Surviving Social Media Series Part 2: Stereotypes and Fact-Checking

Welcome to Part 2 of my Surviving Social Media Series. You can read Part 1 here.

Also, before I dive into Part 2, I wanted to announce that I was interviewed by Libby Heily last week, and it’s up on her blog, so please check it out! It will give you a little insight into my book and about working with Fantasy Works Publishing. Please pop on by!

And now, without further ado…


Did you know that people think they know a lot about you from your favorite social media account? There are actually plenty of people out there who firmly believe they know you based just on that. I must give them a hell of a time predicting with my collection of social media.

If you use Facebook, you’re a sheep, one of the crowd. I mean, come on. Great-Grandmothers use Facebook.

If you use Twitter, you’re a rabid fan, looking for contact with celebrities. You probably only got on there to talk to your favorite actor and you probably have never received a reply to any of the thousand tweets you’ve tweeted @him.

If you use Instagram, you are either self-involved and proving it with a countless number of selfies, or you are lying about your life and are proving it with well-lit photos of your surroundings looking perfect. Just out of frame of your perfect healthy meal is the tremendous bag of Oreos.

If you are on Pinterest you are a stay at home Mom or a perfectionist. After all, who else makes pretty DIY crafts like that?

If you are on Tumblr, you are probably a social justice warrior! And a hipster! You silly person, you. You couldn’t possibly have a decent opinion on real things, you delusional equality-believing artsy dummy! (written as an avid Tumblr poster since 2010).

So, how do you feel about that? Does any of that fit you?

Probably not. And there’s a reason for that.

Stereotypes of anything are bullshit.

The truth is that many different people post many different things on social media. The things we complain about are everywhere. But for every annoying post we run into, there is the ability to get news spread faster, the self-esteem boosting posts, people sharing love for their friends, the ability to find homes for animals, and just an increased awareness due to the spread of social media.

So we have an increased awareness of important news topics. And we also have an increased awareness of every. Single. Thing. That one poster ate in a given day. It comes with the territory and we’ll discuss that part further in a later edition of this series.

But for now, let’s talk about that glorious spread of information. When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad, it is HORRID.

6beThough this meme is obviously a joke, it is a satire about the way people post incorrect memes all the time. Nobody in social media fact-checks. When some new bit of dubious information arises, it spreads like a damn plague before anybody realizes it could potentially be false.

This is one of the major problems about the spread of information in the age of social media. We repost, we share, we retweet and reblog and pin, and we often don’t know the truth of the news we are sharing. We often don’t know what agenda the initial disseminator of the information has. We don’t pay attention. As Captain Smek from Home said of the internet, “The Internet does not lie.”

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Sure, it doesn’t. The internet is a connected web of computers. It doesn’t lie. But the people who are putting information out to be shared through the web of computers? They lie. They lie plenty.

So remember, folks, if it’s on a website that is solely about your ideological bend, whatever that may be, you might want to double check those facts. And if you think you know something about a person based on what kind of social media they use, you might not want to base your stock portfolio on that great predictive mind of yours.

I’m sure you’ve all run into people like the ones I mentioned above. Feel free to share your tales of woe in the comments. And stay tuned for next week, when we discuss a need for approval and social blackmail.

 

Author Spotlight: Ismael Manzano

It’s funny. I do these author spotlights every now and then, and while the writers involved are often my friends, I have never done something like this for a person I know better than I know myself, about a book I read in its nascent stages, a story I’d heard about for years in various possible incarnations before it became what it is today. But here I am. My author spotlight today is for my husband, Ismael Manzano, and his novel, Soulless.

Now, below you will find a whole lot of press release type information, and I want you to read it and enjoy it, because it’s good stuff. But before I even get to that, I want to tell you the truth about this book.

I love this book. And not just because it’s my husband’s book. The story is imaginative, and I connected with the characters immediately, particularly the main character, Charlotte. Learning about this world through her eyes has been an exhilarating experience.

