You’re the officer making a lawful arrest. You inform violator they are under arrest. They decide to resist your commands.
What Would You Do?
Author be the Cop
You’re the officer making a lawful arrest. You inform violator they are under arrest. They decide to resist your commands.
What Would You Do?
Author be the Cop
We’ve created this website first and foremost because of our love for authors—we want you to get it right the first time, and we want to make it easy for you.
SilverHart is a unique combination that stems from two vastly different careers—encompassing both publishing and law enforcement so authors can write it right.
Writers – What’s the BUZZ?
Good editors really can add value, in two ways.
First, editors are industry professionals who can educate often-naive authors about the facts of life in the real world of publishing. (Agents are great at this too, often even better.) The other answers have some excellent details on this, but I think it boils down to: Just because you want to write it doesn’t mean somebody else wants to read it, and certainly not that he or she wants to pay for it.
Second, and even more important, editors can view writers and their products from the outside, which authors themselves rarely can. Think of Burns’ “wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us”–that’s the power editors have and writers usually don’t.
A lot of times, though, it means being able to see the chaff as well as the wheat, the haystack as well as the needle, and finding a way to tell authors infatuated with the sound of their own voices or opinions that the piece would be better if pruned back, rearranged, rewritten, etc. Or, unfortunately, sometimes just dropped entirely, with the writer moving on to a more promising project.
Bottom line, editors serve as proxies for readers at large–proxies who, if they are doing their job properly, not only understand what those readers need and appreciate, but are able to help writers do what is necessary to reach them. Readers are outer-directed, writers are often inner-directed, editors try to bridge the gap between the two so their interactions can be more mutually rewarding. (Spoiler alert: that usually means asking why anybody other than the writer should care about something, cutting verbiage, tightening language, getting to the point, all the usual stuff.)
We’re heading back to New York for this year’s Romance Writers of America’s 35th annual conference.We’re excited to see so many of our friends and the chances to meet so many others.
We’ll keep you updated and try to not get so caught up in the excitement that we forget to tweet from hash tag #RWA15 – but no promises. It gets super exciting!
Will we see you there – let’s catch up.
There’s even a guide to surviving RWA – Check it out
Romance Writers of America’s 35th Annual Conference – Come along
True Detective.There is a line that’s repeated in the series and it is SO perfect for our purposes today.
Sometimes your worst self is your best self.
It’s tempting for us to create “perfect” protagonists and “pure evil” antagonists, but that’s the stuff of cartoons, not great fiction. Every strength has an array of corresponding weaknesses, and when we understand these soft spots, generating conflict becomes easier. Understanding character arc becomes simpler. Plotting will fall into place with far less effort.
All stories are character-driven. Plot merely serves to change characters from a lowly protagonist into a hero….kicking and screaming along the way. Plot provides the crucible.
Plot is the push that drives the change. Without the plot problem, the protagonist is never forced to face weakness and can comfortably remain unchanged. Plot forces the protagonist to face the worst self in order to eventually unveil the best self.
One element that is critical to understand is this:
Everyone has Secrets
To quote Dr. Gregory House, Everybody lies.
All good stories hinge on secrets.
I have bodies under my porch.
Okay, not all secrets in our fiction need to be THIS huge.
Secret #1—“Real” Self Versus “Authentic” Self
We all have a face we show to the world, what we want others to see. If this weren’t true then my author picture would have me wearing a Batman T-shirt, yoga pants and a scrunchee, not a beautifully lighted photograph taken by a pro.
We all have faces we show to certain people, roles we play. We are one person in the workplace, another with family, another with friends and another with strangers. This isn’t us being deceptive in a bad way, it’s self-protection and it’s us upholding societal norms. This is why when Grandma starts discussing her bathroom routine, we cringe and yell, “Grandma! TMI! STOP!”
No one wants to be trapped in a long line at a grocery store with the total stranger telling us about her nasty divorce. Yet, if we had a sibling who was suffering, we’d be wounded if she didn’t tell us her marriage was falling apart.
Yet, people keep secrets. Some more than others. Most of us have secrets we keep even from ourselves 😉 .
