Sunday, March 29, 2015

AT&T Calling

It's that time of year again. You know, when you're fed up with your phone/internet/cable company because your guaranteed low price suddenly doubled, or worse. Oh yeah, you realize, it was a contract. So you look online or open your mail to discover that new customers can get a low, low rate. But you don't qualify, because you're already a customer.

Your choices:
1) Throw a tantrum, if public, this may get you some sympathy
2) Go on social media to complain, only to be spammed by the company who want you to call them
3) Chat with a rep who will only be able to give you a few dollars off a month
4) Sit on the phone for an hour while you are transferred from one part of the company to another, getting more and more angry about the value of your time, though in the end you get a substantially lower rate

With approaches 3 & 4 you'll have to endure hearing repeatedly from them how important customer loyalty is and how much they appreciate your business. When you tell them that you struggle to see that appreciation given the inflated prices you are charged, you get the company line: the good rate you were initially given, the reduced rate you had last year (when you went through the same aggravation), was a gift but that gift has ended; after all, they couldn't give you that deal every year. Why not you wonder, but don't bother asking because this call has already taken too much of your time and you wonder whether any meager savings is really worth your time and frustration anyway.

And why do I do this every year? I ask myself that repeatedly. My savings is typically $100-240 for the year, not exactly an enormous sum in the current economy, nor much of a savings overall. I rarely get the equivalent of what new customers get. Though sometimes, when I get the right level of employee, they have the power to make that happen when I threaten to take my business to the competition.

I may be overstepping here, but all of this rings of dystopia to me. I know, I know, I'm prone to this perspective. But I've been dialoguing with a university literature class recently about dystopias and one of the concepts we can't quite agree on is how our current cultural milieu plays out in dystopian writing. So I've been thinking a great deal about those qualities. And here's a place that I experience them annually.

The business world has not always been this way. Once, there was a concept that the customer was always right. It's not that it was true, but the adage implied that businesses needed customers so they would compromise to keep us coming back. That hasn't been the case for a long time. But the abuse we now suffer at the hands of those who hold our connectivity, a highly prized commodity, hostage has come to be seen as inevitable, when it wasn't always. That's the first seed of this dystopian story.

The second comes in the double-speak. Much like Orwell's 1984, the rhetoric spoken and the rhetoric lived are utterly incompatible. "Savings is loyalty" is not that far off from Orwell's "Freedom is Slavery." Or maybe "Ignorance is Strength" is really closer. After all, my ignorance is their strength, they hold the power of the purse. Theirs grows larger and larger while mine shrinks, every time.

Seed number three comes in the form of smoke and mirrors though I know that sounds more like a magic act than a dystopia. The way it works with AT&T (substitute company who frustrates you here) is that there are so many plans from the internet to direct mail offers, which overlap and conflict, that it's impossible to figure out what the best deal really is.

Seed number four, is that dystopias always involve a powerful entity, often the government. Rewrite Big Brother as today's big corporation and my scenario offers a perfect plot device. The fact that today there's little distinction between government and business, given lobbyists and campaign contribution laws that make corporations into people, just makes it all the more realistic. Realism and/or dystopia? I'm fine with both/and because dystopias always take reality into a future place where particularities become extreme. Here, that would be corporate greed running amok.

Yesterday on the phone the AT&T rep kept telling me she could give me a $51 dollar rate plus the $7 modem fee which would save me $15. I told her I had gotten a $55 rate the day before and that included my modem. "Can't you see that figure on my account?" I asked. She merely stated that I could only have one offer at a time. I said, ok, but your offer is actually more expensive. You're not saving me $15, this deal would cost me $3. She couldn't seem to do the math. She just kept saying, you're paying $66 plus the modem now so that's a $15 savings. I was in crazy land. It was a fun house and the smoke was obscuring all reality, the mirrors were curved and I was suddenly very short.

