Friday, February 26, 2010

Gotta Love Those Church Ladies . . .

They're back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for church
Ladies with typewriters... These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS)
actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight:
'Searching for Jesus.'

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving
obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the
help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the
church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music
will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?'
Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of
several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased
person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and
gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies
are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would
lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church
basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church.
Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last
Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours".
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Friday, February 19, 2010

AC's Spin the Wheel Contest Winner: Human History, by Kate Mahoney

All the contestants for the "Spin the Wheel Contest," featuring Andrew Boseley's writers' prompt creation, The Brainstormer, were unique and fun to read. But we have to say congrats to Kate Mahoney! Her prompts were self-sacrifice, dystopian, and UN conference room, and she created a gripping 833-word story with them.

Kate is 22 and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. In between tossing resumes to the wind, she enjoys writing and running. Her fondest ambition (other than finally being able to move out of her parent’s house) is to be a published author, and her biggest vice is the lure of books when she should otherwise be looking on Monster.

Unemployment aside, she does secretly love being at home, because home is where the cats are; Blackie, Misty, and Roger, who are as much a part of the family as its human members.

Her blog, ruminates on topics as diverse as her writing travails and the uncovering of her computer’s plot to one day take over the world (or at least her bedroom).

For her work, she wins the AuthorCulture coffee mug, a book of her choice either by K.M. Weiland or Lynnette Bonner, and a post here as well as in 777 Peppermint Place and Andrew Bosley's Sketch Hunter.

Human History
Rafil had never been a leader. He was only a soldier.

He was only a man.

And he was now the last. Of that, he was fairly sure.

It was a heavy burden to bear; he was not quite twenty-four.

Thirty-eight years ago, the war began. A faceless, voiceless, bodiless force of a hundred million billion against a few thousand who wanted to remain men. The conclusion was never in doubt, but for thirty-eight years they fought.

It was all Rafil had ever known.

Yet even now, caught and facing death -- or worse than death -- Rafil couldn’t help but marvel. For a moment, he could pretend he was here three hundred years ago. He thought he could hear the echoes of their proud voices.

The walls were paneled and the carpet lush beneath his feet. Those in the room were beneath his gaze; it was the pictures hanging on the wall which drew his eye: the dozens of men and women who had held the proud title of Secretary-General. Their eyes seemed to follow him as he walked towards the five men sitting against the far-most wall.

Uploading an entire consciousness became practical for all mankind thirty-nine years ago. Over eight billion chose it; it promised a life free from want and desperation in a world that loved mankind no longer. None had realized the five strongest-willed could dominate; could usurp the global consciousness and use the others as no more than pawns whose minds could be downloaded into pre-grown bodies at their whim.

He had seen the factories from which the bodies came; endless assembly lines with bodies hanging from hooks like in a butchers’. Feet lolling, heads bowed against their chests. Bodies made not from human flesh, but a cool, soft plastic. It had been his pleasure to burn those factories. The plastic melted like wax.

And he had seen what they became. The rooms where they became human -- filling stations. Bodies -- blanks, the resistance called them -- on hands and knees with the plug in the base of their bald skulls. Their slack faces and eyes rolled so far back into their heads that only the whites were visible had given him nightmares for weeks. It meant nothing to kill a blank. He lost count before his fourteenth birthday.

The wear-stains on the carpet indicated there had been a table across the center of the room, but he walked across them. The only table now was the one the five sat behind. His eyes were on the floor. He didn’t want to look into their dead eyes; the eyes of eight billion lost souls.

One of them spoke, but the words washed over him in a wave; a dull monotone of white noise. He turned away from them. A hand on his shoulder -- one of the blanks which had brought him here -- threw him to the ground with strength he knew he could never possess.

This close to the floor, he could see the age of the carpet, wearing thin. It would never be replaced. After this, they would never use this building again. It was only members of the resistance who came here to die, to the building that was once the UN. Now it was more like a tomb. It was only thinking men who had any concept of history.

History would end today.

