher since 2016 and has been a force in bringing this small indie press to a larger stage. Shayne will continue to work with our team in a design capacity. In her stead, Malorie Nilson will take over as the CEO of a reincorporated Parliament House Press. Business will continue uninterrupted, but several essential changes will transpire during this transition.
All existing author contracts will be dissolved and replaced with new contracts, as is required by law, but there will be no interruptions to the day-to-day functions of the house. Unfortunately, due to the increasingly competitive landscape of the industry, we will not be able to offer contracts to all existing authors. Many of our current projects were brought on under a different team and different leadership, forcing us to take stock of where we are and what we are able to accomplish. We want all our authors to be successful, including those who will no longer be with us. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to serve the entirety of our catalog, so we are forced to downsize to ensure that we can give every book the attention it deserves. If you are not offered a new contract, please know that it is not because we don’t love your work, but rather that we do not have the capacity to give everyone the attention and care they deserve. We are working hard to bring more opportunities to our authors, which means narrowing our enterprise’s scope.
We will continue our partnership with IPG for digital distribution, as well as our work with the Seymour Agency to sell subsidiary rights. Furthermore, we will be moving our entire print catalog to Ingram, which will give brick and mortar stores the ability to purchase books through Ingram’s distribution program. Finally, we have revised our contracts to align with industry standards as we begin working more closely with literary agents for future acquisitions. As we invite authors back to the Parliament House Press, we will review the new contracts with you (which we have updated to reflect industry standard for royalties and terms) to ensure that each of you is comfortable moving forward. Of course, with the dissolution of the existing contracts, you are free to part ways with the Parliament House Press and seek other opportunities if you wish.
The abrupt announcement was a shock. But it didn’t come entirely out of the blue.
Founded in 2016 by Shayne Leighton and Chantal Gadoury, Parliament House Press (PHP) is “a small traditional publisher, working with authors to produce brilliantly bizarre, original, and moving stories with an edge.” It has better-than-average distribution via the Independent Publishers Group, and its subsidiary rights are represented by the Seymour Agency.
Brand awareness refers to people’s ability to recognize you and your creative work. It is the very first step in your marketing funnel. Brand awareness also helps you achieve your goals as an author by expanding your target audience, building brand affinity, and improving brand identity.In this guest post, Andre Oentoro simplifies the process of using YouTube videos to grow awareness for your author brand and business.
Brand awareness is very important for any author because it not only entices readers to buy your book but also keeps them coming back for more.
People are more likely to buy goods or use services from a business that they trust and as an author, your ‘business’ is no exception.
Your brand – how people perceive you and your creative work – is one of the first things that will draw readers in when they are searching for a solution to a problem they have or to fulfill an experience they desire.
In addition, if their experience with your brand is enjoyable, they are more likely to tell other people about your work which helps spread the word, further increasing your visibility and reach.
So, how can you build your brand awareness, and what is the best platform?
According to this post by Ahrefs.com, YouTube is the most visited website in the past few years. It is also the second-largest search engine, proving that people are crazy about video content.
Anyone and everyone has the opportunity to entertain, engage, and rank.–Ahrefs
YouTube videos get good rankings on Google searches because Google has owned YouTube since 2006. This will certainly provide a huge opportunity for you to get noticed, to be known more widely in your topic area or genre, and thus help you increase brand awareness.
If you’re writing a conversation between two or more characters, you may run into the issue of characters talking at the same time. This is an easy thing to pull off in a TV show or a movie, but slightly trickier in a novel or a short story, so I thought I’d address it!
(By the way, I’m going to share a related post next week on how to write a great, believable argument between two characters. If you don’t want to miss it, be sure you’re subscribed to the blog—there’s a signup on the lefthand side of this page.)
Let’s look at some examples. You’ll notice that the solution to this issue usually involves just telling the reader that the characters are talking at the same time.
April 14, 2022 I published the first part of this blog post series, on April 28, and the second part followed. The third part was published May 26, 2022, part #4 was published July 11, 2022 and Part 5 you can read here since July 25, 2022, part 6 I published August 11, 2022, and this one here will be the last part in this series. This blog post series talks about the best part of telling a story. There are so many good parts, to me, each holds its own appeal. Let’s have a look at them once more:
1. Drafting the plot
2. Finding a motive
3. Creating the protagonist and antagonist
4. Finding the perfect location
5. Thinking of plot twists
6. Create side characters
[7. Depending on the story, maybe even create a world]
Today we are trying to determine how much fun creating a world is…
I’m writing a mix of Fantasy and Paranormal Romance with my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series. That means, creating worlds isn’t (yet) a big part of my writing skills. The ‘Council members and their consorts are splitting their time between Heaven, Earth, and Hell.
