MIND LIKE WATER MONTHLY
Dedicated to helping the ebook community.
Issue # 6: August 15, 2002
Publisher: Mind Like Water, Inc.
Hi, and welcome to another issue of the Mind Like Water Monthly. If you want to catch up on back issues,
please visit http://www.mindlikewater.com/newsletter.html.
My family and I just spent a relaxing few days in the
mountains of Arkansas. A little
horseback riding, hiking (don't tell my doctor
or physical therapist), swimming, camping and mineral hunting.
I hope you all have had a chance to get away or just relax
for a few minutes. Sometimes we get caught up in the machine
of life and need time to reflect.
Watch for changes in our ebook directory this month! We
are trying to "catch more
fish" by expanding the topics in our directory.
Our fish are readers, who we hope will help our authors
and the ebook community in general. We are adding subcategories
for each of the major genres, deleting prices from ebook
title information, and making some other minor changes. We also
recently revised our ebook submittal form to make it more user
Table of Contents
1. Feature Article: To Catch More Fish, You Need a Bigger Net
2. eBook Author Interview: Marsha Briscoe, A Still Point in Time and A Family Matter
3. Tip of the Month
4. eBook Author Interview: Jonathan Lyons, Burn
Feature Article: To Catch More Fish, You Need a Bigger Net
Here's a question to ponder. What do you as an ebook author do best?
This is a trick question, right? Well, the answer is quite simple.
You write content.
Normally, an author thinks in terms of his/her next
novel, short story or
nonfiction topic. I challenge you to think in terms of marketing
yourself and your products. Write short, topical pieces and
informational factoids that can be used on your web site to attract
users. If you don't have a web site or are limited by a publisher,
please contact me about adding content pages on Mind Like
Let's say you are a fiction writer and your latest novel
takes place in France during
World War II. The story is compelling and you
have received accolades. You are even selling a few copies here
I believe you need a bigger net. Create your net by
writing content pages of no
more than about 250 words with only one topic or
keyword phrase in mind. Make sure that you include your keyword
phrase in the title of the page and in the HTML title. Also,
be sure to sprinkle your keyword phrase several times within
the text to help increase your "keyword density."
Where do you find your topics? Right in your own ebook.
Scan through your own ebook and pick out at least 10 to
20 topics that you either have
done research on for your book or that you can
research now. Even if you write fiction, your novel may be full
of historical, scientific or other content that web users would
love. Think in terms of the interest level of a web surfer, but
temper that with the fact that you are not going to get ranked
very high for generic terms like "France." You may get ranked
high for a phrase like "History of France during World War II."
Write as many keyword-specific web pages as possible.
Next, see if you can get any
ezines, newsletters or other web sites to publish
your material for free (as long as you get to include a link
to your book or web site). Take it a step further and join in
on a few newsgroups or discussion groups related to your topics.
At Mind Like Water, we have found this to be the most
successful strategy for getting
listed high on search engines and selling our
products. It's not a difficult thing to do, but few people do it
because it requires effort.
In short, start writing more and more content and catch
** Special Opportunity **
For a limited time only we are offering our comprehensive manual called
Supercharge Your eBook Profits at a 40 percent discount. This
ebook teaches you how to write winning sales pitches, find effective
keywords, get listed high on the most popular search engines
and much more. This ebook is based on several years of research
by Mind Like Water staff. This offer is only available for
the next two weeks. Please contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit http://www.mindlikewater.com/ebooks/supercharge_ebooks/index.html.
eBook Author Interview: Marsha Briscoe, A Still Point in Time and A
Diane: I see that you are a member of the Romance Writers of America,
and that you served as an officer of your local Kentucky chapter.
What is the value to authors of joining this or other such
Marsha: Membership in a writer's organization provides
the author an opportunity for
networking, promotes a sense of professionalism,
offers updates in the publishing industry, and fosters
a sense of community. This sense of community helps alleviate
the solitude and isolation that writers may often experience.