Once, men had stood straight here and so he rose, standing as tall as he could. They wore clean clothes, and so he tried to brush the dirt from his, smoothing out years of wrinkles. There was nothing he could do about the mess of stubble on his face, but some of the men in the pictures wore beards, so he was not ashamed. The shoes he wore were scuffed and much-repaired, but none of these pictures showed the men and women shod, either.

If this was the end of history, the end of thinking, feeling, bleeding, loving man, then he could not let this last act – an act which would never be spoken, written, or heard of – be simply his forced uploading.

They hadn’t searched him well; the blanks were just bodies. They made sure he didn’t have a bomb or a gun, to kill the five men that mattered, but that was it.

It was only after he slid the knife out from under the sleeve of his shirt that he looked at the five men. Really looked. He saw the emptiness behind their eyes and the slackness of their skin, the carelessly bad fitting of their clothes and the lank greasiness of their oiled hair. They were pathetic pretenses of men.

He kept his eyes on them as he raised the knife. His heart beat staccato in his throat.

A human heart. Not their cold mechanical pumps.

When the blood -- red human blood, not the blanks’ black -- came rushing out, it stained the pale carpet. Some of it soaked through to the wood beneath.

They burned the body, of course.

We at AuthorCulture would like to thank Andrew Bosley for the use of his fun Brainstormer wheel. Keep an eye out--Andrew is developing an iPhone app which should be available soon!
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Post w/ Jennifer Wessner ~ Marketing Director for OakTara Publishing

The publishing world can be a pretty dreary place these days. It seems that everyone is losing their jobs and no new authors are even being considered for publication. Ramona Tucker, a renowned book editor with over twenty years of experience, grew frustrated with the limitations and lack of risks the industry was taking. She knew there was a place in the market for a company that was willing to take risks on talented, new authors and compelling, boundary pushing fiction. So in 2006 she quit her fulltime job at Christianity Today and opened her own publishing company with Jeff Nesbit, a prolific author with over 17 novels to his credit. Jeff brought the author’s prospective and business savvy and Ramona brought her editorial experience to the new venture that became OakTara Publishers.

OakTara has published over 120 books in the three short years since its inception. A large percentage of the books are from first time authors. Ramona and Jeff believe strongly in giving new talent a platform. The biggest shock is that as a result of publishing unknown authors the company is actually growing! And growing and growing and growing! For OakTara, it is an exciting time to be in the book-publishing world!

The fun part of being on the ground floor of a new forward thinking company is the ability to think outside the box. Jeff and Ramona are passionate about new media and see its potential to expand the company and connect with readers. We are in the beginning stages of rolling out a complete Internet presence. Currently we have a Twitter account, Facebook account, and Youtube channel for our book trailers. We are using these mediums to respond to new authors’ questions and to engage new readers. We hope to use the Facebook page more in the future to keep those interested in OakTara updated on the company, where authors’ book signings are taking place, giveaways, and much more. We also have a Scribd account where we post previews of our newest novels. We are also hoping to roll out a blog in the next month or so. The blog will give our authors a platform for increased exposure and give others the opportunity to hear directly from Ramona and Jeff. For me, that’s the best thing about blogs. The opportunity to connect with people otherwise inaccessible to me is the real brilliance of new media.

The unique way new media requires people and companies to constantly adapt and change their business models is what has most publishing companies running scared. At OakTara, we are trying to embrace this shift and are excited about the possibilities. And we are always open to new suggestions! Let us know if you have a great idea that we haven’t tried yet!

If you want to learn about Oaktara, head to our website at

I can be reached via email at: I can also be reached on twitter at: and on Facebook at:

If you want to take a look at all our social media channels, they are listed on the left-hand side of our home page.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Interview With Frugal Book Promoter Author Carolyn Howard-Johnson

An instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renowned Writers’ Program, Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t was named USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book.” The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, her second book in the How To Do It Frugally series, is also a USA Book News and Reader View's Literary Award winner. She is a popular speaker and actor and indefatigable source of encouragement and information for authors-cum-marketers. For more information about the literature and services she offers writers, visit her website.

AC: What is your background as an author and a marketer? What got you started down the path of frugal self-promotion?

