NOTICE:

2/2020 - To fight back against spam comments, I am closing comments to all older posts. Current blog posts will still have comments open. I apologize for this inconvenience.

August 30, 2021

10 Things All Authors Should Know

 

10 THINGS ALL AUTHORS SHOULD KNOW


1. How to Contact Amazon to Price Change

There may come the day when you want to change the price of your eBook to 0.99 or to free but you're unable to do that on your KDP dashboard. So how do you do it? Do you go to your book's Amazon page? Many used to reply on the "Tell us about a lower price" link under a book's product details, although that was very insufficient and could take a long time to hear back, if you ever did. In fact, that option is no longer there.

So, how do authors change their eBooks' prices to 0.99 or free on Amazon?

You do it through KDP's Contact Us page: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/contact-us

To the left, beneath "How can we help?", click on "Pricing" and then "Price matching." You can contact them through email or phone. Phone may be faster, but I always did email because I hate talking on the phone. When you choose to send an email, make sure you have the ASIN for your eBook in the Kindle store and the competitor's URL links. Always specify what the price is listed as and what you want it to be instead.

TIP: If you are changing the price permanently or even for a specific amount of time, always check back to make sure Amazon hasn't reverted it back, because they like to do that and it is maddening.

You can also ask them to price match on all Amazon marketplaces (UK, DE, etc.)

August 23, 2021

THE CURE by Patricia Josephine / Zombie Quiz and Excerpt + Giveaway / LIMITED TIME 99 Cents Sale


The Cure is a clever, fun take on the usual zombie stories that are out there. I thoroughly enjoyed it in its early stages. I've told Patricia many times that Zee is my favorite character she's ever created, and many of her characters have stuck with me. No lie, at random times, moments from The Cure pop into my head, which is a rare thing. I recommend The Cure to zombie lovers, paranormal lovers, post-apocalyptical setting lovers, novella lovers...pretty much everyone.

BLURB:

Every human in the world becomes a zombie when they die. But Erin refuses to accept the world as it is now. She’s heard about a cure locked away in a lab in Up-per Michigan, and she plans on retrieving it. To do so, she needs a zombie. Not just any zombie, though.

Zee is Erin’s link to the lab. His connection to the living world is her bargaining chip. But only if she can teach him to control his mindless impulses.

Can a zombie be trained? Or will Erin be Zee’s next meal and become a zombie herself? The fate of humanity rests in her hands.


ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS TILL 9/25

Universal Buy Link - https://books2read.com/u/mBZpkp

Add to Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58343851-the-cure

August 16, 2021

Windover, A 7,000-Year-Old Pond Cemetery / Research



In a comment on my Florida & Seminole History blog post, M.J. Fifield brought up a fascinating discovery I hadn’t come across in my research…the Windover Archeological Site. She mentioned that the remains dated back to 6000 B.C. Immediately, I was intrigued.

So, I did research.

My main source of information was Life and Death at Windover: Excavations of a 7,000-year-old Pond Cemetery by Rachel K. Wentz.

I am actually acquainted with someone (through M.J.) who did CT scans on some of the remains. Her name is Rita. In fact, the cover of Life and Death at Windover uses one of Rita’s scans.

The Windover Pond has been called “one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the world.”


Interesting Facts:

  • This pond, located in present-day Titusville (in Central Florida), is a Middle Archaic (6000 to 5000 BC) underwater burial site.
  • The human remains and artifacts are 7,000 years old.
  • That’s 3,200 years older than King Tutankhamen.
  • And 2,000 years older than the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
  • Archaeologists found the remains of 168 individuals, from infants to about 60 years of age, as well as 119 artifacts.
  • The bodies were so well-preserved from the peat and neutral pH of the pond that there was brain matter present in 90 skulls.
  • These brains (I cannot write that or read that without thinking about zombies) were the “most ancient DNA yet analyzed at the molecular level.”