We all know Earth, and many of us know Heaven and Hell exist, but nobody alive has ever seen either one, which means, I can ‘create’ the part that exists differently in each of our imaginations.
Does Hell look like a vast mine with a fire in the middle and everybody down there is either dancing around the flames, or shoveling coal? Not in my imagination… Not even the inferno part, which is only one area of hell. Another site, for example, has been reserved for the houses, palaces, and castles of the Hellish-Elite residents, in my books, it’s the Demon Kings and the self-proclaimed ‘Emperor of the Nine Thrones Of Hell’, Lucifer. Needless to say, despite the fact he built his palace himself, he still doesn’t like it. ‘Not homey enough’, as he says. And he doesn’t like the constant twilight in Hell. There’s neither night nor day, no light or sunshine… It’s just constantly pale and gray, with the occasional foggy day, mostly, when Lillith is cooking.
Heaven is another part of my imagination, all light, sunshine, green pastures, forests, walkways, troop housing, and areas for the angels to live in… formerly there were ‘towers’ with penthouse lofts, where the Archangels lived. But since they practiced an ‘open door’ policy, it got too much to be disturbed at any given time, and with their ‘Creator’s’permission, they moved out and built their own area, precisely twelve breathtaking houses, where they live with their consorts (or alone), depending on their state of a relationship.
Is this ‘creating a world’? Not in my opinion… I’m just ‘extending’ what is already there, just the way I dream it could be perfect for me.
There are far more experienced writers in world-building than I am!
One of them, one of the ‘ultimate’ best examples, is, of course, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, author of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ books, and the famous creator of ‘Middle Earth’.
All that, in my opinion, is the epitome of ‘fun’, but I could imagine, it wasn’t all ‘fun’ for him, all the time. It needs an enormous amount of work, concentration, imagination, fantasy, but most of all, skill, to go over this kind of length for the readers.
Of course, the success proves him right! Until this day, his books and stories are of enormous success and incomparable. He has my utmost respect and admiration.
But that doesn’t mean, there aren’t other highly skilled and talented writers and world creators around!
Let us hear your experience, please, in the comments! Tell us, where the fun is, and where the difficulties are! We are curious!
It was 1925 in New York. I just walked out of the theater where I watched the film premiere of ‘Ben Hur’. You’re now going to say, ‘Wait, wait, wait! Ben Hur was released in November 1959!” Yes, and no. Ben Hur with Charlton Heston was the 1959 movie. But there has been an earlier movie with Ramon Novarro as the leading actor… and that was the movie I went to see.
I always liked Ramon Novarro, an excellent silent movie actor. But I was a bit disappointed by this role. He didn’t seem to be a great fit for the Prince of Hur… however, I’m not a film critic, in fact, I’m just a fan who likes to watch movies… no… my profession is another one.
I didn’t feel my best that day and actually didn’t even feel like going. But my friends and brothers talked me into it, and to get them off my back, I finally decided to take a short trip to New York. *chuckle*
That might be a weird thing for you, to ‘read’ me chuckle, when I say ‘short trip’. We winged individuals travel a bit differently than you humans. But let’s get back to 1925…
It was December 30, almost the last day of the year… people in the movie theater were thoughtful after the movie… in good spirits, but thoughtful. I was lost in my own thoughts, mostly, if I remember correctly, I was suffering from a small heartache, after my last girlfriend’s breakup. I should have been used to that by now, I know. Being with one of the ‘Council of Twelve’ members isn’t an easy task. We don’t have much time for our love interests, we do expect a lot, but don’t give much back, but most of all, we are too powerful for women to feel comfortable in our presence for a longer period of time.
And then, a few streets further away, when I was looking for a quiet hidden corner to ‘dissolve’, I discovered a woman, desperately trying to escape from a man who followed her, laughing… I didn’t see the lady’s face, but I could sense and taste her fear. She was in a panic.
Within only a second I teleported ahead of the lady, waited for a moment, and then surrounded the corner of the building, to let the now panting lady bump into me.
The man stopped immediately and stood still like a rock while I carefully comforted the sobbing woman in my arms. When the man looked up, one of the weak street lanterns permitted me a good look at his face. I knew him… He was a nightmarish individual with no conscience whatsoever, one of the most dangerous predators in existence… He was absolutely ruthless, sadistic, and generally evil. It was time he got off the streets. The man was a serial killer. I wondered idly, where law enforcement was when you needed them.