I had to make a choice, hang up and admit how much time and energy I had wasted or ask for her supervisor. Of course, the first choice also involved trusting that my previous deal had in fact been logged but somehow wasn't current in her view. Could I take that chance? Did I want to talk to a supervisor.

Not unlike the many offers unavailable to me, I was in a situation where I wanted to believe I had a choice. That's what it means to be American, to have choice. But in both cases, choice was merely an illusion. AT&T wouldn't let me choose among their offers because I was ineligible due to my status as a customer, meaning someone capable of being abused. And to think that either hanging up or staying on the line would give me a better deal was equally illusive; neither would give me what I wanted, a better rate, so there really wasn't a choice.

What did I do? It doesn't actually matter. What matters is the discovery that choice has become a dystopian illusion! Getting internet from AT&T costs me $58 a month. Knowing there's no choice to make is priceless.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bouncing Toward Writing: A Beginning

Getting started with writing can be elusive. We believe we want to write. We have ideas for stories. We find a phrase turning over and over in our minds. But somehow, we don’t start. Or we do, and it seems to go nowhere. 

This is where the professionals have us. They have habit. They write regularly. Often every day. That habit not only strings words together, but it makes it easy to sit down and capture ideas. For the pros, their expectations are lower than for the rest of us mortals. They don’t expect the perfect draft immediately. They know that the writing will twist and turn away from the anticipated destination. They are confident that some of today’s writing will be thrown away. 

They are confident.

That’s the big thing. They know that by returning to their craft day after day they will amass, revise, refine, and ultimately, after much work, have a text they are willing to share with readers—be they friends or editors or the paying public.

The rest of us have dreams, ephemeral dreams that we worry will disappear in the light of day. And so they do. Because we don’t have habit and we lack confidence and so we let our worst nightmares take over and we don’t sit down and string words together. The feeling of failure grows within and we say, feeling like frauds: “I’d like to write.” “I can’t find time to write.” “Someday I’ll write the great American novel.”

To do that, we must start. One word in front of another, steps across the page. In the best of circumstances, when the phrase gets caught in my head I sit down not just to write those seven words, but to follow where they lead for 20 minutes or so. Most of the time, I don’t even have that much inspiration so I trick myself into beginning. I read a favorite passage from a writer I admire. I google a bit of research on an idea I heard on the radio. I write an email to someone about something I want to write. Each of these tricks moves me toward beginning without calling it that, without putting the fear of failure front and center. 

I also say, “This won’t be part of the story, I’m just getting down some notes.” It’s a little lie, but an effective one. Without the fear, notes can turn into something if I stay with them awhile. 

I’m also not averse to opening multiple documents for multiple beginnings. That act starts a revision process. It signals I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for an opening, one that will take me through the door, the door to the other side of consciousness where I let my intuition create and I stop trying to be in control. On that side is a bouncy house like they have for kids’ parties. 
I jump around in pure joy. I sometimes crack my head on someone else’s knee, but only slightly injured I bounce up again and try another tack for where my character might go next. 

Even without the professional habit of writing every day (how we all long for that!), I can establish habits that let me go through the door, habits that let me start bouncing, start writing, without a consuming fear that incapacitates me. 

Or I can wait for tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. And while the petty pace of life beats on, I will not be the writer I dream of, only the nightmarish ghoul I fear. 

When an idea strikes, write it and more. When you find that 15 or 20 minutes and you wonder what to do. Write—or do the acts that lead there—read and research. Lie to yourself that this isn’t writing as you sit at the keyboard and begin: you’re not writing your masterpiece, you’re just writing…one word…after…another.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Breaking the Rules

Readers are always assuming I'm a germaphobe. Because my first novel, Isolation, revolves around the dangers of bacterial infection and the possibility that simply touching your own face can cause death, it seems like a no brainer. But it's not the case. I laugh and try not to divulge that my hand-washing habits have not increased one iota as a result of my research and writing. I'm not the person squirting hand-sanitizer every time I shake someone's hand. My intellect rationalizes that I want a healthy immune system which means building up resistance over time and killing all of the germs I come in contact with would counteract the build-up of such stealth forces. While true, I think it's much more the case that habits learned early are habits for life. It's not that my household growing up wasn't clean, nor that my mother didn't teach me good hygiene, she did. It's probably that I was a bit lazy. Or perhaps, though I think of myself as "the good girl," it may be that I was a rule-breaker from the start.