In fact, if we look at The Joy Luck Club the entire book hinges on the fact that the mothers are trying to break the curses of the past by merely changing geography. Yet, as their daughters grow into women, they see the faces of the same demons wreaking havoc in their daughters’ lives…even though they are thousands of miles away from the past (China).
The mothers have to reveal their sins, but this will cost them the “perfect version of themselves” they’ve sold the world and their daughters (and frankly, themselves).
The daughters look at their mothers as being different from them. Their mothers are perfect, put-together, and guiltless. It’s this misperception that keeps a wall between them. This wall can only come down if the external facades (the secrets) are exposed.
Secret #2—False Face
Characters who seem strong, can, in fact, be scared half to death. Characters who seem to be so caring, can in fact be acting out of guilt, not genuine concern for others. We all have those fatal weaknesses, and most of us don’t volunteer these blemishes to the world.
In fact, we might not even be aware of them. It’s why shrinks are plentiful and paid well.
The woman whose house looks perfect can be hiding a month’s worth of laundry behind the Martha Stewart shower curtains. Go to her house and watch her squirm if you want to hang your coat in her front closet. She wants others to think she has her act together, but if anyone opens that coat closet door, the pile of junk will fall out…and her skeletons will be on public display.
Anyone walking toward her closets or asking to take a shower makes her uncomfortable because this threatens her false face.
Watch any episode of House and most of the team’s investigations are hindered because patients don’t want to reveal they are not ill and really want attention, or use drugs, are bulimic, had an affair, are growing marijuana in their attics, etc.
Secret #3—False Guilt
Characters can be driven to right a wrong they aren’t even responsible for. In Winter’s Bone Ree Dolly is driven to find her father before the bail bondsman takes the family land and renders all of them homeless.
Ree is old enough to join the Army and walk away from the nightmare, but she doesn’t. She feels a need to take care of the family and right a wrong she didn’t commit. She has to dig in and dismantle the family secrets (the crime ring entrenched in her bloodline) to uncover the real secret—What happened to her father?
She has to keep the family secret (otherwise she could just go to the cops) to uncover the greater, and more important secret. She keeps the secret partly out of self-preservation, but also out of guilt and shame.
It’s tough out there for authors. Between 600,000 and a million books are published or self-published in America every year, and most of those sell fewer than 250 copies. For every breakout success like A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay or Taken by the Lightning Bolt, there’s a thousand books whose sales slide slowly and painfully into a ditch like that time you decided to go rollerblading in an ice storm.
Which is why some writers get desperate in their quest to tear the reading public’s fickle attention away from whatever butt picture they’re currently looking at. Butts are pretty damn distracting, though, so it’s not unheard of for authors to turn to some intensely crazy stuff. Like …
A man from West Virginia, Ray Dolin, had a dream. He was going to hitchhike all the way across America and use his experiences as the basis for a book, The Kindness of America. Unfortunately, Dolin’s dream was soon shattered, and not just because he ran into a bunch of mean people in L.A. Nope, it was something even worse: while Dolin was waiting for a ride outside of Glasgow, Montana,a stranger in a pickup truck pulled over, shot him in the arm, and then sped away. Police soon arrested a man from Washington state for the shooting, and it looked like the plot of Dolin’s book was going to get a whole lot more interesting.
The incident made national news, with Internet comment sections beating their chests about America’s failing moral values (conservatives) or degenerate redneck gun culture (liberals). Unfortunately for the human desire to seize on news articles that prove what we already believe anyway, the truth soon came out: the Montana drive-by shooting never happened. Dolin admitted that he’d shot himself in the arm, either to drum up publicity for that upcoming book of his or because he was stuck on page 200 and couldn’t think of an interesting plot twist (hell, it worked inFight Club).
Montana law enforcement wasn’t impressed with Dolin wasting their time and money for the purposes of book publicity, particularly since he stuck to his story even after an innocent man was arrested and jailed for the crime. He was given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay fines and restitution. Tragically, Dolin couldn’t get to the courthouse to pay because a missile silo fell on him, and he’s writing about the event in his new book, Missile Silos Falling on Me in America.
