Archive for June, 2010

Are you a thief? Would you appreciate it if someone stole your purse or wallet to use your credit card or drivers license to run up speeding violations, expenditures that you had to pay or hire a lawyer to fight them? Would you appreciate your name being published on websites as a thief? Do you like being called a thief?

These are questions anyone contemplating posting without permission an ebook or any document on any website. Think of all the hours that author put into that item you are converting for your own use or profit.

Perhaps you don’t care. Perhaps you think that people who write ought to do so for free. Would you be willing to work for years without pay? Would you like to sew a dress or build a car or repair a motorcycle and have someone else take it for their own use while you have paid for the parts or material?

It doesn’t matter whether you are distributing the material for free or selling it, if it is without permission, you are a thief. You have broken laws that leave you open to persecution and fines. You will have a criminal record thereafter. And it is a matter of public record. Potential employers, colleges, acquaintances, and others may learn of your criminal record.

Also, if you are selling anything illegally, how do you report the income to the IRS? You haven’t? Well, think about it. Do you want them to start checking on your income and the sites people may report it coming from? You may think no one can find your identity, but that’s not so. There are people who can track others online and you could be reported.

Perhaps you own a host website and hide behind all the demands that someone prove they are the owner of a stolen publication. Your website can be named on a list of accomplices then and you have willingly become a criminal if you don’t check the copyright of published items on your site. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and once you are told an item is stolen, if it is not removed, you become a thief too, helping the person posting illegally, steal.

Think using a foreign host is safe? Think again. What if the person you steal from, contacts the proper department in that foreign government’s police department and they get in touch with the host. The host will look out for his own skin first. If a name is requested by that country, it is likely to be provided.

You not only hurt the author of the article you steal, but yourself. Your reputation is damaged. What if you are a book reviewer or want to be? Authors and publishers will not give you books to review. You’ve proven in the past you have no integrity. Why would they give you a chance to steal from them again?

Do you think because you’ve paid for an item that it gives you the right to reproduce and sell it. Ripping someone off you don’t know may give you a rush, make you feel powerful or whatever other excuse you can dream up, but in the end, it means you are without honor. Is this the way your parents raised you?

Do you think the life of a thief is glamorous? Think again. If it is so glamorous, why do you go to such lengths to hide your identity? It is because you don’t want people to know you are a thief, the type of criminal that picks the pocket of people you don’t know. It means you have no self respect as well. You are perhaps enjoying a good laugh with your partners or friends at how you are so much smarter or superior than your victims–those who work for what you steal, but your friends and partners know too that you are a thief. If the going gets rough and you or they are discovered, will they stand behind you and declare you are a good person? Not likely. Thieves fall out and the finger pointing and accusations begin. One or more might testify against you.

Think carefully before you become a cyber criminal. In the end you will be exposed. And then what? Jail time? fines? Remember when you take the chance on becoming a thief, you are not the smartest person in the world. There is always someone smarter and they might, just might, be hunting you.

About the author:

Anne K. Edwards is an award-winning author and book reviewer. She’s also the editor of Voice in the Dark Ezine. Her latest novel is Shadows Over Paradise, just released by Twilight Times Books.

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Kari Wolfe is a writer and a blogger at Imperfect Clarity in whatever time is left over from being a stay-at-home-mom to a very precocious and energetic three-year old. She blogs on a number of topics including writing, book reviews, interviews, and setting and meeting goals.

Currently, she is on a mission: to combine fiction writing articles with and articles on how she’s trying to live her life to the fullest and she’s going to bring you on that journey with her through her blog.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Well, I’m originally from Huntington, West Virginia, and currently live in Colorado Springs, CO. Before moving to Colorado, I received my bachelor’s degree in science, majoring in physics and mathematics from Marshall University in my home town.

It’s always been my dream to write. And, by dream, I mean I have written my entire life but always have been told that I should do something else.

That and I’ve had setbacks, mostly in school.

During middle school, I wrote erotica—not the most appropriate topic for a pre-teen—and my writing was confiscated by the guidance counselor who pulled me into her office for a good talking to. I don’t remember what she said but I remember the embarrassment I felt. I don’t write erotica anymore.

In high school, I co-wrote a book with my best friend, Mikie—my character would flirt with his character, his character would tell mine no and that we were just really good friends, etc. So on and so forth.

As an adult, I kept a journal that was used against me by an ex-boyfriend who threw anything negative I wrote about him in my face. Same guy who would take me to a secluded spot, make me feel guilty for whatever he was upset at me about and once I cried, he’d take me home.