I'm writing today because I found myself pulling a "Trevor." He's the antagonist in my novel. He can't stand rule-breakers. There's a moment in Isolation when he is sitting aboard an airplane. A passenger next to him continues to text beyond the announcements to cease and desist. He tries to get the perpetrator to stop, but when she won't, he rings his call button. Just now, the guy next to me was talking on his cell, even as the flight attendants demonstrated, yet again, the way to attach a seat belt. I'd heard my seat-mate tell the person on the other end that he wouldn't hang up until forced. When the flight attendant walked by, I pointed at the cell phone. The attendant tapped his shoulder, waited for him to end the call, then continued to ensure seat backs and tray tables were in their full upright and locked positions. I thought, "OMG, I've become Trevor!" 

Trevor is not a character I associate with. It's not so much that he's a rule-follower (evidently I share some of that sensibility), it's more that he's an unquestioning one. Most dystopian characters are, unquestioning that is. But some rise beyond the simple routines of daily life and demonstrate that being a lemming can get you perks if you do it very, very well. That's Trevor. He's Winston in 1984, at the beginning, before Winston buys the journal and begins his covert note-taking. Trevor would never covertly record his world, nor do anything else outside the purview of authority. Trevor's ability to follow the rules, to follow the government, to report all infractions, is finely honed. He is hired by Homeland Security for his prowess. He is promoted for his vigilance and adaptability. Rules change more and more frequently as bacterial contagion grows out of control in Isolation and Trevor keeps up, even if the populace at large can't possibly. Trevor enforces rules; he prides himself on being a good citizen. 

And since citizenry comes from the following of a government, he is in fact, a very good citizen. But a good person? Doubtful many would say so. Even when his high school principal agrees to provide a recommendation, which he does with some trepidation, realizing, educated man that he is, that Trevor will be so good at the job of enforcing rules that others don't stand a chance, even as the principal imagines Trevor is a danger, he doesn't allow that to prevent the recommendation, even the principal doesn't question authority. The principal demonstrates perfectly that even those in high positions demonstrate that for a dystopia to work, lemming-like behavior is required. 

The question is: does following rules make you good or bad? 

Or is it that simple? Clearly, it's not. At least not in the mind of this dystopian. Following rules is what we've taught our children. It's the legacy of an industrial society whose assembly lines and educational systems matured together. Now a service economy, rule-following is still a primary value for our masses. But it doesn't build a strong democracy, one that thinks deeply, let alone questions or makes individuated decisions. It's not that I want anarchy, don't leap to the opposite end of the spectrum. It's more that I value a thinking populace. I'm not sure our purpose if we're not thinking. Without thought, we're resource users like any animal. The unquestioned life is common enough, but is that what we seek? Is it our best hope? Does it make of the world a better place?

I think not. I spend my working life encouraging college students to learn to think for themselves, to be critical thinkers as we call it today. That means I teach them to question. Or I try. It's not easy when they've spent 20 years or more following rules. It's not surprising they don't question. Not only education, but their parents have taught them not to. After those early years of asking "why, why why" and being told to go play or worse, being physically or metaphorically slapped down for exhibiting curiosity, most American children stop wondering, stop asking. 