Belgian mystery novelist Georges Simenon, who died in 1989, was a pro at that whole writing thing: the guy could apparently pump out a novel in 11 days. Christ, it took me longer than that to decide whether to call my action-thriller protagonist Buck “Hardboiled” McGruntman or Lance Fist. But Simenon wasn’t happy with what his writing superpowers had already allowed him to achieve: he wanted more. So, in 1927 Simenon announced that he was going to write a novel in 24 hours. Sitting in a glass cage. In public. Furthermore, people watching would be able to decide the book’s characters and plot elements, presumably by banging on the glass and yelling things like “BAD GUY SHOULD BE MORE ITALIAN,” “SCENE NEEDS MORE PONIES,” and “ARE THERE GOING TO BE BUTT PICTURES?”
By other accounts, Simenon had 72 hours to write the book. But the stunt definitely involved a glass cage, and hopefully he got all the kinks worked out with the ventilation system, because as much as some people don’t like pretentious writers, no one really wants to watch them slowly asphyxiate in public.
The 24-hour novel stunt went awry when a terrorist broke into the cage and Simenon had to interrogate and finally kill him while exploring the moral boundaries of our post-9/11 Western society. Well, OK, no — the whole thing died with more of a quiet, whimpering fart than with a bang: the newspaper that planned to finance it went bankrupt. This was unfortunate for Simenon, but it was probably a good thing in the long run. I mean, think about what the world would be like if the “writers in glass cages” craze had taken off. I’m sure we’d get the next George R.R. Martin novel quicker, but it would probably involve a lot of human rights violations. Hey, that gives me an idea for a dystopian thriller novel.
In 2013, the Wall Street Journal noticed that several business-themed books had shot to the top of the paper’s bestseller lists, only to drop off quickly. Really quickly. In some cases, sales dropped so dramatically that less than a week after hitting the top of the bestseller list, more copies of these books were being returned to stores than were being sold. What was happening? Did the pages smell? Did it turn out that everything after page 63 was just scrawled racial slurs and bad pie recipes? Nope, the truth was far more sinister.
The authors of these quick-selling books had hired a marketing firm called ResultSource that had propelled them to the top of bestseller lists. They did this by buying up massive amounts of books, sending them out to dozens of addresses across America, and using hundreds of different payment methods to evade the statistical precautions that bestseller lists have in place to prevent shit like this. All authors had to do was hand over a hefty fee: getting onto the New York Times bestseller list with ResultSource would cost you about $200,000. Personally, I’d rather just keep the $200,000 and buy a robot butler that pretends to like my writing, but I guess my heart’s not really in the bestseller business.
Not long after the news came out, Seattle mega-church leader Mark Driscoll and Grace, his wife, were forced to apologize after it came out that they’d paid the company hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their book, Real Marriage, a New York Times bestseller. Since then, ResultSource seems to have disappeared to that big bulk-buying warehouse in the sky, so I guess rich wannabe authors have to content themselves with robot butlers.
A few years back, an Australian man named Brett De La Mare was having trouble finding a publisher for his novel Canine Dawn, which he described as a story set in the Australian bush that features plenty of of “sex, money, and adventure.” So he decided to edit the manuscript some more, develop a catchier hook, and maybe start on a new project in the hope of improving his craft. No, hang on. He decided to get attention for his manuscript by flying a motorized paraglider into the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
I’m not sure how De La Mare thought this would achieve his goal of getting his book published, because a story about Australians having sex in rural areas doesn’t have much to do with gliding into restricted buildings. It’s not like he was trying to get a deal for a book called How to Get Inside the Queen’s Laundry Room or My Life With Bad Impulse Control. If publishers gave out book deals on the basis of who happened to dramatically catch their attention during the working day, you could start a luminous career by simply visiting Random House’s headquarters in New York City and throwing cats at people. And, believe me, that doesn’t work. I know.
De La Mare had earlier tried a similar “publish me” stunt in New York, circling the Empire State Building in his glider before landing in a garbage bin outside a police station and being arrested. You’d think he would interpret that as God telling him to rethink his direction in life, but he didn’t, and he was arrested in London as well, with a palace spokesman remarking that the struggling author seemed “surprised by the vigor and speed of the police response.”
