Members of Texas Authors, Inc., are welcome to post on our blog for other fellow members, or for the general public.
Each blog post will be approved by the website administrator and must not contain promotion of ones book. This is meant as an educational posting program.
By: Laura Oles | January 19, 2018 Originally published in Writers Digest
For the last twenty years, Port Aransas, Tex., has served as my weekend retreat. When life gets hectic, my family leaves the hill country for the Gulf coast. I know where to find the best coffee, the freshest shrimp and chicken tortilla soup so flavorful that it has its own fan club.
Over the years, I began to imagine an alternate universe to Port Aransas. Stories surfaced in my mind like dolphins dancing between the ferry boats in the nearby ship channel. I took my beloved family-friendly beach retreat and created Port Alene, a fictional sister town with a darker side. As I watched my kids fishing in the ocean, my mind built a new world filled with characters making deals, sharing secrets and selling something extra at the local bait shop.
I realized that my coastal hideaway was the perfect setting for my new Jamie Rush mystery series. Jamie is a skip tracer—someone who tracks the missing and those who wish not to be found. DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN found its story anchored in Port Alene’s dual personality, one that combined a tourist destination with a grittier underworld. While I didn’t have a master plan, I did establish a few guidelines.
NOT A TWIN, BUT A SIBLING
When creating Port Alene, I decided it would not be an exact replica of the locale I loved. It was important that Port Aransas not be merely plucked out of real life and dropped into my mystery with little more than a name change. Instead, I took key areas—the main road running through town, a neighborhood I know well, and the beach area by mile marker 77—and played with them until they fit into the story. I drew my own maps of Port Alene, fashioning roads and landmarks, bars and restaurants, bait shops and trinket traps. My protagonist needed these locations because they would prove important in her life. She just didn’t know it yet.
SETTING AS CHARACTER
The sensation of beach life is something that lingers long after your toes leave the sand. I wanted to capture the town’s essence. The humidity follows you like a jealous boyfriend, even moments after you’ve walked into an air-conditioned room. There’s no such thing as a good hair day, and you couldn’t care less. And most everyone wears flip-flops and shorts, even in the winter. Port Alene is as important a character as any other in my book.
The term “island time” is meant to remind guests to relax, to not be in a hurry unless there’s a fire or happy hour at Trout Street is about to end. The only people in a rush are the fishermen up long before sunrise to claim the best bait. It takes twice as long to drink a cup of coffee than it does on the mainland; locals get work done without racing the clock. The challenge was to honor the concept of island time while keeping the story moving at a quick pace. The action needed to escalate while the town took its own sweet time.
Several of Jamie’s preferred places are inspired by my own, including the best Tex-Mex restaurant south of San Antonio. Hemingway’s Pier, Jamie’s favorite haunt and also her home—her apartment is located in the bar’s loft—is my way of giving the characters their own version of Cheers, but with lousy lighting and a beloved bulldog named Deuce. He loves the jalapeno poppers.
While Port Alene remains as I left her, Port Aransas, her inspiration, has not been so fortunate. On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey tore through the heart of the town, the eye hitting with such force that little remains. Harvey scattered boats like leaves—in front a beloved coffee shop, in a nearby neighborhood, beached on a random patch of grass. Homes and businesses remain damaged or destroyed, and the community has been left to rebuild without the benefit of media attention. Those who claim Port Aransas as a second home know it will return stronger than ever, with the help and support of locals and volunteers from near and far. But it will take time.
For now, I’m keeping the coastal refuge I love alive through Jamie Rush and her dangerous calling. It’s my way of celebrating Port Aransas until it can once again welcome its residents and guests with open arms and open businesses.
Net Neutrality is a political hot button that is used to divided our nation even further. While we don’t want to get into the Republican vs Democrats points, what is critical is that this issue can cause Indie Authors, and even small press Authors to lose valuable sales.
With internet providers now being able to charge both the providers of content as well as those who receive the content, this gives them the ability to manipulate what you see. Not only is this a free Speech issue, but it also relates to if and how an Authors website is viewed. The providers can charge each individual website an extra fee to be able to be delivered to homes at the normal speed, and if you don’t pay, then you get downgraded to a slower speed, which let’s face it, this means the person downloading an authors site will give up waiting for it and move on. That means YOU LOSE!
In addition, the provider can charge more for a site to speed through their system and be delivered quickly and effortlessly. This, then gets passed on to the users of that system, such as Amazon sellers. More cuts into the profit margin of Authors and sellers.