But more importantly, I love the writing, the way he weaves words together and takes you on a ride with them. I speak a lot about writing on this blog, but I rarely point out this fact – I am only a writer because I was inspired by Ismael. He not only told me I could, but he challenged me, and he showed me what dedication to the craft looked like, and without him I’d probably still be auditioning for acting jobs with my own stories dancing in my head. I got very lucky. I got to marry my favorite author. And I’m so very pleased to help create some of the fanfare surrounding this book.

So, without further ado, here’s a little about Ismael, and a little about Soulless.


Available Today!

Soulless
by Ismael Manzano

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Synopsis:

The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need bodies to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible, if you are the type of soul they’re looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and gives her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of other people. To help them as Trisha had helped her father.

This mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers’ leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two: get her father’s soul back and find a way to prove her innocence before it’s too late.

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Excerpt:

I walked around the car so I could jump into the passenger’s seat, waited for the crowd to thin and calmly—barely holding onto my senses—asked for the knapsack. It weighed nothing, but when I opened it, I found a parchment resting peacefully and eagerly inside of it. The full moon was out, and the sky was cloudless and unobtrusive, so when the pale, silvery light touched the papyrus, it was not reflected but enhanced. Trisha started the engine, and put the convertible’s top up to block the moonlight, then adjusted her mirror. Her face glowed nearly as bright as the papyrus.

The windows were tinted so I felt safe removing the parchment completely from the bag. The second my hand touched it, I felt a rush of something inexplicable, like a jolt of pleasurable lightning traipsing through my nerves and extending outward to the world at large. At first, I thought Trisha had pulled out a taser gun and had shocked me, but nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to enjoy the strangeness of the sensation. Shivers passed through me randomly, tingles that lit my skin. Without knowing how, I knew those shivers were my body’s reaction to people passing alongside the car. It was as if I was connected to the air through which they moved. I heard the wind pushing through the desiccated leaves still clinging to their branches, and it sounded like water rushing around a brook. The smells of the city, even through the confinement of the car, assailed my nostrils as if someone had bottled it up and threw it—concentrated—into my lap.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon | Smashwords | Nook | Kobo

Author Bio:

Ismael_Head shotIsmael Manzano was born and raised in New York City, and has lived his entire life in the Bronx, first with his parents, and then with his lovely and talented wife, Justine, and now with their kinetic maelstrom of a child, Logan.

Ismael is an avid reader of fantasy books, and knew at an early age that he wanted to be a writer. He worked his entire life to hone his craft to achieve the goal of removing the prefix, ‘aspiring,’ from his title, and referring to himself as a writer.

He has written many reviews and social commentaries for the web magazine, G-pop.net. Recently, Ismael has found success publishing his short stories, Playing in Shadows, at This Dark Matter and Cold, published in July 2015, at Grey Matter. In 2015, Fantasy Works Publishing signed his Urban Fantasy series, Soul Broker.

Ismael loves watching historical documentaries and listening to audio lectures about Medieval England, Ancient Rome, and Egypt. He considers himself an amateur historian, and has never met a BBC historical drama he didn’t like. One of his favorite things to do is to watch shows like the Tudors and movies like Elizabeth, and try to pick out the discrepancies between fact and fiction. He also hopes to one day solve a Rubix Cube puzzle, but that dream, sadly, seems to be the greatest fantasy of them all.

Website: IsmaelManzano.com

Twitter: @IsmaelManzano76

Facebook: Ismael Manzano – Author

 

Author Spotlight: Ross Smeltzer

For my first Author Spotlight of 2016, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Ross Smeltzer, a talented Dark Fantasy writer, whose collection of novellas, The Mark of the Shadow Grove, will be the first release from Fantasy Works Publishing, available January 15th. Pre-order now at the links listed below.

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Synopsis: Daughters of the gathering dusk and students of blackest spellcraft, the women of the Schermerhorn clan are enigmas made flesh. Seers for time immemorial, they are keepers of primeval knowledge.

They are wise in the ways of the Old Religion.

And they are destroyers of men.

Do the women of the Schermerhorn clan drive the men they encounter to their destruction? Or are their actions governed by specters on the periphery of human consciousness?

The Schermerhorn women will soon learn what dwells in the oldest books and what lurks in the flickering shadows beyond the candlelight.