Diane: You were a published poet and essayist before you
wrote your first novel, A
Still Point in Time -- a reincarnation romance
whose plot came to you in a dream. What were the challenges
in transitioning to a different genre?
Marsha: The challenges involved in the transition from
writing traditional metrical
poetry (mainly in the sonnet form) and expository
writing proved to be invigorating. The biggest obstacle
I had to overcome was shedding my trained formal style of
academic writing -- a style that often imposes an emotional distance
between the reader and the work.
Reading and writing have always been prominent in my
life. Although I had written
and published poems, book reviews, and academic
articles earlier, I was a late-comer to fiction writing. But
I'd always promised myself that someday I would write a novel.
It was not until 1993, however, while I was teaching college
English at a local university that I decided to actually tackle
Little did I know how difficult writing a novel would
prove to be! I almost quit.
Then one night not long after I'd drafted an early
chapter, I had a dream about the Pre-Raphaelite artist and Victorian
poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his beloved model and lover,
Elizabeth Siddal. The twelve stormy years of passion and pain
engulfing these two historical yet legendary characters began
to haunt me and I felt compelled to weave their story into the
fabric of my reincarnation novel's past life characters. Thus was
borne the real impetus for me to complete my book. The more I delved
into the actual lives of Dante and Elizabeth, the more I saw
startling coincidences between their tempestuous love and what
was happening between my 20th century English professor, Laura Bouvoire, and the college student named Dante.
Yet I still didn't really have a handle on crafting
fiction, so I started reading
several books on the art of writing fiction. (Although
I felt confident in teaching literature and expository writing,
nothing in my ninety-plus hours of undergraduate and graduate
English courses had prepared me to actually write novel-length fiction.) After
about six revisions of my A Still Point in
Time, I finally honed my craft enough that I considered my book
publishable. Of course, when I began submitting to New York, I
collected enough rejections to paper the proverbial bathroom ceiling.
But I did apply to my plot nearly every suggestion those rejecting
Then I discovered e-publishers and was enchanted by the
advantages which e-publishing offers,
advantages such as "shelf" longevity
and global sales. After my reincarnation romance was contracted
by RFI West and the attendant validation I felt as a writer
sank in, I was so hooked on writing fiction that I wrote my
second novel, A Family Matter, which was released in June 2002
from RFI West.
Diane: I read that your second novel, a romantic mystery
entitled A Family Matter,
is a modern treatment of the ancient Greek Phaedra
myth. Tell us about this myth, and why it appealed to you as
a contemporary writer. Was there something about the myth that led
you to choose the eastern Kentucky coalfields as the novel's setting,
or did the fact that you live in Kentucky influence your choice?
Marsha: The Phaedra myth has been treated by various
writers over the centuries,
from Euripides in 428 B.C. to Racine in the 17th century
to Eugene O'Neill in 1924, to name a few. In this archetypal
myth, the young Phaedra, princess of Crete and daughter
of King Minos, marries King Theseus and lives with him in
Greece. When her husband Theseus is away for several months, Phaedra
falls in love with her grown stepson, Hippolytus.
The following background (which I present along
with a genealogy chart at the end of
my novel, A Family Matter) will shed more light
on the full myth:
After Theseus slew the Minotaur, he eloped with Ariadne
(who earlier had led him with a
piece of string through the labyrinth that
housed the feared Minotaur), but he left her on an island and
returned to Crete to capture Phaedra's affection.
Some years prior to the time that he wooed the sisters
Ariadne and Phaedra, Theseus
had an affair with the Amazon woman Antiope, who
later bore his illegitimate son, Hippolytus.
Eventually securing the hand of Phaedra
from her father King Minos,
Theseus took Phaedra to his homeland in Greece where, after
the death of his father King Aegeus, she reigned, content and
happy, by the side of her husband King Theseus in the Royal Palace
at Troezen near Athens. Until, that is, the day when Hippolytus,
grown to manhood, wanders to his absent father's Royal
Palace and meets his stepmother, Phaedra, for the first time.