When I married my husband, it took me a while to finally realize that I was safe. If I didn’t want anyone to read my writing—regardless of what it was—no one would. He wouldn’t go through what I’d written without my permission. I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2008 and, with his encouragement, I won.

For my blog, Imperfect Clarity, I’ve interviewed some awesome people: Seth Godin, Peter Straub, Conrad Williams, Christopher Moore, Les Edgerton and more.

Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary and also how you got the idea for this book.

Realizing there is more than to life than observation, a voyeur kidnaps a struggling stay-at-home mother and her children only to fight the trapped evil spirit of the house they are hiding in through his possessed partner-in-crime.

For this work, I combined several different ideas.

First, the newest Tool album has a song called “Vicarious” about how some people watch the news and the worse the news is, the better they like it. The idea is they are “living vicariously through the eyes of others,” a phrase criminologist Jack Levin used in a personal conversation with me about why people are so fascinated with the idea of serial killers. The song reminded me of our conversation which gave me Jake, the story’s protagonist.

Second, I wanted to try my hand at a novel about a haunted house. Easy as that. As to what the house actually does… I took a subject I was interested in, memory, and started asking myself questions about what I could do with that subject.

Last, the overall theme of the story is forgiveness of self. It probably took longer to come up with the overall theme than anything else. Plotting out the book’s main points and what I definitely wanted to have happen helped a lot in discovering this.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I have a three-year-old daughter who is autistic, so in some ways, I really don’t feel like I ever have a typical day. On Monday and Wednesdays, she goes to preschool and, after my own physical therapy, I have an hour before picking her up. Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have hippotherapy and speech therapy.

Fortunately she takes a nap most afternoons—or, at least, I’ve instituted a rule of quiet time where she plays in her room. This is when I do most of my writing.

After Natasha goes to bed, I have some time available then, but I use it for reading and relaxing mostly. My husband is home, so it’s more difficult for me to concentrate on writing fiction.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love to talk. You can ask my husband 😉

Seriously, I love to create. I love to come up with an idea and to work it out on the page. Recently, I’ve been inundated with new ideas and I keep jotting them down. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to get to them all!

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Sometimes it’s just DOING it. I freewrite, to get my hands flowing across the keyboard and to kickstart my brain.

Sometimes it’s just time—there are days I have no energy to focus on fiction and I only focus on nonfiction, blog entries, that type of thing.

And sometimes it’s focusing on the here and now. Daydreaming about having your books in bookstores and name on the publishing lists is great—but you have to do the work first.

Do you have a website?
Yes, Imperfect Clarity at http://www.imperfectclarity.net/

Imperfect Clarity is a detailed look at the thought processes of a fiction writer trying to improve her life and become successful by living her life to the fullest.

The idea here is to combine fiction writing articles with my own fiction and articles on how I’m trying to live my life to the fullest that I can. I am learning how to do this not only from different websites I have found talking about motivation but also by actually DOING these things I talk about.

I’m in the process of branding it and hopefully will be able to institute those changes within the next month. I’m really excited about it.

You can sign up to receive Imperfect Clarity both through email (http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=ImperfectClarity&loc=en_US) as well as through your favorite RSS reader (http://feeds.feedburner.com/ImperfectClarity).

What are you working on right now?

Including The House (my fictional work-in-progress), I am currently working on a four or five-post series for my blog about resistance and procrastination. I have several nonfiction ebooks in the works as well as a guest posting position.

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Please welcome my special guest, award-winning Nicaraguan-American writer Silvio Sirias. He’s the author two novels, Bernardo and the Virgin (Northwestern University Press, 2005) and Meet Me Under the Ceiba (Arte Público Press, 2009). This latest one garnered him the 2007 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for Best Novel. In addition, he’s published numerous pieces of literary criticism. Sirias holds a P.h. D. in Spanish from the University of Arizona. Since 2002, Silvio resides in Panama, where he continues to write and teach at Balboa Academy. For more information on the author, visit his website at www.SilvioSirias.com.

About Bernardo and the Virgin:

In 1980, with the Sandinistas newly in power, Bernardo Martinez witnesses an extraordinary thing: an otherworldly glow about the statue of the Virgin Mary in the church where he works as sacristán. Soon the Holy Virgin appears. She tells Bernardo to forget his money problems and fear of ridicule and spread her message of peace and faith to his neighbors. Though a work of fiction, Bernardo and the Virgin is based on actual events. The visitation of the Virgin Mary at Cuapa, Nicaragua, remains one of the few such events accepted by the Catholic Church in the last sixty years.