Excerpt:

I saw her close to the fire. I approached her. Instinct—animal’s blood—controlled my fatigued limbs and I felt no fear, though the flames blazed high and the hilltop was forlorn; the night was black as deep water . . . She turned and approached me. “There are no masters here. Only you and me,” she said.

 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Fantasy Works Publishing        |           Amazon           |           Smashwords

 

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Author Bio: Raised in Chatham, New York, a small town in the Berkshires that looks like the setting for a Washington Irving story, Ross grew up surrounded by overgrown woodlands and tumbled-down, derelict farmhouses. He grew up with an awareness that the past was omnipresent, a slyly pervasive power and a subtle influence on the present.

Ross now lives in Dallas, Texas with his patient and endlessly supportive wife, a hopelessly brainless terrier, and an alarmingly unhinged cat. Ross works as a social studies teacher but writes fiction whenever he gets a chance. Sadly, he seems capable only of crafting stories of the weirdest kind. His imagination—apparently corrupted in adolescence by Hawthorne, Bierce, Machen, Lovecraft, and assorted other misanthropes, weirdos, and purveyors of high strangeness—can only manufacture demented little yarns.

Ross’s fiction has appeared repeatedly in Bewildering Stories magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, and Enchanted Conversation, an online fairy tale magazine.

Find Ross here:

Website: http://fantasyworkspublishing.com/ross-smeltzer.html

Twitter: @RossTellsTales

2015 Year in Review, Dancing into 2016

Hi all!

So I know I’ve been kind of absent this month, and mostly that was just me being the usual speed-of-light blur that I’m known for. Post NaNoWriMo, I had a ton of work to make up for in daily life, so I ran through that and have just now come down from the big spin. But, now that Christmas is done (Happy Holidays!), my 33rd birthday is here (Happy Birthday to me!) and 2016 is on the horizon (Happy New Year!), I always like to take a minute and look at how much things have changed in a year.

Highlights of 2015

  • IMG_2318I signed a contract for my series! So, things may be a bit delayed from my original August release, but that’s because I switched publishing companies in the middle of the process. It was a difficult but necessary decision to make, and while it set things back a little, The Order of the Key is still going strong and will be on bookshelves and hopefully chilling in your e-reader in 2016. So, stick with me. 2016 is going to be a banner year! I am also over halfway through writing Book 2, so things for the Keys and Guardians series are going well and moving right along.
  • Speaking of which, if we’re going with firsts, this is the first time I’ve ever edited a manuscript for a publisher, and it has been insane. Bang your head into the wall, pull your hair out of your head, angst-ridden crazy, but we’re about halfway through the muck, and the product has been incredible. I’m in love with what we’ve done so far, and damn…my editor is right when she’s right, you know?
  • lastcover1My husband, Ismael, signed his book series! Fans of the blog know just how invested I am in my husband’s work (we work as a team, are each other’s first editors, and brainstorm out most of our work together). Obviously, he is more excited than I am, but I am still over the moon! Soulless, Book 1 of the Soul Broker series, is in final edits and due out early in 2016. Life just got very different for both of us, as I’m sure you know.

 

  • Logan is kicking butt at First Grade and has decided he wants to be a writer too. We’re not expecting anything, but he’s pretty angry he can’t publish a book now, because Mommy and Daddy are, so why not? One day, kid. Or maybe not. You decide.
  • Once we both got picked up for series with Fantasy Works Publishing, I also took a job with them, and I’ve been having a grand time with my newfound duties. I’ve been working in acquisitions, as a content editor, and I’m about to strike out in a new branch – I will be running the soon-to-open audiobook branch of the company. So keep an eye open for that. You can get an idea of all of the wonderful things FWP has to offer at http://www.fantasyworkspublishing.com
  • Lastcover I mentioned my content editing above, and I’d like to introduce you to the book I’ve been editing. If you like horror and dark fantasy, you will love following the twists and turns of Gage Greenwood’s first novel, In the Eyes, In the Shadows. We’ve been having a great time working on his novel, he is extremely talented, and a breeze to work with. I know you all will fall in love with his book just like I did, so follow him for news on its release. You’ll be seeing it in 2016 as well.