At one point, the author of Life and Death at Windover said that the pond the Indigenous peoples buried their dead “just happened to be neutral pH,” while the majority of the ponds around it were highly acidic. But what if it wasn’t a coincidence? Indigenous peoples work closely with the land, they pay attention to the earth, and they know medicinal uses for plants and other natural materials. They might’ve known, through living near that pond and examining/witnessing it, that is was magical, different, and that could by why they chose it to be the sacred site for their dead. In fact, evidence shows that they used that specific pond, none of the others in the area, for one thousand years. One website says they could’ve been drawn to the pond “by the glow of methane ‘swamp gas’ that is sometimes visible at night.” [1]

  • The brain matter allowed for DNA sequencing, and the "DNA indicated Asian origin, similar to that of the four other major haplotypes of Native American peoples." [2
  • However, DNA analysis indicated that the Indigenous peoples buried in the pond were not related to any living Native American population today, indicating that their descendants either all died off or were significantly reduced “prior to the evolution of the genetic markers” found in modern populations.


So, how was this underwater burial site discovered?

In 1982, Windover Pond was one of many ponds being cleared so the Windover Farms housing development could be put in their place.

Makes you really think about all the land and bodies of water that are cleared away for yet even more housing developments and mini malls, etc. and what could be there, or, rather, what developers and construction workers could be disturbing (even hiding from public knowledge), doesn’t it? I know it makes me stop and think about that, especially as I’m seeing more and more land in my area getting bulldozed for communities and complexes.

But that’s another topic.

Let’s get back to what’s considered “one of the most important archeological sites ever excavated,” which, even with my statement above and at the end of this post, is exciting and extremely fascinating (hence why I wanted to share all this with you).


Discovery:

  • The land had belonged to the Tisch family who wanted to sell all sixty-five hundred acres so they could buy a large insurance company. That insurance company fell through. No worries, though, because they used their money to buy CBS instead. 
  • EKS, inc., run by Jim Swann, bought their land for the Windover Farms housing development.
  • Steve Vanderjagt discovered the first skull and following bones, which included a second skull, while making passes with his backhoe through the muck surrounding the pond.
  • Interestingly, right after those few bones were discovered and removed and the crew, as well as Jim Swann, were trying to figure out what to do next, the skies became dark. A storm blew in.

Now, some would say (as the author of Life and Death at Windover did) that it was just shadows from the storm and wind-blown palm fronds, but a young crew member named Lester Canada swore he saw “three Indians running across the road.”

Panic and superstition, or spirits of the remains from that pond? 

Well, I wouldn’t discount what Lester saw. At that time, none of them had any reason to believe they’d just found the bones of Native Americans, let alone prehistoric Indigenous peoples. At that point, without knowing about the restorative powers of the peat, those bones could’ve belonged to anyone, even someone buried there 5+ years prior. (I read that an un-embalmed adult in ordinary soil could take 8-12 years to decompose to skeleton. But, of course, many factors, including temperature, humidity, and insects, could speed this up. And when submerged in water, about five years.) With all that in mind, Lester had no reason to believe they were Indian bones in order to work himself up. If it was me, I would’ve thought they were two murder victims. So I wouldn’t discount what he saw, before the discovery even had a chance to begin, before anthropologists had a chance to examine the bones and artifacts.

  • The storm brought forth more bones.
  • The local coroner took the bones. The next day, the coroner said the bones were not from modern-day Floridians.
  • Jim Swann wanted the bones back. They were returned and held in five-gallon holding cells for a few months.
  • Finally, they contacted the University of Florida, but Dr. Brenda Sigler-Eisenberg, an archaeologist, and Dr. William Maples, a renowned forensic anthropologist in Florida, both passed after seeing Windover Pond. Why? Because in order to excavate, they’d have to drain the pond of water, a time-consuming and expensive process. They also didn’t know how old the bones were or if there were more to be found. The state of the bones was also a factor. Remember, they had no idea about the peat strong enough to preserve bones for thousands of years.
  • Jim Swann then contacted Florida State University and Glen Doran.
  • The first test that was done was radiocarbon dating that reported the age of three tested samples (the other two done to be sure the first result was correct and not contaminated by the ancient peat) as being 7,000 years old.
  • After rejections for funding to excavate from FSU and Governor Graham vetoing a bill, they finally were able to move forward when the revised bill passed in the summer of 1983.