CH-J: I got started in journalism in high school. I associate journalism with advertising. To a great extent one depends on the other—though ethically there should be a good deal of separation between the two. Then I went into publicity—true public relations. And then into retailing which required marketing—lots of it. One piggy-backed on the other. When I came back to being an author for real, it wasn’t much of a jump to realize that those earlier fields were related to that, too. Especially when my novel started falling into oblivion!

AC: If you could start your marketing career over again, what one thing would you do differently?

CH-J: I wouldn’t. I am a great believer that the universe arranges things just as they should be. At least on the finite level. At least for people who listen to its song. If we keep ourselves focused on what we can change (ourselves) and not what we can’t (others), we begin to see that everything—even illness, even accident, even death—can be positive forces.

Having said that, one of the best things I ever did was take Public Relations 101 as a junior at USC. Any field a person goes into—even engineering—can benefit from a few marketing skills. I’m always impressed by the sound bites that the NASA scientists come up with that capture the interest (and support) of the public.

AC: Tell us a little about the products (books, newsletter, etc.) you offer to writers who want to promote their work.

CH-J: Oh, you really don’t want a list. By browsing my website, you can find a bunch of them. But I am excited about Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Booboos Your Readers and Publishing Professionals Hate. I’m formatting it right now for publication. I haven’t decided how I’m going to market it. I may sell the paperback booklets for the lowest price I can and give away the e-books and Kindle editions.

AC: What’s the single most important thing a writer needs to do to promote his book?

CH-J: Stick with it and don’t try to justify everything by the number of books sold. We are building careers, not selling books. Even when we handle book sales ourselves by taking orders, packing them, and posting them. If we keep our career goal in site, eventually our books will do well. Maybe not the first book. Maybe not the second. But one day. [Alice Sebold’s] The Lovely Bones, now a movie, looked like an overnight success when it first hit bestseller lists, but the author had written several books and studied her craft. She also knows promotion or hired people who do.

AC: Writing and marketing are both full-time jobs by themselves. How is it possible for authors to find time to do both effectively?

CH-J: Ahhh, the old balancing act. It’s like the process of writing. Each of us has to find our own way. I still haven’t gotten good at balancing.

AC: If an author can afford a publicist, do you feel that’s a wise move? Or is the author better off spending his money in self-promotion?

CH-J: Authors—until they have a handle on the profit their book will make—should spend as little as possible on anything. Thus the How To Do It Frugally theme of my series of how-to books for writers. Really, when it gets right down to it, no one else can know your book as you know it, have the same passion for your book as you do. Whether an author publishes traditionally or self-publishes and hires help, the whole process will be more successful if he or she involves herself. I spend a good bit of time on why that is in The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t.

I should add that no one path is right for every title. One should consider the personality of the author, his or her goals, and his or her pocketbook. Oh, yeah. The title itself. In fact, that is one place a new author might spend a little money. That is, to get some good advice about the entire process before he spends any more.

AC: In this digital age, online marketing seems to be taking over. How important are personal appearances (book launches, book signings, etc.) in comparison?

CH-J: I agree. At one time, a book couldn’t make it without great print reviews. Now one can get reviews far more easily on blogs and other review websites. And there are soooo many ways to promote. Authors who say they hate promotion don’t know what promotion is. If they love to write, they can promote. There is a chapter on putting that skill to work for them in The Frugal Book Promoter along with specific ways to do it. The shy among us can promote sitting behind the screen of our computers. You and I are doing that right now.

AC: What’s the first thing an author just entering the battle zone of marketing needs to do?

CH-J: Know it is never too late to start. It’s also never too early. After that, take classes. There are free online seminars like the one I cosponsor with Lea Schizas. Or spend a little at the university level to assure vetted teachers. I’m teaching one for UCLA Writers’ Program this August. Or buy books. Books are bargains when it comes to learning. But then you knew that.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Fabulously Fun Friday - 307th Book

Just a note: I am posting this video for its humor and in no way intend this as a put-down of Stephanie Meyer, whose books I have not yet read.

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