Guest Post: Emily Scialom

Hi everyone!

We’re back with a brief guest post from Emily Scialom, who has one book out already and another on the way from Austin Macauley very soon! Check it out:

emily_scialom_ps‘The Religion of Self-Enlightenment’ was begun in the summer of 2008. It was just before I went to America and travelled the States during the Obama election campaign; the air was sticky with hope for a better world. It was published by Olympia publishers, who are based in London, in the summer of 2016.

Immediately, things got weird. I was out walking with my sister in a nature reserve named Paradise when a figure of light appeared beside me in a photograph of the spot where I previously had Bible study class with my very Christian friend, Christine. I posted it online and a musician who I was friends with on Facebook from a famous band named the Brian Jonestown Massacre wrote a song about me called ‘Ghost Ghost’. The lyrics? “She’s a ghost/And she holds me so close/She is Jesus Christ/And all the Holy Hosts.”

People always told me never to write about religion. When I first started out I knew there was a problem with organised belief, even though everyone told me I was wrong; by the time the book was published I had been well and truly vindicated.

So I began writing about other topics which interest me: sex and hating the Tories. ‘The Rivers’ emerged over the course of about four years while working for the music app Spotify. This novel will be published soon by Austin Macauley. I very much look forward to sharing it with everyone.

jesus and me

‘The Rivers’ centres around a married couple who are hopelessly in love, named John and Elizabeth. Throughout the development of their story, however, there are a plethora of situations where true love cannot be easily found. Amidst the heartache there are discussions on serious global and cultural issues, as well as the nature of love and God.

roseAs for ‘The ROSE‘ (a beautiful acronym, I’m sure you will agree?), it’s been declared a “cult classic” by television and “a classic of near-death experience literature” in reviews. It’s now selling out on-loop in Cambridge book shops and has only five star reviews on Amazon. I am hoping it will be a tremendous success amidst all the craziness.

The story tells of a man named Carrick Ares, who has a near-death experience and writes a new religion in its aftermath, which is basically a philosophic work centred on the idea of oneness. If you have ever wondered for far too long about who you are and why you are here you will empathise with Carrick’s struggles, and he is very much an everyman who has captured the attentions of many readers thus far.

To purchase a copy for only 6.99 please go to Amazon, Waterstones or Olympia publishers.

There you have it, readers. Another book to watch out for in the near future!

Thanks for reading.

Tao of the Author: The Recurring Question

Hi everyone,

[EDIT – The Tao of the Author series has moved! Due to the necessity for funding, the column is being continued over at my Patreon page as part of the lowest tier reward newsletter.]

Welcome back to The Tao of the Author, a new thread of blog posts that will address the psychological and philosophical aspects of being an author. The first post The Magic Bean talked about how it’s important to remember that there’s no quick track into authorship, and no magic ticket. This week, I’d like to talk about a question that I get asked a lot:

“How do I get published?”

My reply to this is another question which, in the moment and out of context, might sound harsh but I promise that I deliver it kindly.

“Have you finished your book, yet?”

The amount of people who reply “no” is overwhelming. To those people, and to anyone who is reading this who has the same question, I would like to suggest that you do so. Think about first things first. Maintain the dream of becoming published, but don’t bog yourself down with the mechanics of it. You aren’t ready if your book isn’t ready. Your author self and your book come as a package, you see?

To the rest of you who do have a book/comic/poetry collection/whatever completed, I would say this: Do your research. Because every track into the creative world is different depending on your product. But, from a philosophical standpoint, I think the mindset behind the question is an interesting thing to discuss. You see, people are focused on doing things “the right way” when there is only “your way”.

We are creative. Our minds are attuned to the world in a way that some people can never experience. Everything we see, hear and feel, while ignored by most, is assimilated by us. We see through the cracks, around the corners. We ask questions of society and normality and, when we realise there is no satisfactory answer, we create one of our own. Whether you write “Chick Lit” (a genre name that I don’t believe reflects how good it really is), Horror, Sci-fi or Fantasy, you are taking the real world, holding up a mirror, and either dissecting or representing it in a way that touches others, that brings people together who otherwise feel as if they exist alone. The nature of humanity is that we can never see what another is thinking, feeling or planning; we see only into our own minds. That can be lonely. Creatives bridge that gap, showing how we all share experiences in a way that everyone can understand. Art, in all it’s forms, is the closest we humans get to telepathy.

And yet, your standard creative will still fall into the trap of asking for a solid answer to shoehorn into our ephemeral world.

We are creatives. From the first time that we see a landscape, or the play of emotion on a stranger’s face and think “I must represent this with art”, we’re walking an uncertain path. But we don’t deal in certainty. Our currency is ideas. Everything we do is outside of comfort zones and social norms. It has to be, or we can never craft anything entirely new.

Our journey into creativity is not an earthly thing. It’s born of a dream, and made of human connection beyond mere words on a page. That kind of connection doesn’t come from a 9-5 bubble. It doesn’t come from the classroom or from grades. It doesn’t come from manuscripts printed in 12pt, times new roman, double-lined spaced with generous margins. It comes in spite of those things.

What am I getting at? There is no certain path. My experience is not your experience. My path is not your path. And no one can tell you how to get published. I got published after years of hard work and then, when I was about to give up, I sent out a tweet. And got a publisher. Is that the “usual” way? No. But it was my path. And I can tell you stories of people who have gotten an agent before getting a publisher, some have self published and Amazon have bought their book that went straight on to a movie deal, other people self publish and sell copies out of the boot of their car on Sundays, more still have diversified themselves to the point that they can write simply anything and make a good wage from that flexibility.