I didn’t hesitate long. He might hunt for helpless ladies, but he seemed to be well trained, and overconfident in his own abilities, and I felt like swiping the smug grin off his face.
I released the woman’s hands from my coat, where they had cramped the fabric, and carefully lifted her chin. “Go home, child.” I softly said. “All is good. No harm will befall you, I promise.” She smiled… I knew what effect I had on victims, and these few words were all she needed. Her eyes were dreamy when she left us…
The man stared at me. “Why did you have to come along and interfere? It was not upon you to get in between my wife and me.” I looked at my fingernails. “We both know, she’s not your wife, Gaston.” I had to say, he kept his smug smile, but other than a slight widening of his nostrils, nothing betrayed his surprise.
He chuckled. “Why don’t you and I make sure something like this doesn’t happen ever again, pal?” Gaston asked. And I smiled… My brothers in the Council of Twelve would have known that was a very, very bad sign. But this human had no idea. I knew, he was up for a fight, and nothing would satisfy him more at this moment, than showing me his physical superiority. My shoulders slightly slumped, my entire form shrunk a bit, and I took a well-calculated step back. “N…no. I don’t think so. Also… I have to leave…”
He took a brave step closer, and then another one… when my fist collided with his nose. Blood splashed down his face and I sighed softly. “Hurts, doesn’t it?” He had instinctively clutched his nose; when he now pulled it away, blood was dripping from his fingers. “Are you out of your mind?” He screamed. Furiously he pulled a handgun and pointed it at me…
And that was the second, I decided to show him, who he was dealing with…
My wordly attire disappeared, I wore leatherpants and a white silk shirt, boots on my feet, and my hat was gone… but, of course, what left Gaston frozen in shock and fear, were a pair of huge, white, black speckled wings, similar to the one of a Snowy Owl.
He screamed in fear, and blinded, he sank to the floor, the revolver had fallen out of his hand… crying he begged: “Please… please, don’t kill me! I will do whatever you want.”
I grinned. “That you will anyway. And I won’t have to kill you. You’re already dead.” He clearly struggled to understand what I said to him. “W…what?” He finally seemed to grasp the point. “Does that mean, I’m going to Heaven now?” I had a blast with this one. It took all my control not to laugh loudly. I only shook my head. “No, Gaston. The way up is not yours. You’re traveling into the other direction.” He seemed confused again. “But… but…” I smiled and pointed behind him… “Here comes your escort.”
He swung around, and there they stood, three giant, strange looking creatures, horned, unusually deformed, dressed in dark attires, armed with swords and sickles… Gaston howled. “No… no… no! Protect me!” I laughed. “No way. You’ll get what you deserve. Eternal torture, inferno, emptiness… Whatever you fear, it will be yours.”
There was nothing he could do. He tried to run for it, but the three collectors were faster. They grabbed his spirit and dragged him through the dimensional portal behind him. When the crossover had closed, Two of my friends landed next to me… Centriel and Zachariel. Both shook their heads. “Really, Gabriel. You can’t even go to a movie theater without getting into trouble.” Centriel said. I nodded and sighed again. “It seems very much trouble finds me.”
Zachariel clapped my shoulder. “Let’s go home, brother. Dinner at Tsechirel’s place, and I want to introduce a very cute little Guardian to you.” I smiled. “Thank you… just what I need now…” Within only a few seconds, we were on our way…
Is your computer screen literally taking your breath away? It’s possible that you are holding your breath while using your computer, without even knowing it. Some people hold their breath while reading emails or messages, some others, during typing, and neither of them knows what they’re doing, or even, that they are suffering from irregular breathing.
You are not alone! We are talking about Screen Apnea.
What exactly is it?
What is screen apnea?
Screen apnea is the temporary cessation of breath or shallow breathing while sitting in front of a screen, whether a computer, a mobile device, or a television.
Studies have shown that over 80% of users suffer from Screen apnea without knowing it. And it’s unhealthy! I went into my personal investigation and found a few things online. What is the problem with shallow breathing?
According to ‘rubmassage.com.au‘ Dr Russell Greenfield believes that over time SA can: · Disrupt your sleep. · Lower your energy levels · Interfere with you ability to think quickly and focus. · Lead to mood disorders like depression or anxiety. · Increase stress related disease.