What’s New in 2016

  • Aside from all the release dates and pending projects? Well, I’m still writing Book 2 of the Keys and Guardians series, The Lost Key, and I’m also going to try to shop out my last remaining short story, One Headlight. It’s been a busy year, and I let that one fall by the wayside. Either way, with book signings and marketing on the horizon, I have a good feeling that 2016 will have a crazier and much longer list of highlights than this year.

Alright guys, that’s what’s up with me! How is everything with you? Post below so I can get a look at what everyone has been up to and what is to come!

Thankful

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I know I’m a bit late, but I hope all of my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I figured I’d write a little something about the things I’m thankful for this year. It’s been such a strange year. Sad in some places, but incredibly happy in others.

We lost my Grandmother this year, in April. But I’m thankful because I spent 32 years of my life with her in it. She was an incredibly strong woman, and she was very funny, and she is the matriarch of the Minners (my maiden name) family. She had three sons, two daughters, and a collection of zany grandchildren, great grandchildren, and in-laws from all over that map that she was very, very proud of.

I am thankful for the way our family bands together in times of sadness and I am thankful for a re-established relationship with some of my cousins, who I’d spoken to on Facebook, but I hadn’t spoken to in real life in years. I’m thankful for the way two cousins who live across the country from each other can discover all kinds of similarities and form a unique and close bond. I am thankful for positive family connections of all kinds.

I am thankful for new traditions and extra time spent with my parents and my in-laws. I’ve loved getting to know each of you better and better.

I am thankful for blood siblings, siblings through marriage, adopted siblings, all of whom are my best friends. I couldn’t get by without them. Melissa, Jon, Megan, Dorothy, Kristy, Julian, Joy, Allegra, Fruhmann, Frank, Jennine, Anthony, and Marissa.

I am thankful for nieces and nephews, both real and adopted – Genaro, Kaitlyn, and Angelica – every accomplishment is a joy to watch, even when it must sometimes be from afar.

I am thankful for the ability to move away from toxicity in my life, and for the opportunity to find myself and pull myself free from many of the doubts and fears holding me back in life.

I am thankful for the career success that Ismael, Megan, and I have all enjoyed in 2015.

I am thankful for the Fantasy Works Publishing team, who are working so hard to give birth to my first novel, Ismael’s first novel, and a host of others. I am so grateful to be a part of this team and to count them as my friends. I am thankful for the FWP writers as well. I can’t wait to help them all share their stories with the world.

To my day job and all of my bosses and friends there, who make my day-to-day bearable.

I’m thankful for an amazing set of really great friends. I have been very lucky.

I am thankful for good food, a roof over my head, for good jobs, for a good life.

And, most of all, obviously, I am thankful for my guys, Ismael and Logan, who deal with my general insanity on a regular basis and love me despite it. They keep me in check and remind me regularly why I do all of this, and what kind of person I want to be. Seriously, the best husband and child I could ever ask for – perfect for me in every way.

And I am thankful daily for all of you. Everyone who reads my blog, all of the writing contacts I have made, and for the great online friends I have made in this way. Thank you all for being incredible.

I hope you had a wonderful day, and I hope you have a great holiday season.

Love to you all,
Justine

 

I HAVE A BOOK COVER, EVERYBODY!

You guys, I am SO excited. I have just received the final version of my book cover! Created by Tiffany Heiser, Graphic Artist at Fantasy Works Publishing, here, without further ado, is the cover of The Order of the Key.

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Please check out Tiffany’s website and facebook page for more about her art. For a reminder about what The Order of the Key is about, see the blurb below:

Jacklyn Madison has a thing for heroes. She reads about them, watches them on TV, and would very much like to become one. When a mysterious beast makes an attempt on her life, she discovers she is a hero—the long lost member of The Order of the Key, a group of humans with unique gifts that protect humanity from creatures that come through inter-dimensional rifts.