All things considered, though, De La Mare was lucky: both of his publicity attempts occurred in late 2000, so being arrested was the worst thing that happened to him. Try something like that these days and you’d be shot down by drones before you could say “Guantanamo.” It doesn’t work out that well for everyone.
In 2009, Australian lecturer and writer Harry Nicolaides was arrested in Thailand. Most foreigners who get arrested in Thailand at least get to enjoy some drugs shortly beforehand, but Nicolaides’ crime was far less enjoyable: several years earlier, he’d self-published a novel that contained a passage obliquely insulting the Thai royal family. This happens to be totally against the law in Thailand, where the king is revered as semi-divine. Seriously, it’s like going to a World Coffee Fan Convention and declaring that you prefer decaf Nescafe. You just don’t do it.
According to Heath Dollar, an old friend of Nicolaides’, the decision to break the law was a deliberate attempt to be arrested. Nicolaides, Dollar said, had confessed to him in the past that he believed the key to getting a publishing deal was creating a publicity stunt. He’d even admitted to Dollar that the anti-monarchy passage was a deliberate way to drum up talk about the novel.
Nicolaides’ stunt happened during a particularly harsh crackdown on printed “we hate the king” material. The writer was denied bail and sentenced to three years in a Thai prison, a place that ranks up there with “bovine anti-diarrhea-drug testing facility” in the category of places you probably don’t want to stay for three years. He was released after six months, but unless being kept in a crowded, unhygienic cell with murderers and rapists does a lot for your creative-writing juices, it still probably wasn’t worth it.
Here, I should also note that Nicolaides denied Dollar’s accusation that the passage was a publicity stunt and accused Dollar of making up the story so that he could further his own writing career. So I guess the next step is for someone to accuse me of inventing the entire Thai royal family to get another entry for this article. Come on, has anyone you know actually been to “Thailand”? Wake the hell up, people.
By Allison G. S. Knox, M.A., EMT-B, faculty member at American Military University
Most of the time, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics respond to non-urgent emergencies but there are also “rough” calls that are traumatic and disturbing. In recognition of National EMS Week and National Mental Health Month, EMTs must take a moment to realize that such traumatic calls may not bother them today, tomorrow, or next week. However, such calls have a way of seeping into the crevices of one’s subconscious and impacting a person months or even years down the road. Incidents can impact EMTs differently and for different reasons. Some EMTs are affected because of the mechanism of the injury, for a personal reason (i.e. EMTs who are parents responding to an injured child), or by calls that didn’t go as expected.
The Reality of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychological issue that can affect people who work in public safety communities. Whether a person is a service member, police officer, firefighter, or EMT—many suffer from PTSD.
I have often heard individuals say they think someone is suffering from PTSD shortly after an event. What we know about PTSD is that it often isn’t that fast-acting and there is no quick fix when it comes to treating someone suffering with it.
The Mayo Clinic explains: “PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it…Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD.” However, if a person’s symptoms worsen or last six months to a year, then they very well may have PTSD and should seek professional support.
PTSD typically strikes several months after an event and has terrible repercussions like sleep problems, anxiety, rage, and many other physical manifestations. Suffering from PTSD can be quite frightening and it often feels like psychological torture. Unfortunately, many individuals are too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone—even close friends and family.
[Related article: Silent Suffering: Warning Signs and Steps to Prevent Suicide]
If you suspect someone is suffering from PTSD, let him or her know that you care. Help the person to find a professional therapist, one who is trained specifically in combat-related PTSD and anxiety disorders. There are many great practitioners in the mental health field with many resources to address PTSD. Sometimes, those suffering just need a guiding light to a professional. Friends and family can be that light, but must be supportive and positive without including any judgment when talking to the person who is suffering.
[Related article: Critical Incident Stress Management Interventions Help Heal First Responders]
Public safety professionals must realize that they are only human and there will be scenes and calls that are too graphic to forget and may have a deep impact on them. Instead of allowing these situations to haunt one’s psyche and impact one’s life, seek support from a mental health professional—it is a sign of strength to ask for help.