Silvio Sirias’ sweeping novel tells many stories: that of a humble man touched by the transcendent; that same man as a devout boy denied the priesthood because of poverty; and those in his orbit, past and present. It is also the stormy epic of Nicaragua through the long Somoza years to the Sandinista revolution. Sirias’ beautiful language mixes English with Spanish and details of dusty village life with wondrous images of Catholic mysticism. His portrayal of the rich recent past of Central America resonates with the experiences of both the natives and the thriving communities of Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and other Central American putting down roots in the United States.

Thanks for being my guest today. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started writing?

I was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up there until the age of eleven. My parents then moved to Nicaragua, their country of origin. This move is, without a doubt, the most significant milestone in my life as it shaped the way I see the world. During my years in Nicaragua, I also learned that Central America is a place full of wondrous, and at times heartbreaking, stories. After graduating from high school I returned to Los Angeles to attend college. I fell in love with the study of literature and eventually received a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona and worked as a professor of Spanish and U.S. Latino and Latina literature for several years before moving back to Nicaragua in 1999.

Ever since adolescence I’ve enjoyed writing, but I’m a late bloomer in the writing of fiction. My college training taught me how to produce literary criticism, but after meeting and conducting interviews with several Latino and Latina novelists, I saw how much fun they were having and decided to join in.

I hear you were named one of the 2010 Top Ten “New” Latino Authors to Watch by LatinoStories.Com. That’s quite an honor.

Learning the news stunned me, and then I was elated. But once the elation wore off I was humbled. I realized that I needed to work harder in my current and future efforts to be worthy of the honor.

How did Bernardo and the Virgin come about?

Beginning in my early 30s I started looking for an engrossing story through which I could also explore the history of Nicaragua in the 20th century. I met Bernardo Martinez, who was good friends with my father, in 1999, and the more I learned about his story, the more I became certain that I had finally found the perfect vehicle for the panoramic tale I had long wanted to tell.

Critics have called Bernardo and the Virgin a tale of religious mysticism. Tell us about that.

In telling the story of Bernardo Martinez, who claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to him several times in 1980, I narrated the apparitions through his point of view — and this lens is indeed out of the ordinary and highly spiritual. Whether one believes his account or not — and acceptance or disbelief became a highly politicized issue in revolutionary Nicaragua — he maintained until his dying breath that he had experienced an intimate encounter with the divine. Nicaraguans are highly religious people who easily accept the existence of mystical experiences. Long before the reports of Bernardo’s visions Nicaraguans fervently venerated Mary — fanatically so. Because of this, tens of thousands immediately accepted the news of her visit. It is this collective belief that gives the novel its mystical dimension, I think.

I hear you’re a very disciplined writer.

Yes, friends say that I’m a highly disciplined writer. That’s because when I feel I’m on to something writing feels like play, not work. But I’m not one of those supremely dedicated writers who will stay up until midnight or wake up before dawn to write. I need major blocks of time at reasonable hours; I’m talking about six to eight hours a day for months, or even years. I was fortunate to have a couple of years where I could afford to stay home and write. What a luxury! During that time, I’d work from 8 a.m. until the late afternoon, six days a week. When I’m able to take time off from my day-job I write feverishly and get a lot accomplished. But I’m back in the classroom now, which I love, to refill my bank account so that within two or three years I can stay home again to write. At present, however, I have a three-hour block in the mornings where I get as much done as I can.

How was your creative process while working on Bernardo?

The first task was to conduct the research. That’s always the most exciting part for me; it’s where I vicariously experience the story I’m preparing to write. Once I’m confident that I have most of the information I need, I sketch a general outline of all the chapters, and this includes the ending because, for the sake of my nerves, I need to know how the story ends. Then I begin to write with the help of a detailed outline of each chapter. As I write, I start each day by revising what I have written the day before. This helps my mind get back into the story. I then start a new section and write straight into the mid-afternoon. This cycle repeats itself until the rough draft is concluded. Then I will work on a chapter at a time, revising it until it is as perfect as I can get it. When I polish the last chapter I share the manuscript with my peer editors, a wonderful team that has served me faithfully.

How is this work different from your second book, Meet Me under the Ceiba?

The primary difference is in the scope of the novels. Bernardo and the Virgin explores important events in Nicaragua’s history through the lives and thoughts of characters that represent ordinary people. As a result of this exploration, the pace of the narrative is leisurely. Bernardo is more like a ballad, while Meet Me under the Ceiba, which is based on an actual murder case, has more of a rock ’n’ roll pace. The reader has to practice a little patience during the opening chapters of Bernardo, but there’s a big payoff when the stories begin to lock together.

Which novel has a closer place to your heart?