Again, don't go to extremes. Not everything needs to be questioned, not even all authority. After all, some things just need doing. In the midst of a fire there's rarely a reason to stop and ask if it should be put out. (Though ask a resource management specialist about the need for fire in the life cycle of forests, and you'll see that even there, we might have wanted to question occasionally.) But when I'm told that genetically modified organisms (GMO's) are safe, I might want to question the details about what those modifications are, whether they prolong shelf-life or whether they insert toxins into my corn. When I'm told that using 99% bacterial killing hand-sanitizers will keep me safe, I might want to question whether or not regular soap and hot water will do an adequate job most of the time and specifically when it won't. When I'm told to trust the government that it's not colluding with Monsanto in the patenting of life so that seeds are no longer reusable by farmers, I might question what it means to patent life, or why farmers can't reuse seeds, or who profits--always a good question. (Follow the money.)

These are only some of the questions I ask with some frequency and questions tucked into the folds of Isolation. They are premises from our current lives that I question, but mostly the  characters in the novel don't. These are far from the only questions available to thinking people. I'm drawn to questions of food and health. Others may be drawn to questions of growing financial inequalities, or questions of globalization, or questions of climate change. There are smaller questions of course, and they too are valuable: Should I be afraid of swimming alone without a lifeguard present? Will video games or cell phones cause increased arthritis in hands in the future? Is WiFi dangerous at a subatomic level?

It matters not to me what we question. It matters that we question. And that we research and talk and write and explore. It matters that we see ourselves as agents of change, that we not only believe we make a difference, but that we do. Questions leads to action. Not inevitably perhaps, but often. It's hard to know things could be better, more truthful, more interesting and not work to make that happen. 

I don't want the plane to crash because cell phone signals
interfere with navigation, so I will point to the guy with the phone. But I'll also wonder if there's any scientific cause for concern or if it's just habit I'm accustomed to? Can it interfere? What would happen? Others asked such questions because we can now leave our small devices powered up during take-off, but we couldn't for years.
Somebody asked the question, did the research, reported out, and got procedures changed. And I'm happier because of it. I like being able to read on my iPad during take-off rather than having to carry a physical book along with my iPad. Speaking of which, time for landing. Not that I'm going to power down. Thankfully, for now, that question has been answered! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

It’s All a Blur

He couldn’t get close enough to wolves in the wild to film their social activity, so with a deadline looming, he rented domesticated wolves.” This promo on NPR about the making of animal documentaries caught my attention. I’d heard exposes about Animal Planet earlier in the summer—depicting film crews who bated animals before filming. The stories don’t surprise me. And yet, today as I listened to the phrase “he rented domesticated wolves,” I thought, in this new century, is there a line between fiction and reality, and if so, what is it?

This all sounds a bit like Jayson Blair who was caught both plagiarizing and fabricating stories for the New York Times back in 2003 before he resigned. He wasn’t the first journalist to perpetrate such lies on the news reading public, but he was a spectacular example that fiction can easily masquerade as fact.

Another story on NPR earlier in the week about the latest war tourism somehow worried me more. They recounted the story of former Army Pvt. Eric Harroun, one American among many, who have gone on their own to fight in Syria. Harroun documented his pursuit of the enemy on camera and posted it on Facebook and YouTube with his narration. It sounded like a bad movie or a video game. A listener could hear him lock and load his weapon, no doubt an automatic one. It was eerie and strange. Was it real or memorex? 

What happened? It’s a chaotic scene in Syria with a variety of forces fighting one another. He was arrested for treason when he returned to the US and spent 6 months in solitary. Eventually the charge was changed to providing weapons to the enemy and released for time served.

I lived in Michigan during the early days of the Michigan Militia, which according to their website held an event this weekend, so I’m not unfamiliar with the idea that Americans would take up arms to protect themselves at home and abroad. As much as that may trouble me, what caught my attention this time was the making of the documentaries. While life and death were clearly at stake, the imitation of a fictive storyline with all of the elements, save an underscore of music, made this somehow more about self and fun than about duty or country.

Why does this blurring of fact and fiction matter to me? I write fiction. I’m a scholar. The two meld. In writing Isolation I did a great deal of research. My goal: make my fiction seem real. I don’t think that’s new. Even when writers aren’t academics or researchers, they’re readers and observers. I think writers of fiction have always wanted to tell a true story. Not true in the sense of it happened, but true to life. Believable. 