Soon after that fated day, a storm gathers. Phaedra and Hippolytus
fall in love, but Phaedra is so plagued with guilt over
the incestuous love, she grows ill and eventually commits suicide.
When King Theseus returns from a visit to the underworld,
he discovers the illicit affair and banishes his son Hippolytus.
Hippolytus leaves, driving his chariot along a rutted seaside
road, not knowing that King Theseus has called upon the sea
god Poseidon to cause a massive wave to rise up from the sea and
overtake Hippolytus' horse-drawn chariot. The horses bolt as the
water crashes down upon them. Hippolytus, caught in the reins and
dragged against rocks, is mortally wounded.
Why did this myth appeal to me as a contemporary writer?
The tragic story of Phaedra and
Hippolytus appeals to me because of the
archetypes embodied in this myth and its various treatments. Myths
have long been considered attempts to explain human behavior
and when those myths involve archetypal patterns, they unconsciously
or subconsciously touch chords in what Carl Jung called
the "basement" of our minds -- that collective memory of the human race. It is, however, essential
when writing a contemporary
treatment of an ancient legend or myth that the modern
re-telling stand alone as a story. The writer cannot assume
that readers will be familiar with that old legend or myth.
I happened to be teaching Racine's 17th century play, Phaedra,
a few years back when the idea of writing a
contemporary re-telling of this ancient myth struck me. My idea was confirmed when a month later I read Jane Smiley's
novel, A Thousand Acres,
which is a modern telling of the King Lear story. Smiley's
success in her contemporary treatment of King Lear dividing
his vast land holdings among his three daughters inspired
me to write A Family Matter. I chose to set this second
novel in the 1990's eastern Kentucky coal fields because (1)
my father was a Civil and Mining Engineer and the owner-operator of eastern
Kentucky coal mines many years ago, and hence,
I had some first-hand knowledge of the goings-on in the coal
business; (2) I could envision a ruthless coal baron whose mines
fueled the economy and whose power led him to be known as "King
of Coal"; and (3) I saw obvious parallels between the underground
mines where A Family Matter's hero searches through the
dark, labyrinthine tunnels for his mysteriously missing father
and the descent of King Theseus into the Underworld. The prolonged
absence of Theseus while he was in the Underworld and the
lengthy absence of Mick's father paved the way for the young wives
left behind to fall in love with the grown stepsons.
Diane: I came across this tidbit on the Internet:
-- Authority on Arthurian Legends." We have T. H.
Once and Future King and Mark Twain's A Connecticut
King Arthur's Court. Any thoughts of putting your own
spin on the tales of Camelot in a novel? What can readers look
forward to next from you?
Marsha: I do not know where on the Internet it says that
Marsha Briscoe is an "authority" on Arthurian Legends.
I have taught the Arthurian legends in my college literature courses and in
high school Advanced Placement English courses. I am
conversant with the various treatments of those legends from Chretien de
Troyes to Mallory to Tennyson to T. H. White and I thoroughly
enjoy teaching that material. When I can find the time and
recall the muse, I hope to write a contemporary treatment of one
facet of the legends -- particularly one that brings in the Fisher
King myth, the Grail Legends, if you will. Currently, I am
busy editing books for a publishing company and my muse has temporarily fled. But don't ask me how I get my creative
juices flowing. I do know I cannot force those bursts of
creativity; they just happen when they happen. When the muse deserts
me, on occasion I have felt like the narrator in Coleridge's
"Kubhla Kahn," whose vision of an Absinnian maid (his muse)
vanished when he was interrupted and he later realizes that if he could
revive the music the maid played on her dulcimer, his creativity
would return and he could reproduce in his writing that
"sunny dome! those caves of ice!" In other words, the poet
reveals that if he could only recapture the inspiration once afforded him by
the music of the "Abyssinian maid," he could
succeed in his creative effort. So too at times have I hoped to recapture the
inspiration that drove my first two novels.
-- Marsha Briscoe
For more information about Marsha's two novels, visit her
author website at http://www.marshabriscoe.com.
Marsha's email address is email@example.com.