Both novels are very dear to me, Mayra, but for different reasons. Bernardo and the Virgin is my first-born, and like any parent a lot of my hopes and dreams about the legacy I hope to leave as a writer are contained within those pages. What’s more, I wrote Bernardo as a tribute to the people of Nicaragua. I am most grateful for everything they’ve taught me. On the other hand, the goal of Meet Me under the Ceiba was to write a fast-paced story with an unusual structure that would capture the reader’s attention from the onset and hold it throughout. By all accounts I’ve been fortunate enough to have succeeded in both attempts.

I’ve received feedback from many readers with ties to Nicaragua who have thanked me for writing Bernardo and the Virgin because they claim that the novel, in addition to telling Bernardo’s story, captures the essence of life in that country. And I’ve also heard from several readers of Meet Me under the Ceiba who have said that they had to read the novel in one sitting because they couldn’t put it down. Because of such positive feedback, and because the books are so different, the answer regarding which one is closer to my heart depends on the mood I’m in at a given time. I love them both, for varying reasons.

What’s the hardest part about being a novelist? The most rewarding?

The hardest part is being able to afford the time to right. People have misconceptions about the financial aspect of being a writer. But it’s not entirely their fault. For instance, in most films, as soon as a character who’s a novelist publishes his or her first book they become wealthy, get to ride in limos, and they hang out with celebrities in upscale New York restaurants while learning to elude the paparazzi. The reality is that very, very few novelists receive public acclaim or get to live off of their royalties. Many sacrifices are required to become and remain a novelist. The ideal situation, for me, would be to earn just enough to stay home and write full-time. I can do without the limos and the glamorous company. Regarding the most rewarding part, for me it’s been what I’ve learned along the journeys of each novel.

How has the publishing process been for you?

Because I had already published books of an academic nature, I was familiar with the world of publishers. As a writer of fiction, I’ve had nice experiences with Northwestern University Press, the publishers of Bernardo and the Virgin, and with Arte Público Press, who published Meet Me under the Ceiba. With Bernardo the road got a bit bumpy when there was a delay during a crucial promotion period, and then the editorial team that strongly supported the novel left to work with other publishers. Because of these problems, which were beyond anyone’s control, when Bernardo and the Virgin was released it went under the radar, barely getting noticed. But that’s all part of the game. Also, I confess that at the onset of my career as a novelist I was naive, believing that publishers would do all the promotion. But after learning that it was in my interest to become actively involved in this part of the business I’ve worked diligently to explore the ways I have within my means to promote my work. This is something every author needs to learn, so a writer may as well become good at it and enjoy the challenge.

What kind of themes do you like exploring?

It depends on the novel. Critics have described Bernardo and the Virgin as an “epic” account of Nicaragua in the latter half of the 20th century. And because of the broad canvas of this narrative, I had the opportunity to explore every theme that possesses me: politics, history, religion, spirituality, family, war, immigration, biculturalism, the shifting traditions, superstitions, death, and so forth. Meet Me Under the Ceiba allowed me to delve into the heart of an actual murder and then explore what’s good traits, if any, such a horrendous act can bring out in us. My third novel, The Saint of Santa Fe, deals with the disappearance of Father Hector Gallego, a young Colombian priest who accepted an assignment in the then faraway mountains of Veraguas, in Panama. He was confronted with a campesino population that lived as indentured servants, and he did what was necessary to change their lives. Sadly, however, in the process of liberating his parishioners, he offended the landed gentry as well as General Omar Torrijos, the country’s strongman before General Manuel Antonio Noriega, and this cost the priest his life. I wrote The Saint of Santa Fe to better grasp the recent history and culture of Panama, my new homeland.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve completed a third novel, but I need three to four months where I can devote myself exclusively to revising the manuscript as it’s not quite ready to send off to the publishers. The story is based on an actual event in Panama, in 1971, concerning the disappearance of a priest, a noble person, who upset the status quo in a remote mountain community. I also have a collection of essays that I will soon start circulating among publishers. In the meantime I continue to write essays and I’m researching topics with an eye toward possible future novels.

Thanks for the wonderful interview, Silvio!

This is the first stop in Silvio Sirias’ virtual tour with Condor Book Tours. Don’t miss his other stops in the during the next two weeks. To see the full schedule, visit Condor Book Tours.

Live chats with the author!

There will be two live chats with Silvio at the author chat salon at Condor: http://condorbooktours.com/index.php?pr=Author_Chat_Salon

The first will be on Friday June 11th from 7-8pm EST and will be for questions from the readers of the blogs hosting from June 7-11

The second will be on Friday June 18th from 7-8pm EST and will be for the questions from the readers of the blogs hosting from June 14-18.

Support your independent bookstores by purchasing Sirias’ novels from Dulce Bread and Bookshop.

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