About Writers, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Sharing some thoughts and experiences about the Authors Guild

By Victor Acquista

Liz BNo,  it isn’t: “a medieval association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power” (although, that would be pretty cool), but it is: “an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal”.

I mentioned the Authors Guild in a previous comment and GD suggested I provide some information. I never really thought too much about it, but there is something medieval sounding about joining and being part of a guild. I assure you, the AG is very up to date on what is going on in the world of writing and publishing and can be a very solid resource to support writers professionally. This will primarily be a cut and paste post with information from their website: https://www.authorsguild.org/

Our mission is to support working writers. We advocate for the rights of writers by supporting free speech, fair contracts, and copyright. We create community and we fight for a living wage.

WHO WE ARE

The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Since its beginnings over a century ago, we have served as the collective voice of American authors.

Our members include novelists, historians, journalists, and poets—traditionally and independently published—as well as literary agents and representatives of writers’ estates.

The Guild advocates for authors on issues of copyright, fair contracts, free speech and tax fairness, and has initiated lawsuits in defense of authors’ rights, where necessary. We represent authors on the Hill, in state legislatures, and in government agencies. And we work to establish fair royalty rates for both e-books and print books.

Our members have access to a broad range of legal and web services. The Guild’s legal staff reviews members’ book and freelance contracts and intervenes in publishing disputes. We provide liability insurance at group rates, a Back-in-Print program, and a free subscription to our quarterly Bulletin, as well as host and help develop members’ websites. Our new, re-designed website includes a more robust member directory (searchable by numerous categories), an events calendar, daily and weekly news updates, digital archives of the Bulletin and recorded seminars. We also hold in-person and phone-in seminars and symposia on issues critical to the writing life, and more informal gatherings throughout the country.

Information about membership can be found here: https://www.authorsguild.org/join/

Here are some of the salient details:

WHO CAN JOIN?

  • Traditionally published authors
  • Self-published authors
  • Poets
  • Translators
  • Ghostwriters
  • Illustrators
  • Freelance writers
  • Writers who’ve received a contract offer
  • Writers working on a manuscript
  • College & Grad Students
  • Literary Agents
  • Editors
  • Attorneys
  • Estates/Heirs

Regular Membership: Traditionally published authors with at least 1 published book in the U.S.; self-published authors who have made at least $5,000 in the past 18 months from their writing; and freelance writers who have published 3+ pieces or made $5,000 in the past 18 months.

Associate Membership: Writers who have received a contract offer from a traditional U.S. publisher or an offer of representation from a U.S. literary agent; self-published authors or freelance writers who have made at least $500 in the past 18 months from their writing.

There are other membership categories including for students and emerging writers. Standard dues are $125 annually.

I have personally met the Executive Director, Mary Rasenberger, when she hosted a meeting for Guild members in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. She traveled to selected places throughout the country to talk about the Guild, some of the current issues facing authors, what’s happening with lobbying efforts to advocate for authors, boost membership, and a host of other issues. I found the presentation to be excellent and it provided a wonderful opportunity to meet other authors and hear about their experiences and concerns.

I have participated in writing groups, attended conferences and workshops, and generally been involved with a number of professional activities related to writing. As an organization, I feel as though the Guild is working on my behalf to advocate for authors and to be a resource. This type of involvement is quite different from the other professional activities that I just mentioned. I found my publicist through the Guild’s resource network and felt confidant that the Guild would not recommend a shoddy company. I have used the Guild’s legal services on two different occasions. I worked with the Guild in notifying them about a problem with Kindle royalties not posting correctly after I learned from Amazon that the problem involved multiple authors. Although Amazon did correct the royalty issue, I know the AG got involved. I have also used their resource library a number of times.

I could probably go on, but if you aren’t interested enough to poke around their website to learn more from what I’ve shared thus far, the Authors Guild probably is not your cup of tea. As you can tell, I think they are a fine organization. Final comment—I always include the fact that I am a member of the AG in my query letters. I don’t know if it helps or not, but in my mind it conveys something positive.