Excavation:

  • The excavation process lasted from 1984-1886. 
  • The center of the pond turned out to be over twenty feet deep, in comparison to the many shallows pounds throughout the construction of Windover Way.
  • The deepest layer of peat in the pond was found to be over 10,000 years old.
  • Seeds and plant remains in the peat, and the wooden stakes used to secure the bundled bodies to the bottom of the pond, indicated that the Indigenous peoples used the pond during late summer and early autumn. They may have lived somewhere else during the other months or the pond might’ve been too murky for interments during the winter. (Where they buried their dead during the winter is unknown, although I found speculation that they may have moved to the Indian River Lagoon. [3]
  • During excavation, the skulls with brains were brought to Wuesthoff Hospital in Rockledge where they were stored in freezers within the Pathology Department. The hospital’s radiologists performed x-rays and scans. (Enter Rita.)
  • Afterward, the skulls were sent to Gainesville for DNA extraction.
  • The remains were also found to have been wrapped in textile cloth.
  • The bodies, in a flexed position, were wrapped in material made from cabbage palm or saw palmetto fibers, and then the bundles were pushed to the bottom of the pound and secured there by wooden stakes. This kept them safe from predators. Only six human bones, out of 10,000+, showed evidence from carnivore damage (gnaw marks).
  • The bones revealed that these people suffered from arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and a young man even had spina bifida. 
  • The Windover people were intelligent. Not only were most of their broken bones healed but they were in proper alignment, meaning they understood the importance of immobilizing limbs with splints.
  • They also had consumed berries (found in their bellies) for their analgesic and anti-rheumatic properties (like Elderberries and nightshade) or for pain relief (like grape seeds). This is, as the author of Life and Death at Windover says, “one of the most ancient examples of medicine in human history.”


Additional Facts:

  • Windover Pond became a spectacle during the excavation. The media wanted constant updates and so many visitors came unannounced that the team ended up designating Friday’s for school group visits and Saturdays for the public. They created a walk with volunteer guides at posts to recite information, almost like a museum or zoo.
  • An adjacent hammock had artifacts like pottery. How pottery was made throughout history has changed, from five thousand to three thousand to one thousand years ago. The pottery that was found had St. Johns check-stamps, indicating that they were one thousand years old, so the people who lived in the hammock came six thousand years after the people who had been buried in the pond. 
  • Only half of the pond was excavated. The other half was left for future examination.
  • In 1987, the Windover Archaeological Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science in Cocoa has the only comprehensive exhibit for Windover.
  • December 2013, Windover Pond was purchased by the Archaeological Conservancy, “the only national, nonprofit organization that identifies, acquires, and preserves the most significant archaeological sites in the United States.” [4]


Final Thoughts:

Now, there are federal laws protecting and prohibiting the excavation of Native American remains and gravesites.

Under Chapter 872.05 of Florida Statutes, “It is the intent of the Legislature that all human burials and human skeletal remains be accorded equal treatment and respect based upon common human dignity[...]”

It is a third-degree felony if someone “willfully and knowingly disturbs, destroys, removes, vandalizes, or damages an unmarked human burial” and a misdemeanor of the second degree if someone has knowledge of this taking place and doesn’t report it.

While this means that archaeological digs like this may no longer take place in the United States/Florida, limiting discoveries, I personally believe these laws are right and abiding by them is the respectful thing to do so that the remains of Indigenous ancestors and prehistoric peoples stay in their final resting places (where they were buried by loved ones in ceremony) and the sites left in peace. 


Resources:

Life and Death at Windover: Excavations of a 7,000-Year-Old Pond Cemetery, Rachel K. Wentz, 2012

Windover: Multidisciplinary Investigations of an Early Archaic Florida Cemetery, Glen H. Doran, 2002

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windover_Archeological_Site

http://www.nbbd.com/godo/history/windover/



August 04, 2021

My Farewell + Don't Shame Readers for What They Read (or Writers for What They Write)

 


MY FAREWELL TO THE BOOK CLUB:


(Sent to book club members on 7/26/2021)

Readers and Writers,

Chrys Fey here. The IWSG administrators contacted me recently to inform me about a new direction they’ve decided to take the book club. They also decided to replace me. Toi will be taking over as the new book club lead. Although, she’s not really new. She’s been with us since 2017 as a book club moderator!

I don’t have many details about the new direction, but from what I understand, the book club will be spotlighting IWSG members’ books from now on. Toi will share more about the new direction soon.

Fortunately, our upcoming discussion day on August 25th for They Called Us Enemy and Writing Magic will still be taking place. Toi will be posting for that discussion day. Please join us!

I’d like to take a moment to reflect and express my gratitude.