“Screen apnea alters your bodies delicate balance of glasses like oxygen, nitric oxide and carbon dioxide.” Says Greenfield. “ This can cause inflammation and interfere with your immune system’s ability to fight infection.” Amongst a host of other things. (Source: rubmassage.com.au)
‘Forbes.com’ takes it even further. Most Americans sitting on the computer, or in a car, do that on an average of 10 hours a day, while eating regularly, and moving far too little. Many Americans aren’t aware that getting up, stretching and moving around will reduce stress and take pressure off your body. As many as 40% of the Americans who like being glued to their chair follow the advice of the late comedian Joan Rivers, who said, “I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, He would’ve put diamonds on the floor.”
Chronic breath holding can harm your health, lead to exhaustion and compromise your work performance. Prolonged sitting in front of your screen has been described as “the new smoking.” (Source: Forbes.com)
Now, what can we do about it? Rubmassage.com, Forbes.com, and an additional source, YogaInternational.com, agree on the treatments of screen apnea:
1. Notice when you aren’t breathing. Check in every so often and take some long vagus-nerve (our primary parasympathetic nerve) stimulating exhalations that last longer than your inhalations. Try humming your breath out, count a long exhale, or useujjayi breath to extend your exhalation.
2. Look beyond the screen from time to time, even if you’re glued to it for work. Try not to distract yourself with another screen when you do this, like your television. You’ll probably find yourself taking easier breaths.
3. Get up and move/express yourself. Dance, vocalize, do simple stretches, take a walk. These are natural easers for the breath.
4. Explore breathing practices that don’t involve breath retention and keep conditioning your breath to maintain a smooth, even, continuous flow; try brahmari(humming breath). Place more emphasis on how your breath feels in the moment than how you think you “should” make it behave. Focus only on breathing a few times during the day.
5. Put your phone on airplane mode every now and then, or turn off work notifications after work hours.
Chances are screen apnea causes you to use your shoulders instead of your diaphragm to move air in and out of your lungs. You might even stop breathing or hold your breath and not even realize it. Natural abdominal breathing from your abdomen sends additional oxygen to your brain and activates your parasympathetic system (your rest-and-digest response which offsets your stress response). Notice your breathing right now. Do your breaths come from high in your chest or deep in your abdomen? Are they fast or slow? If you’re aware of shallow breathing higher up in your chest, practice abdominal breathing. Take several deep breaths so that your diaphragm flattens downward, pushing the muscles in the abdominal cavity upward, creating more space in the chest so your lungs can fill up. You can’t get as worked up if you force yourself to breathe deeply. Your body can’t maintain the same level of stress with the extra oxygen you get in your bloodstream when you breathe from your abdomen
Statistics show that just moving around can cut your risk of sudden cardiac arrest by 92%, so don’t park it for too long. When you get moving, physical tension and mental stress melt away, and the solution to a mulled-over problem becomes crystal clear. Experts say being on your feet at your desk instead of sitting can help. Simply not sitting gives you the benefits of exercise.
Stand up, breathe deeply, shake, twist, and stretch out the built-up tension. Take a few seconds to reach high. Let yourself feel the stretch as you elongate your body and notice where you hold tension then release it. Shake the part of your body where you sense tension. As you continue to stretch, bring your attention to each part of your body that has remained tight. Bend over and touch your toes and feel that stretch letting the tension in your body evaporate.
You can improve your breathing and posture right at your desk in the very chair you’re in as long as it has a back. Sitting in your chair, inhale and raise your arms toward the ceiling. Let your shoulder blades slide down your back as you reach upward with your fingertips. Anchor your sit bones in your seat and reach up from there. Place your left hand over on your right knee. Place your right arm on the back of the chair. Stretch lightly for sixty seconds with eyes open or closed. Notice the stretch and what happens inside. After sixty seconds, bring your body back to center. Then reverse the stretch. Place your right hand over your left knee. Put your left arm on the back of the chair for another sixty seconds. Stretch lightly again with eyes open or closed. Pay attention to the stretch, and notice what happens inside. After three to five minutes of repeating this exercise, you will notice better breathing, a renewed energy and improved mental clarity.
Take An ‘Awe Walk’
An “Awe walk”—a stroll in nature where you intentionally shift your attention outward to the natural environment instead of inward—is a great remedy for screen apnea. Not only does it get you up and moving and improve your breathing, it also clears your mind and gives you a sense of awe from the natural surroundings. So, you’re not thinking about the tight deadline, the unfinished project or the strain in your relationship with your boss. A new study published in the journal Emotion found that a regular dose of awe reduces your stress and boosts your mental health. An awe walk gets your blood circulating and restores your breathing to its natural rhythm.