 

 

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About Writers, blogging, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Writing to Raise Consciousness—Meaning and Intent

“Writing to Raise Consciousness”–it’s my tagline, my author branding. Since I write both fiction and nonfiction, it might seem challenging to wrap both types of writing into the same package. Eyebrows raise, faces morph into puzzled expressions, and people ask the obvious: “What do you mean? What do you mean when you make a statement saying you want to write in ways that raise consciousness? Please explain…”

Ask ten people to define “consciousness” and you will likely get ten different answers. Even among scholars who study consciousness from scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical perspectives, there is little agreement about what consciousness actually is. Without agreed upon definitional characteristics, how do I attempt to raise or elevate something we are not clear about and may not even be able to measure or quantify at all? It isn’t like raising the temperature of something through a process of heating. It isn’t like inciting a riot with inflammatory rhetoric. Physics and sociology have ways of measuring those processes.

Is this a blind men problem—trying to describe an elephant, each with only a fragmented understanding? Is this some sort of dark matter/dark energy construct—useful in trying to understand something we really do not understand? Am I deluding myself in thinking I can write ‘stuff’ that is going to actually raise consciousness? To complicate matters further, while playing my own Devil’s Advocate, if one believes consciousness is infinite and beyond constructs of space and time, then you cannot raise, elevate, expand, or increase it in any way. X + infinity still = infinity. In some ways, it is a thorny thicket.

Despite these challenges, I do not back down from my intent to raise consciousness through my writing, nor do I move from my belief that I can actually do so. The method to achieve this works at different levels or dimensions. It also hopefully works on both individual and collective consciousness.

The first level is rather simple and straightforward. There is widespread agreement that a relationship exists between consciousness and awareness. Precisely what that relationship is can be difficult to say, but for purposes of this argument, let us simply posit that awareness and consciousness are related. If I write something about a particular social ill such as violence, or racism, or children sex-slaves, and my writing (fiction or nonfiction) calls attention to this social ill, makes people more aware of the problem, I have raised consciousness at this level.

There is a long history of literature calling attention to social injustice. To name a few examples:

  • The horror of war—Johnny Got Your Gun
  • Racial prejudice—To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Exploitation of immigrants—The Jungle

There is another type of ‘calling attention to an issue’ that goes beyond social ills. Authors often write about potential problems that might occur in order to raise awareness, to get readers to think about a particular issue. What if artificial intelligence got out of control as in Terminator? What would an Orwellian 1984 future of government control and propaganda be like? These topics are often explored in speculative fiction. Robert Heinlein, one of my favorite science fiction authors, often addresses social themes in his writing. In many ways, his writing helps to raise consciousness at this first level. My science fiction novel, Sentient, calls attention to certain social themes. Isolation/separation and how this contributes to competition over cooperation, how we treat people with mental illness, and acculturation to violence are just a few of the issues I touch upon. In my nonfiction book, Pathways to Health, I am asking readers to think about health in a different way, to recognize the distortions and limitations that characterize our beliefs about our own health and how we can achieve better health.

What underlies this first-level approach to raising consciousness is to call attention, to get the reader to notice or to think about something in an introspective way. The process is one of raising awareness so as to effect change. The change may be in a belief, an action or behavior of some sort. This touches upon the second-level, i.e. evolution. I’ll loosely go with a broad definition of evolution as the gradual development of something. The key piece here is “development”–something that occurs as change over time. In this sense, writing to raise consciousness represents an effort to support and promote the evolution of consciousness both on an individual and collective level.

This type of development follows a sequence, much the same as a child first learns to crawl, then walk, then run. This represents increasing motor skill and developmental maturity. On a psychological level, the ego develops along a sequence of self-centered ‘me’ to expanding awareness of others–family, nation, the world, the universe. This is a natural progression of awareness and an evolution of consciousness. This change is accompanied by new ways of thinking, believing, and behaving.