I created this book club in 2017 for writers to read/learn about the writing craft. I am sad to have to say goodbye after all these years. Many of you have personally messaged me to say how much the book club has helped you and what it has meant to you. Your words have meant a great deal to me. I also know many of you have read the books over the years but chose not to participate in the discussions (which were always optional), preferring to stay on the sidelines, instead. I saw you, and I thank you for being a member on your terms. 

The book club’s upcoming changes will be different, but I know Toi and the moderators, Ronel and Juneta, will do great. I am incredibly grateful to them for being such a wonderful team. I didn’t make changes without their input and asked for all their ideas. Their enthusiasm for the book club boosted me, and their assistance helped me to maintain my stamina in running this book club.

Thank you for everything, Toi, Ronel, and Juneta!

And thank you, all four hundred and fifty-seven of you, for being a member of this book club!

Happy Reading (and writing),

Chrys

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

The IWSG book club selections for Sept/Oct/Nov would've been The Heroine's Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture by Gail Carriger and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (as a good example of voice). I was really looking forward to reading and discussing these two books, so I am still going to read them for myself. If either of these books sound good to you, I encourage you to read them for yourself, too. I will talk about them on my blog later this year. 

Happy Reading!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

NOTE: This next part of my post does not relate to the beginning of my post. I already had this post about books and reading planned for today.


DON'T SHAME READERS FOR WHAT THEY READ

(OR WRITERS FOR WHAT THEY WRITE)


Don't shame readers for what genres and formats they like to read.

Or writers for what genres and formats they like to write.

(This started as a post for readers until I realized it went for writers as well.)


FORMAT:

Print novels aren't the only correct format.

Audiobooks are real books.

Ebooks are real books.

Graphic novels are real books.

Comic books are real books.

Picture books are real books.

Poetry collections are real books.

Essay collections are real books.

Short story collections are real books.

As a matter of fact...

Short stories are real literature.

FUN FACT: Short stories are one of the oldest forms of literature.

Novelettes and novellas are real literature, too.

Short stories, novelettes, and novellas (usually published as eBooks) count toward reading goals/challenges (as do picture books, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc.). They are complete works of fiction. Writing them involves a special skillset, and reading them for pleasure or toward challenges is acceptable.

ALL reading is valid.

In terms of publishing, short stories, novelettes, and novellas are publishable and readers DO read them.

And writers who write short fiction (anything shorter than a novel) ARE REAL WRITERS.


GENRE:

Just because you may not like a genre doesn't make it any less than the genres you prefer.

The romance genre is the most criticized genre ever. And romance authors are heavily criticized and judged, even by fellow writers.

But romance is a $1.4 billion industry and makes up 1/3 of the fiction market. Romance is the best-selling book genre in the entire publishing industry, and the most profitable.

Not everyone can write romance. It involves a special skillset as well as certain qualities, such as a HEA (happily-ever-after) or HFN (happy-for-now) endings. 

EX: Nicholas Sparks does NOT write romance. His books have bittersweet (or just plain sad) endings. His books are love stories.

Check out this article: What's the Difference Between a Romance Novel and a Love Story?

Romance is not all about sex. Romance books are NOT mommy porn. There's many romance sub-genres, age categories, and heat levels. In fact, romance has a vast heat range from zero sexual contact to erotica. Oh, and men read romance, too.

Romance stories are complex, because people and relationships are complex, and that's what romance stories delve into. 


Don't shame readers for what genres they like to read, or writers for what genres they like to write, whether that's:

Romance

Erotica

MlM (men loving men)

WlW (woman loving women)

LGBTQIA+

Christian Fiction (i.e. Amish romance)

Religious Fiction (ALL religions)

Monster Romance

Young Adult

New Adult

Children's

Memoirs

Non-fiction

Self-Help

Historical

Fantasy

Science Fiction

Horror

AND ALL THE OTHER GENRES/SUB-GENRES NOT LISTED HERE.


You read you. I'll read me. Everyone will read them.

No more shaming readers for what they read!


You write you. I’ll write me. Everyone will write them.

No more shaming writers for what they write!


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

REBUILDING MY STREET TEAM:

 


QUESTION: Have you ever been shamed (judged) for what you like to read? Or have you seen this happen? Writers, have you ever been shamed (judged) for what you like to write?

I've seen this happen for romance, audio books, and shorter works (eBooks).