And in promoting my novel I try again to connect my fiction to current news. A recent tweet: 

“They stopped and put on masks before touching him again.” It wasn’t Ebola, but it could have been. 

If the quotation marks seem odd, it’s because the first sentence comes from my novel and appears within the larger context of the story of Tom├ís on a site called Bublish. The second sentence connects the quote to the news of the day. Was it successful? I’m too new at social marketing to be sure, but I will say it got more views than most of my tweets. Why? Again, I can’t possibly know, but I suspect that which leads to trending, popular culture’s interplay with news. 

If that particular mix of fact and fiction is comfortable for me, why do I find renting domestic wolves or war tourists who record their travails to be problematic? In a word, propaganda. So commonly associated with war that I immediately think of Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda—Goebbels.   The audiences of Nazi propaganda were multiple: the SS, Hitler Youth, the Allies. Triumph of Will is a gorgeous demonstration of fiction presented as fact, to speak nothing of the use of cinematography to capture an emotional response as well. 

From our current vantage point, the fictionalization of such a piece is amazingly evident, but in the midst of the war that was far from the viewers’ perspective. If we turn our attention to 1984 and the slogan “War is Peace,” we can see propaganda at work from the standpoint of fiction. Oceania, the society of Orwell’s novel, has been duped into believing many party slogans which appear so ludicrous on the surface as to be oxymoronic. 

And of course, no reader wants to be Winston. It is clear that even as free individuals, free readers, we would not choose the slavery of the characters in 1984. We watch as Winston, among others, creates the propaganda by re-writing history before our reading eyes. Ration numbers change, heroes become villains, no fact is safe from the Ministry of Truth. 

As a dystopian reader and writer, this is what I fear most: a government which hides the truth, whether in subtle ways or right out in the open. It’s not just animal documentaries that hide the truth about rented wolves in the fine print of the credits or war tourism which provides a lens onto the battlefield while masquerading as clear and just fighting, it’s also the labeling practices of the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association which are funding the anti-GMO-labeling initiatives cropping up in state after state. 

But it’s not just my inability to know what products contain what kinds of GMO’s that has me scared to eat food sold in US supermarkets, it’s also the FDA’s lack of standards when it comes to additives in general. That which is “Generally Recognized As Safe” or “GRAS” might be a fine standard if it weren’t for the corporate monetary incentive to rush to market rather than protect consumers. 

Of course, the conspiracy theorist in me would point to the number of former Monsanto execs who have ended up in government offices to show the collusion between Agri-Business, the FDA, and the EPA, but I’ll let you be the judge: check out the websites from Monsanto and one of many opponents.

For me there’s no question, the public lines between fact and fiction are blurred. In 2014 it’s hard to know what to believe. Maybe this doesn’t matter to you. Maybe it shouldn’t matter to me. I lived through 1984 in reality, but I don’t want to live through its fiction. After many years of thinking I should eat organic, I’m trying to actually do that—at least at home. I donate money to support GMO-labeling. War is not Peace; Freedom is not Slavery; this is not 1984.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Inspiration for Isolation

In my youth I was an idealist. Maybe that’s not that uncommon, but I lived out my idealism as an activist. When the United Farm Workers sought better conditions, I boycotted grapes. When I was in college, I wrote letters to Congress in church-related efforts to feed the hungry. When a friend ran away from an abusive home, I began volunteering at a women’s shelter. In the 80s, when the US and USSR were poised for anhiliation, I organized peace protests against nuclear weapons. Then I went to grad school and found I needed to focus my limited time. I didn’t stop caring, but I read little news, wrote few letters, rarely stood in protest. My values didn’t change, even though I wasn’t acting on them outwardly.

The germs of my novel Isolation came from the fear of a swine flu epidemic in the fall of 2009, changes in behavior that swept through the country, my concerns about the overuse of 99% bacterial killing soaps and sanitizers, and a line that came into my head: “laying a finger aside of his nose.”