Screen Glow And Blue-Light Glasses
Most of the technology we commonly use—such as computer screens, smartphones and tablets—emits blue light, which past research has found can disrupt sleep. Workers have become more dependent on these devices, especially as we navigate remote work and school during the coronavirus pandemic. The media have recently reported on the benefits of blue-light glasses for those spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen. This new research extends understanding of the circadian rhythm, a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. New research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that wearing blue-light glasses just before sleeping can lead to a better night’s sleep, better career decision-making and contribute to a better day’s work productivity.
The 20-20-20 Rule
Using the 20-20-20 rule can help you prevent screen apnea. The rule says that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you take a 20 second break, move around and look at something 20 feet away, which relaxes the eye muscles for 20 seconds and gives your brain a much-needed respite. Here’s how the rule works: Set an alarm or time popup for every 20 minutes when you’re working in front of a screen as a reminder to get up from your workstation, deep breathe and stretch. It takes 20 seconds for your eyes to fully relax. Every 20 minutes for 20 seconds walk around the room, hydrate yourself, close your eyes or look out a window—perhaps at a tree, squirrel or some aspect of nature. Take off your shoes and dig your toes into the carpet for 20 seconds. And you’re ready to get back to your screen for another 20 minutes.
It’s important that you take care of yourself, no matter where your work takes you. The COVID pandemic has had an enormous influence on our computer/screen behavior and severely limited our free time, outside time, where our bodies can relax and breathe fresh air. Be aware of these changes, and how you are stressing yourself out! Keep writing, under all circumstances! Bu also, stay healthy!
When I read that quote, I felt not only ‘confirmed’, I felt encouraged. What a writer Junot Diaz has to be, to say so little and still manage to help a fellow writer who is losing hope sometimes and suffers from self-doubts more often than it’s good for her?
With these few words, Junot Diaz has empowered me, strengthened my will to write, my need to ban my stories on paper, and boosted my self-confidence.
I would say that is a gift on its own… no wonder the man got a Pulitzer prize for his work!
I wish, sometimes, I would be more robust, not tearing myself apart over things… writing is only one of them. I let the words of others still hurt me. Sometimes a simple phone call is discouraging me so much, that I completely lose the ability to encourage myself!
I wonder if that’s another side of the same ability: to empower with words, but also to destroy someone’s self-esteem with words?
I have been down for two days now, brooding over something I was told on the phone, and I’m internally bleeding, so to speak. My way of dealing with that would have been writing, under normal circumstances. But currently, I’m busy with a few other things, and writing is, unfortunately, not on the top of my list.
This resulted in a depressed low I was sitting in for nearly two days now… add the next friend who tells me bluntly that I’m ‘expecting too much’… and I was barely sleeping anymore. This quote here, helped me a great deal!
I wish sometimes, loneliness wasn’t part of my life…
But now, read the quote, internalize it, and understand, what it really means, not only for your writing but for who you are! You are a writer, a STRONG writer! Stay one, live your life to be that writer… no matter what will happen, you are a writer! Be proud of it!
Thank you, Junot Diaz!
Who is Junot Diaz?
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Structural timing is one of most prominent features of story structure. This positioning of a story’s important turning points is one of the keys for creating a story that feels right to audiences. As often as not, when something seems off about a story, the problem can be narrowed down to wonky structural timing. This makes structural timing one of the most accessible tools writers can use to troubleshoot weak areas of a story.
However, structural timing is also an aspect of story structure that many writers find frustrating or confusing. How are you supposed to time a story when even you may not be sure how long the finished draft will be? Doesn’t following a precise map for a story’s timing mean your story is more likely to feel formulaic to readers? And, perhaps most commonly, just how precise does a story’s structural timing have to be?
So you have an author blog on your website, but you haven’t posted there for over a year, when your last book came out. Or maybe you started a blog a while ago, but nobody visited, so it’s just floating out there in cyberspace, collecting spam.
It can seem pointless to put energy into a blogpost when the response is always…crickets.
And isn’t blogging dead anyway?
Nope, Blogging is Not Dead.
The fad of blogging about products for money has faded since Instagram took over that area of online advertising, but other blogs are going strong, especially author blogs.
As Rachel Thompson of Bad Redhead Media says, from a marketing perspective, “blogging is pretty much a requirement for anyone wanting to establish an online presence.”
But blogging isn’t a case of “if you build it they will come.” You kind of have to give people a push.
Here are some easy fixes that can push more readers in your direction.