And be sure to visit Marsha's publisher, RFI West, at http://www.rfiwest.com.
Why advertise in the Mind Like Water Monthly?
Online newsletters tend to narrowly focus their content
to meet the needs and capture the loyalty of a very specific
readership ... giving you the perfect opportunity to get your ad in
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information about advertising with us, please send an email to
Tip of the Month
You can take a vacation during July. Based upon our
research, July tends to be the slowest month for sales of online
eBook Author Interview: Jonathan Lyons, Burn
Diane: Your science fiction noir Burn is set in "a
surreal twenty-first century full of androids, binaries, chip
trippers, NewSchool Grrls and Morlocks, black acid rain and
StellarNet obsession...." (Domhan Books) What did you draw upon
to create this imaginary world?
Jonathan: Quite a lot of things, really. Growing up in
the '80s, under the looming cloud of the Cold War, many people of
my generation were convinced that a nuclear war was
inevitable in our lifetime. A poll conducted by Time Magazine found a surprising number of Gen Xers -- something like 50 percent
-- thought so. A 1982 nationwide survey ranked nuclear war
as the nation's number-one concern.
Fast-forward to the mid-'80s. Environmentalism was
beginning to take root as Americans began to realize that it was
possible to do enough damage to the air we breathe, water we drink,
and planet we live on to endanger us. My generation watched
as politicians managed to take serious signs of
environmental damage and transform them into mere political disagreements. The
hole in the ozone layer and global temperatures that had risen
markedly since the start of the industrial revolution come to
mind. By simply denying that they were happening (as happened with
global warming) or claiming that they were a politically
motivated fiction concocted by NASA (as was said by some when
satellite photos began to be released showing the hole in the ozone
layer growing), they managed to turn very real problems into
the same sort of debate we always hear between the right and left.
We were crashing the environment we depend upon to
survive, and '80s-era politicians pretended it wasn't true so that
they (and we) wouldn't have to help pay to fix the problems. A lot
of people stopped paying attention when the politicians told
them not to worry.
We saw these things happening and knew, as we have always
known, that we would be the ones who would have to clean it up.
Bankrupt Social Security? Not their problem -- they'll be gone
before it runs out. Environmental issues? Only whacko tree huggers,
we were told, care about that.
In one exchange on global warming a conservative
commentator trotted out the line-to-toe du jour: Even if the worst environmental predictions were to come true, it would
just mean Miami-like weather in New York.
A more informed commentator replied that while this was
true, New York would also be under 120 feet of water under that
much of an increase in global temperatures. There's a great deal
more to it, but you get the idea.
I began to think about New York City in transition -- not
at the end of those worst predictions, but in the middle
somewhere, while they're taking place. More smog in the atmosphere
combining with more water vapor to produce an impenetrable,
unending, raining night -- an environmental apocalypse in progress
happened to set the scene in a way that parallels the old
black-and-white tradition of the film noir. This led to me thinking of
the film noir of the past as a template to work from for a future
noir -- a technoir.
The rest was just me spending hours on end thinking about
the logical evolution of society as a result of current
trends: Microsoft constantly taking over markets by producing
less- functional knock-offs of software, then making their
knock-off the system's default application for that task; ever more expensive and ever more necessary higher education
leading to rogue free schools, such as that run by the militant
NewSchool Grrls; the Morlocks arising out of predictions for the
future of recombinant DNA, with which it is theorized we could
actually be able to change our physical characteristics.
It didn't hurt that I was working a late shift as a copy
editor, and as such wrote much of the book late at night.
Diane: I love the opening line to Burn: "Outside,
it rained a black rain again." What do you feel are the
qualities of a great first sentence in a novel? Can you describe what you were
trying to evoke with the opening line to Burn?
Jonathan: The most important thing a writer can do is
engage the reader's interest. Forget a great evolution in the story
within 50 pages, think about the perfect opening word to hook
them. Now that's a feat!
I remember reading once that when William Gibson wrote
Neuromancer, the award-winning novel that for many
heralded the arrival of cyberpunk, he was so concerned with the need
to keep the reader engaged that he tried to get some sort of hook
on every single page!