The flu that year went pandemic, around the world, but not epidemic; it didn’t wipe out humanity. Though it killed tens of thousands world-wide, that’s a tiny, tiny fraction of the population. The fear, however, was palpable. The Centers for Disease Control in the US and the World Health Organization, among others, mounted campaigns to reduce the spread of the virus by teaching us to sleeve the sneeze and catch the cough. They produced posters about the importance of hand-washing which were bright yellow and still adorn the classroom walls on my campus.

Simultaneously, access to hand sanitizers became ubiquitous in many public places, like grocery stores. Though I’m not a scientist, I worried that we didn’t want to kill all of our bacteria because I knew that we needed it for digestion and to build a healthy immune system. Personally I wondered if we should use all of the 99% bacteria-killing soaps. But I was clearly in the minority.

One day while walking, I heard the line “laying a finger aside his nose” from the “Night Before Christmas” echoing in my head. I imagined a boy who found the children’s story in a box of old things from his mother’s childhood. Seeing Santa touch his nose, the boy recognized the book as contraband, since face-touching was not allowed in his world. He secreted the page under his mattress like the pornography it was until he could show it to a friend. Suddenly I was thinking about a world in which face-touching was prohibited; that reality didn’t seem far off.

Along the way I realized how much our food supply had already been contaminated by sudden and frequent outbreaks of E. Coli and other dangerous bacteria. I worried about the dangers of GMOs, though I knew little of the science. Given that I’d never lost sight of the farm workers I’d supported in my youth and given that I’d been a vegetarian more than once over the years due to concerns about Alar in apples, the way chicken is processed, or the dangers of raw spinach, it wasn’t a difficult leap to make Agri-Biz into the evil backdrop to the dystopia I imagined.

These ideas stayed with me for a couple of years. I read news about the various threads and occasionally wrote short vignettes that I shared with my writing group, but I didn’t imagine I was preparing for a novel until I had the opportunity for a sabbatical.

And even then, I was intent on not saying a novel was my goal. It was too frightening. As a writing center director I created a project which required me to write more than 100 pages of fiction. The intent was to recreate for myself the conditions college students face when they have to write a longer paper than they experience writing in a genre or discipline they have little experience in.

At that point, the stage was set for me to write Isolation. Though at the time, I kept emphasizing that I wasn’t writing a novel, just a long piece of fiction. Secretly I hoped for a novel, but I denied it to everyone outwardly. I didn’t want to fail.

Oh, and the activism of my youth, oddly, writing this dystopian novel has led me back to it—a bit. Promoting my book through social media has led me to follow several bacteria-related entities as well as anti-GMO and food safety advocates. They’re a good source of news as well as marketing opportunities—how life changes.

Originally posted as part of Isolation's Blog Tour on Always a Book Lover.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dystopia: The World Falling Apart*

Notice my title says the world, not a world. For me, dystopias work best when they are recognizably the world we live in now, altered to become the future that’s imaginable yet objectionable, frightening. It’s the world we don’t want to occupy.

There are always other options for our actual future and that is another reason for loving dystopias—they call us to look at the world we live in and to reconsider the ways we live, the values we hold, the choices and consequences of those choices.

I love dystopias and have read many of them, so it’s not surprising that my first novel, Isolation, is dystopic. In case dystopias aren’t your usual read, let me offer an example of how dystopias work. In Farenheit 451, a favorite since my childhood, the world of ideas has become so threatening to those in power that all books must be destroyed. The government spoon feeds the population its rhetoric as entertainment. People are dumbed down by the parlor walls (think big screen TV).

Written in 1953, televisions gaining in popularity, a cold medium luring the masses to sit around and watch in silence rather than discuss the world of ideas. After WWII, with the U.S. leaving Korea and moving into Vietnam, from the quietude of the suburban 50s toward the uprisings of the 60s, civil rights, women’s rights, a peace movement that wouldn’t be still. But let’s not talk about any of that.