It’s all fun and games until training reveals the Order’s out-of-touch views—Keys like Jacklyn are protected, while Guardians like the rest of her family are considered expendable. As she rails against their value system, she finds herself in the center of a power struggle between the group’s leader, Lavinia, and her idealistic son, Kyp. Believing Lavinia to be engaged in hidden criminal activity, Kyp spearheads a secret effort to overthrow the leadership of the Order, and Jacklyn quickly signs on.

As Kyp’s efforts to protect his team from his unpredictable mother entangle them in a mire of danger and deceit, Jacklyn must find a way to keep the people she loves safe—from those the Order was chosen to fight, and those operating within.

So that’s my big announcement! Stay tuned for more info, soon!

Submissions – An Insiders (and Outsiders) View

It’s official. I’ve converted to the Dark Side. Once upon a time, I was just a lowly author.

A short time after signing my book deal with Fantasy Works Publishing, I was given a job there as well. After several back and forth conversations with owner, Jen Leigh, in which she would hand me a potential acquisition and ask me to evaluate it to see whether or not our interests lined up, I suddenly found myself working with her in acquisitions. Instead of the rejected, I have become the REJECTOR. And I feel the need to talk about it a bit, because it’s a huge difference, looking at it from the inside. And possibly because I need a little talk therapy.

Here’s what I’ve learned from working in acquisitions through two pitch sessions.

  1. It is a SLOG. I used to be very annoyed at how long it took agents and publishers to turn manuscripts around when you sent them in, but I was wrong. Reading through that many submissions can be a lot of work, especially when you consider the fact that we have other duties in acquisitions, like sending out contracts or rejections (more on both, later). And that isn’t even factoring in the fact that in small publishing you can wear many hats. Also, for me, specifically, I have a day job, a writing career, and a family. We try to keep your manuscripts for less than a month before we say something, and that’s mostly due to Jen, who reads so much faster than me. But in small publishing, all it takes is one minor business hiccup to mean we can’t read acquisitions for the rest of the day until we get it straightened out. Because putting out fires with the authors you have takes precedent.

  2. It is a JOY. People are creative. REALLY creative. And a whole lot of fun. Even if something doesn’t fit our particular vision for our company, we usually fall in love with something about every manuscript we read.

  3. It can be disappointing. There are few things that hurt worse than discovering a manuscript that you fall in love with, and having that author decide not to sign with your company. You invest a lot of time when you read a manuscript from cover to cover, and a lot of emotion as well. And when you fall in love, you fall hard. So it’s sad. But it’s also important that you are both on the same page, business-wise. So just like you have to make the best choice for your manuscript, we have to make the best choice for our company. The only thing I would suggest is that you only submit to a small publishing company if you would be interested in publishing with them. If you are relatively sure you are looking for an agent, it wastes everybody’s time for you to submit. It happens far more than you would think.

  4. We know, very quickly, if we want to sign you. Nobody wants to hear this, and nobody wants to say this, but it’s true. I often know by page 5 or 6 of whatever you send me, if I’m going to want to read further. If I fear a no, I’ll still read the entire packet you send, hoping you’ll prove me wrong, but I have yet to have that happen. Taste is subjective, and that doesn’t mean that the same will be true for the same writer any other place. By no means does this mean you have to be perfect, but when I pick up a manuscript, I have to be captivated by something (your writing style, a character, voice, plot) by the end of the first several pages, or you’ll be hard pressed to win me over.

  5. We hate rejections. If Jen tells me she has grabbed a pint of ice cream, I know it’s time to send out rejections. We hate every single email we send, because we don’t want to crush anybody’s dream. We’d much rather say yes, because…

  6. We love to make a dream come true. Jen has said this to me time and again, but it wasn’t until just recently, when I was given the chance to make a call on a manuscript by myself, that I understood the power of selecting a novel for publication. That book became my baby. I’d worked on books in their nascent stages before – mine, my husband’s, my good friend, Louis’ – and you become emotionally invested in them. Their success becomes just as important as your own. But never, had I read the work of a complete stranger (though, thankfully, not anymore) and had that same magic happen to me. And then it did.

And this is why I wanted to do this. This is why I added Acquisitions Editor to the many pieces of my puzzle. Because the writers we have chosen deserve to have a voice, deserve to have their day. And I’m enjoying every chance I get to make that happen.