There is no one path. Find yours. You do so by first preparing your equipment. Make sure your book is the best you can make it with the resources available to you. Then head into the woods. Veer off the track. Stumble through the undergrowth. Grow thirsty and hot and lost, and I swear to you, if there is a way for you, you will find it. But no one ever got anywhere by sitting down when the track turned uphill. And sometimes the old man who you meet, whose directions seem so useful, so easy to hold onto as a sign of some certainty in the vastness of the forest, are half remembered lies from when the forest was but a copse of firs.

How do you get published?

By keeping your boots strapped tight, and throwing away the map. You do it your way.

The Philosophy

And here we come to the real philosophy section of the post, where we try to find the things that have been said by much smarter people than I, that you might bear in mind when thinking about your creative path:

“No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

And what about if we go even further back in time? Confucius suggested:

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

And, equally important:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

 

Thanks for reading!

The Tao of the Author

Hi everyone,

Welcome to a new thread of posts! I recently had the idea (well, someone told me to do it) to write up some of the things I’ve learned over the last six years of being an indie author. But, as usual, I can’t do anything the easy way.

There are a lot of tips for authors out there. A lot of tricks and get-there-fast schemes. There are a lot of online courses that will cost you hundreds and teach you nothing. There are good ones as well, but they take some finding.

So, I wanted to do something a little different. I’ll be avoiding tips on how to craft a chapter, how to pace your novel, how to make a short story really hit home, and I’ll be focusing more on philosophy.

WAIT! DON’T GO! It’ll be good, honest.

In an effort to make it sound all impressive, I’ll be calling the thread The Tao of the Author. Hopefully some of the things I share will help you to better contend with the mental and emotional hurdles that a lot of authors have to climb over. I know that I have. We’ll be talking about Imposter Syndrome, handling rejections, and how to maintain your headspace when its swimming with worlds and voices both real and imagined. We’ll be talking about some of the advice out there, how it sounds profound, but can actually be toxic to your creative survival. I’m hoping it will be useful and fun to read.

Just one explanatory note: I’m not perfect. Oh, sweet Cthulhu, I am not perfect. The Tao isn’t coming from a high hilltop where I meditate in a state of creative perfection. The reason I can share these things with you is because I have fallen foul of them and still do on occasion. But, if we keep reminding each other of these important things, maybe it’ll get easier for all of us.

The first post will be “The Magic Bean” and it’ll drop tonight. I’ll be writing a bunch of these and releasing them on Wednesdays, I think.

 

As always, thanks for reading, everyone. Your constant support keeps me dreaming, keeps me writing, keeps me going.

I attempt philosophy. Oh no…

I like to keep you all updated with what I’ve been reading. This post was going to be a list of the great stuff I’ve come across lately but, I think there’s an important issue we need to tackle first. Indie e-books can be a bit of a minefield, sometimes. There are a lot of enthusiastic people out there who have found the perfect forum to share their work, but, sometimes, enthusiasm isn’t quite enough. Throwing myself into the Indie market, meeting the people and swapping reviews has had its ups and downs. There’s nothing worse than reading someone’s pride and joy and not enjoying it. And, since it’s Indie, we’re as face-to-face with our readers as we’re likely to get. Comments are personal.

Reading a particular novel recently, I had to give some constructive feedback. The story premise was good. I liked his setting and even the characters he’d created. Unfortunately, the grammar wasn’t great and his description was…well…flat.

“The living room was large and white. There was a red sofa and a flat screen tv.” – No direct quote, but no exaggeration either.

In this instance, told him all of the above and suggested he might want to think about mentioning key things that create atmosphere rather than listing room contents (I’m paraphrasing again). The author asked me how many stars I would award it on Goodreads. I said 2 in its current draft but probably more if he worked on it a little. He asked me not to review it.

Fair enough.

And that’s a problem with the internet. Not only are you toying with people’s dreams, but honesty doesn’t get you very far. I found that out on my recent Uni course, most of it performed by forum and IM. Some people can’t take criticism, and especially not over the net where a lack of body language can make you seem harsh. My primary problem? I don’t know when to lie. And for the first time, I’m seeing it a s a flaw. But, going into a grander, philosophical mode, here. If we’re ever going to raise e-publishing and indie authors to the same heights as hard published, ‘literary’ work, we have to be honest with each other. That’s why literary agents and publishers are harsh. They want you to be as good as you can be, for you, for them, and for the reader. No one wants to buy a washing machine that drops apart and fills your house with suds like a Three Stooges sketch, simply because the engineer’s mum liked his work and no one else dare pull him up on it.
I love getting reviews. They’re like sustenance to me. But the ones I really watch out for are the ones that have a good mix of criticism and compliment. Like the one given for Not Before Bed by Dan Powell (Author of These Strange Worlds). Dan liked what he saw, complimented it, and then pointed out where I could improve next time. Perfect! And I like to think this professional attitude to reviews can be found in others.

Well, this has turned into a rant and, for that, I apologise. In a nutshell, I just want us to be honest with each other. We owe it to our peers as Indie Authors who are striving for success. Why would we want someone to feel crippling disappointment at the hands of an agent or publisher when we can avoid it?

And so, to those people who 5 star everything that graces their Kindle or Nook, and for those who think they’re being nice by bulling up their online friends to impossible heights; just think about the larger picture and the culture we have the privilege to be creating here. because if we cock it up with niceties and little white lies, it’s going to be worth nothing in years to come.

Thus endeth this sermon.

Now here’s a picture of a fat giraffe to lighten the mood 🙂

Thanks for reading!