The book begins with the line you quoted, but the second
line helps set up the tone as well:
"Outside, it rained a black rain again.
Outside, it was still dark, still the dirty-gray
near-night of the best-lit days of Old
In starting Burn with these lines, I set the tone for
the novel: It is still night time (How long has it been dark
out?), still raining (How long has it been raining?); it is
raining a filthy rain in a dark night out there. Looking out the
window, you can imagine the slick, somewhat reflective
post-cityscape glistening like molten lead in the night
-- just as it
always does. It sets the novel in a black and white world that
is related to that of the Philip Marlowe detective series
and other film noirs, but with a twist that aligns it with the
worlds of environmental apocalypse novels, such as John Brunner's
prophetic The Sheep Look Up, as well.
Diane: The official web site of Burn has links to
several reviews. In terms of your overall marketing strategy, how important are these reviews? Can you share any advice for
getting a book reviewed?
Jonathan: I feel that getting your books reviewed and
getting those reviews into readers' hands are both absolutely
vital; it's a big literary world out there. We went looking for
reviewers, for magazines and newspapers and webzines that do book
reviews, and sent out dozens of copies to make it happen.
Diane: I read that your third novel will be a return to
the world of Burn. What should authors consider when deciding
whether or not to write a sequel?
Jonathan: I set out to have the Cage/Jonny Cache
technoirs be a series that crosses genres. This one is science
fiction/technoir, murder mystery, literary fiction, and paranormal
deals with spontaneous human combustion as a way of committing
murder. Future novels will remain in this hybrid of genres,
dealing with the crashing environment and more possibly paranormal
issues. The decision of whether to write a sequel is the author's
alone (usually -- I get the sense that some of the
biggest-selling authors are having less-than-stellar novels dragged out
of them to fulfill contract or market demands). I say it is the
author's decision because it involves planning out past the length
of a single book-length story, and because the author must
feel good about the sequel story if s/he expects that story to be
in line with the best work they can produce.
Diane: Burn, your first published novel, is available
in a variety of ebook formats, as well as hardcover and
paperback. What was your experience within the epublishing industry
like, compared to your experience within the print publishing
Jonathan: With both being handled by a single publisher,
I would say that I have had the small-press experience; a novel I
worked at and tweaked until I felt I was ready to share it was
accepted in a highly competitive market, even receiving one award
and nominations for several others. But what happens to the
new author then? Ad budgets in small-press publishers are
modest or nil; the big publishers buy out the shelf space in the
brick and mortar book retailers; and to some book reviewers and
publishers, you're still not a "real" author until one of
the big publishers picks you up. In my case, we (my wife and I) invested a
great deal of time doing work to promote Burn in our off
That is the reality of today's print publishing business.
In the e-book realm, I encountered greater flexibility
and generosity in contract terms, but how many people have
e-book readers? And when they're shopping for them, how many
will be happy with the news that some producers of e-book readers
will attempt to control the supply of books, as well; or make
it impossible for the consumer to load their own content
onto their e-book reader?
I tested out a Cassiopeia and a Rocket eBook for e-book
reading and truly enjoyed both, but as not that many people have
e-book reader devices yet, the market continues to reach a
smaller potential audience. I look forward to wider acceptance of e-books, though, and certainly want to make sure my
future novels are available in print and e-book editions.
Thanks! I am presently finishing a creative nonfiction
novel based on my experiences as an American expatriate in a
post-9/11 world in India as the country nearly went to war with
neighboring Pakistan -- twice. There was a militant suicide attack on
the Indian Parliament; another on the American Centre in
Calcutta/Kolkata; and the entire state of Gujarat erupted into
massive Hindu vs. Muslim violence in which thousands died. And I
am a good distance into the follow-up to Burn - the next Cage/Jonny Cache
-- Jonathan Lyons
Burn, a science fiction noir published by Domhan Books
Visit the official web site of Burn at http://www.the-foundry.net/burn.
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