This is BAD for everyone with higher costs to promote their products, means higher cost to purchase their products. Net neutrality from our perspective as small businesses is bad for everyone: Buyers and Sellers.
Publishers Weekly encouraging publishers to step up and fight the change that was implemented by the FCC last month. We encourage you as small businesses to step up and let your Congressmen know how it will affect you.
Below is an article that appeared in Publishers Weekly encouraging publishers to step up and fight the change that was implemented by the FCC last month. We encourage you as small businesses to step up and let your Congressmen know how it will affect you.
It’s Time for Publishers to Join the Fight for Net Neutrality
by Publishers Weekly | Jan 19, 2018
Supporters of net neutrality marked two important developments in recent days. On Tuesday, January 16, it was revealed that 50 senators have now committed to a bill that would block the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) December repeal of net neutrality rules. In addition, as the New York Times reported, more than 20 states have now begun a battle in the courts to block the FCC’s repeal.
Codified by the FCC in 2015, net neutrality rules were created to keep Internet service providers from favoring certain websites or content over others. But, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Corynne McSherry explains, the FCC’s repeal last month now paves the way “for an Internet that works more like cable television;” a “pay-for-play” system where content providers could be forced to “negotiate with multiple ISPs to avoid their content being buried, degraded, or even blocked.”
Polls and public comments show the move to repeal net neutrality is broadly unpopular. It is also potentially dangerous. In comments to the FCC, a coalition of the nation’s top library associations stressed that preserving an open Internet is “essential to our nation’s freedom of speech.” And, in a letter to the FCC, 1,838 members of the Authors Guild demonstrated that American authors also unequivocally recognize the danger of the FCC’s action.
“As authors, we rely on the Internet to make our voices heard,” the guild letter states, concluding that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections “will harm the free speech of American writers.”
But a key voice remains noticeably absent from the net neutrality debate: publishers. Despite widely expressed concerns that the FCC’s action could negatively impact free speech, and in contrast to concerted efforts to preserve net neutrality by others in the publishing ecosystem—including the library community, authors groups, and dozens of media and public advocacy organizations, including PEN America—the Association of American Publishers has yet to release a single statement on the issue and has taken no formal position.
We recognize that publishers and the AAP have limited resources and must prioritize the issues they choose to take on. However, supporting free speech is one of the AAP’s core policy areas. Which is why publishers can no longer sit this one out.
Following the FCC’s repeal, restoring net neutrality protections is going to be an uphill political battle. But it is not too late for publishers to stand up for free speech, and to stand with their readers, their authors, and the library community.
With the battle headed to Congress, now is the time to make that stand. AAP president and CEO Maria Pallante is widely known for her policy acumen and her relationships in Congress. And as widely recognized champions of free speech, a strong, unified statement from America’s book publishers can make a critical difference.
There is no doubt that the world has gone crazy with Social Media. It can be a great tool that supports people, businesses, and even authors, but it also has the power to hurt. A challenging aspect of Social Media is when authors tell the world about something doesn’t work for them and then determines that it will not work for others. This kind of dialogue can not only damage a fellow author but set a negative tone against the author who wrote it.
We run into this issue a great deal when we send out notices about a program or app that we’ve tried and does or doesn’t work for us. We do this only after testing it thoroughly. And as with anything, the results that we arrived at, may or may not work for someone else.
However, this is where reviews of products come in handy, and we encourage YOU the membership, to share your comments about a program, event, etc. and let other authors know what YOUR results are. Your honest review can help another author determine if that program, event, company, or app will work for them.
We also read and follow various journals and programs to stay on top of new trends to help guide the membership, so they can use Social Media to the best of their ability.
There is a move to become less engaged in Social Media with Facebook and Twitter being the ones hit the hardest, as they have been around the longest. Also, they are the ones that have the most users compared to the other 300 plus systems out there.
One of our goals as TxAuthors is to create a Social Media system designed specifically for authors and readers as a part of our overall program to be more creative, independent and supportive of authors in general. However, this is also a costly endeavor that may not happen soon enough.
Keep in mind that people are drawn to what they like, including what type of books they read. For this reason, what may work for one author may not work for another. So, just be careful when you are on Social Media and make a blanket comment about whether something is good or not as the ‘final and only’ go-to factor. Remember, you are unique, and your results are related to You and not someone else.