In ’53 the horizon was filled with ominous changes which would be averted if every woman was the quintasential housewife watching soap operas and eating bonbons. Every man the worker who did his job without question, even if that job were to be a fireman, one who did not quell fires, but started them, by torching books. Both of these roles are fulfilled brilliantly in Farenheit 451 by Mildred and Guy Montag. She’s depressed; he begins to question the state of things, fearing he’ll be caught in possession of the book he irrationally saves from flames.

Dystopia, the world falling apart.

In 2009 as the swine flu threatened epidemics of Black Plague proportions, the CDC and World Health Organization spread fear, changing behaviors overnight, getting people to sleeve the sneeze, and use hand sanitizers frequently. It was then I began to imagine the world of Isolation, a world in which the government, there’s always a powerful government backdrop in dystopias, banned citizens from touching their own faces, for human safety, of course.

From that premise, characters emerge, fighting one bacterial infection or another. Agri-Biz plays its role in creating anti-bacterial resistance through large livestock operations. Big Pharma keeps its hand in by developing anti-bacterial products one after another after another, lining their pockets while fleecing Homelanders and building anti-biotic resistance.

The stories in Isolation are driven by an illusive safety which everyone seeks, but no one achieves. The world falls apart—in California, West Virginia, Alaska, Michigan, Hawaii. The world falls apart and readers watches in horror, realizing how close this fiction is to the current world they live in.

Fast Forward—May 2014: E. Coli causes product recalls for hummus in Idaho and ground beef nationwide, as well as the need to boil water in Portland. Anti-biotic resistance is growing at a pace which threatens a near post-antibiotic future where bacteria will return to being a major cause of death, as was true pre-WWII.

The thinking person, the one who pays attention, reads a dystopia like Isolation realizing that this could be the future. The world could fall apart in just this way.

I love a good dystopia.

*This post first appeared as a guest post initiating Isolation's blog tour at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Blog Tour: A Modern Day Book Signing

When I mention I've arranged a blog tour, most people ask what that is. I explain it's a social-media-based opportunity for indie-authors to go on tour the way traditionally published authors sometimes appear in local bookstores to give readings and sign books. However, this way, I don't leave the comfort of my own home, nor do those interested in my dystopian novel, Isolation

So what does happen in a blog tour? There are reviews of the novel, written interviews, guest blog posts by me on others' websites, and giveaways. Who doesn't love a chance at a free copy of a great read.  

Sometimes people coordinate this themselves. In my case, this is one of the many gifts of having run a Kickstarter. (Many thanks to those who sponsored me!) I used some of the money raised to hire someone to set up a set number of tour sites. However, I had no idea the variety of sites that would sign on for my novel, nor the wonderful diversity of ways in which they would promote it. Thanks to each and every blogger listed below! I'm very excited to go on tour.

Here's the list of days and types of activity if you want to follow the tour, or just sign up to win an eBook or print copy of Isolation:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus June 16 Excerpt & Giveaway
Library Educated June 17 Review
Creating Serenity June 18 Review
Room With Books June 18 Interview & Giveaway
Reviews From The Heart June 19 Review & Giveaway
Always a Book Lover June 25 Review & Guest Post
Lightning Chronicles June 27 Review
Deal Sharing Aunt July 2 Review
Deal Sharing Aunt July 3 Interview  & Giveaway
Books & Quilts July 9 Review
Mary’s Cup of Tea July 10 Review & Giveaway
TreeHouse July 12 Giveaway
Book Talk With Alana July 14 Review & Interview
Nerdophiles July 15 Review
Nerdophiles July 16 Interview & Giveaway
She Treads Softly July 17 Review
Kritters Ramblings July 18 Review
fuonlyknew July 21 Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway
Open Book Society July 23 Review & Giveaway
Cassandra M’s Place July 24 Review & Giveaway
Giveaways and Glitter July 25 Review
Two Children & a Migraine July 28 Review, Guest Post  & Giveaway
JeanzBookReadNReview July 30 Interview