A similar developmental sequence occurs as part of spiritual growth and maturation. Some teachings explain this spiritual evolution as following a path toward enlightenment. I am particularly fond of Integral Theory and how it characterizes the different stages of growth and development along a psycho-spiritual evolution (outward) and involution (inward) path. I am also fond of David Hawkins’ Map of Human Consciousness that delineates characteristic thoughts, beliefs, and actions accompanying each developmental stage of the evolution of consciousness. When I write, sometimes I intend to raise consciousness by getting readers to think differently, to challenge beliefs, to expand and grow in their consciousness. In some ways this represents personal growth and transformation toward a higher level of consciousness. I have often had this experience myself when reading the wisdom of a variety of spiritual teachers. Some of the chapters in my book, Health Wise—Integral Lessons in Transformation, are specifically targeted towards raising consciousness at this second level.

I’ll touch upon the third level more briefly. I also write with the intention of raising consciousness in a much more indigenous way. My explanation thus far has focused on raising awareness and consciousness at the individual level and more broadly at the collective level of society. I also believe that there is a planetary aspect to consciousness that also follows a developmental or evolutionary sequence. The term, “Noosphere” was first coined by Teilhard de Chardin. Basically, you can think of this as not only our specie’s, but the entire planet’s collective consciousness. Such consciousness exists as part of an entire cosmic consciousness. Our planet’s noosphere is evolving towards an expanded capacity as part of the natural evolution of planetary consciousness. This theory/belief is expounded upon in some detail by José Argüelles in his book, Manifesto for the Noosphere.

Many have written about the great shift in consciousness occurring during these times. Rather than writing about this shift or about the noosphere, I am writing with the specific desire of facilitating the shift to occur, to making my small contribution toward the evolution of our planetary consciousness. My individual consciousness, my thoughts and behaviors, and specifically my writing are all generally intended towards promoting the expansion of the noosphere. In my book, Sentient, when I am writing about telepathy and collective consciousness, these are processes associated with the noosphere. Yet, whether or not anyone reads anything that I have written, anything that I do, write, or even think potentially influences the collective planetary consciousness at this third level.

Complicated…straightforward…perfectly muddy? I don’t expect the typical reader to really understand what I mean by, “Writing to Raise Consciousness”. In some ways, it doesn’t matter if a reader understands my intent, my goal. What matters to me is whether or not something I have written has the intended outcome. Does it work? Am I successful in achieving my goal? I don’t know for sure, but if you are at least thinking about these things, feeling a bit introspective, wondering about your own consciousness or the greater collective consciousness, then perhaps I have had some small success. I think of this effort applied in three different dimensions at which I can potentially raise consciousness. In some small way, I hope what I have written has been instrumental in raising your consciousness…

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Uncategorized

A naked short story

JPEG cover art   I’m still trying to determine whether this is a worthwhile endeavor. Self-publishing a short story all by its lonesome self provokes an internal debate–are you serious vs. why not? Is this a lame attempt to make my author page look better or a legitimate way to get my work out there?

It could be that the answer includes a bit of both. I tried several mainstream sci-fi magazines and kept getting rejected. Is this because the story or the writing is not very good? Is this because I have not yet built up my writing credentials to be given serious consideration? Are there other reasons to explain the editorial decision making? In all honesty, I am not in a position to say.

Yet, I’ve written a story and I would like to get it out to prospective readers. Publishing this solo gets the job done. At the end of the story under the  “About the author…” blurb, I put in a plug for a sci-fi novel I’ve written (and happens to be published by a small press). My thoughts are if a reader likes the short story, perhaps they will purchase the novel. At some point I’ll give the story away as a “loss-leader” to try and generate sales of other things I have written. As a marketing tool, I think the stand-alone short story might have utility.

I welcome all feedback positive or negative about the story, the writing, the cover, and the rationale for self-publishing a naked short. If you send me an email (victoracquista@victoracquista.com) I will gladly send you a pdf file, a gift copy through Amazon, or both. It’s a quick read at less than 5K words. To stimulate curiosity, here is a blurb:

A reclusive physicist vanishes.
A brilliant, unexplained flash of light.
A mysterious spherical void.
A blackboard equation filled with complex calculations, a portion inexplicably missing.
A government cover up.
All explained in this classic sci-fi short story…

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