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As Tuesday approaches, many of us in Florida are contemplating a very serious question: how many dead people are going to vote this week? Yes, I said “dead people.” Over the past several decades, Florida has been forced to embrace a new tradition of allowing dead people to vote in the general election. There are counties that boast 186% voter turnout (I’m not kidding at all)! Sadly, the dead in Florida tend to vote straight ticket – all for the same party (usual not the same party they voted for when alive, by the way).
Lawyers have argued that it’s a civil rights issue to attempt to remove the dead from the eligible voter roles in the state (think about that one for a minute). But no one ever talks about exactly HOW the dead cast their vote (especially those who have been dead for decades). Visions of horror movies fill my mind as I contemplate their election day participation. Wouldn’t you love to be a poll watcher at a cemetery? How would the press conduct its exit interviews?
The Dead Vote has been known to have a profound impact on Florida elections lately. I don’t know how up-to-date the dead are with the candidates and issues surrounding this coming election, but I sincerely hope that they vote responsibly like any other good, informed voter.
Good luck, candidates! May the dead be with you!
As many of you know, the last book in my 7-book Action Adventure series, The Knights of the Saltire, is about to be released. Legacy of the Grand Master is about the daughter of the series’ main characters taking her place in the “family business.” I wrote this novel nearly five years ago, and when it was finished, I put the series aside to work on other projects. Since then, I’ve written six novels: one Science Fiction, one Fantasy, and four Historical Fiction. I am immensely proud of these novels, but like a first love, I have a special place in my heart for the series.
I’ve taken a break from writing new novels and have been working on converting the series into screenplays (either television or film I haven’t decided). As a result, I’ve felt an irresistible pull to explore new material for these characters that I’ve come to think of as family. In the first seven books, I’ve dealt with thieves, murderers, stalkers, rapists, drug dealers, smugglers, corrupt politicians trying to take over the government, arms dealers, mercenaries, foreign and domestic terrorists, crooked cops, and counterfeiters. But there is one crime that I’ve never written about, and it’s such a scourge on humanity that I believe it is the perfect material to include in the series: human trafficking.
So, I’m now working on what will be the eighth (and possibly ninth if I can’t do the story justice in a single volume) book in the series: The Legacy Enslaved. I don’t know when the manuscript(s) will be finished, but the initial research and outlining has begun. Stay tuned for more news as it becomes available.
NICAEA – THE RISE OF THE IMPERIAL CHURCH
A 69,956 Word Historical Fiction Novel by William Speir
Early in the 4th century, a new religious doctrine threatens to split the Christian churches apart. The Roman Emperor grows tired of the debate. He needs a unified church to control his empire in ways that his legions can’t. In 325 AD, he summons all Christian bishops throughout the empire to meet at Nicaea and end the debate once and for all. The Council of Nicaea creates the blueprint for the Christian churches going forward, but is it the blueprint for an institution dedicated to the salvation of mankind, or for a tool of statecraft to benefit the Emperor?
ARIAS, the priest of the church at Baucalis near Alexandria, Egypt, is a devout follower of The Way, which has been the doctrine of the Christian churches for almost three hundred years. He serves his congregation with a deep sense of commitment, and he lives his faith every minute of the day. But a new doctrine is gaining popularity in the churches of the eastern empire – a doctrine that has little in common with The Way. ARIAS leads the opposition to the new doctrine, which is championed by ALEXANDER, the Bishop of Alexandria and ARIAS’ immediate superior. The two men cannot find common ground, and their disagreements threaten to tear the churches apart.
EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I is weary of the debate. At the urging of his lifelong friend, HOSIUS, the Bishop of Hispania, CONSTANTINE ends the persecution of Christians throughout the empire. But there is a price: CONSTANTINE needs a church to help him control the citizens of his empire. HOSIUS is tasked with delivering a unified church to CONSTANTINE, but the disagreements between ARIAS and ALEXANDER threaten to make that task impossible.
HOSIUS convinces CONSTANTINE to call a council of bishops to resolve the issues. ARIAS welcomes the chance to present his arguments before the council, not realizing that the council is just for show. HOSIUS and CONSTANTINE have already defined the new doctrine for the Christian churches, and the bishops are only attending the council meeting to publically give their agreement.
ARIAS attempts to convince the bishops to turn away from the new doctrine, but will he be able to stand against the Emperor and his supporters? When faced with choice of either accepting the new doctrine or being exiled from the empire, will ARIAS and his supporters choose exile, rather than sacrifice their principles and betray their faith?
NICAEA – THE RISE OF THE IMERPIAL CHURCH is a stand-alone novel.
THE OLYMPIUM OF BACCHUS 12
A 79,635 Word Science Fiction Novel by William Speir
The year is 2614 – 206 years after Earth was destroyed in a natural cataclysm and the United Earth Planets Confederation (UEPC) became humanity’s new home. Spread across cluster of 8 star systems, the 22 inhabited planets of the UEPC thrived and were at peace for more than 200 years… until they came. In an unprovoked attack, alien invaders wipe out the UEPC’s battle fleet and all major cities on 21 planets. Hidden between two great nebulas on the edge of UEPC space, only Bacchus 12 is spared from destruction. The population of Bacchus 12, along with the survivors rescued from the other UEPC planets, must work together to defend humanity and deny the aliens the prize that they desire most – the mineral Olympium, which exists on Bacchus 12.
RICK DOUGLAS, the Planetary Administrator for Bacchus 12 and a devoted family man, is going about his business of directing planetary services on behalf of the Confederation. His job provides him with little real authority, but he enjoys his work because it gives him the chance to serve the people. When he is unable to contact the Confederation government on Trinity 5, he tries to raise the planetary governments of the other Confederation planets, only to discover that civilian communications no longer function. The military is still able to communicate, and Rick leans that the UEPC has been attacked by an unknown alien force. The fleet has been largely destroyed, and most of the cities on the other Confederation planets have been levelled. Only Bacchus 12 remains untouched.
Rick is faced with several crises. Bacchus 12 relies on the other Confederation planets for food, ships, parts, and most other items needed to survive. There is also no longer a Confederation civilian government. The Planetary Council elects Rick as the new Confederation President, and now the survival of the human race falls on his shoulders. He is unsure of himself, but the situation gives him no time to get lost in his own self-doubt. He begins work with the military to create defenses for the planet and to mount rescue operations to the other planets. The survivors must be found and brought back to Bacchus 12 before the alien attackers begin their ground assaults, but the survivors must also be housed and fed – something that Bacchus 12 has no way to do at the moment.
Under Rick’s leadership, many of the survivors are successfully relocated to Bacchus 12 and a mechanism for food production is set up to feed the remnants of the human race. When the alien attackers discover Bacchus 12’s existence, will Rick be able to implement his plans for the defense of the planet? Will he overcome a new and equally deadly threat from within his own cabinet? Will the aliens be destroyed before they seize Bacchus 12? Will humanity survive?
THE OLYMPIUM OF BACCHUS 12 is a stand-alone novel.
July 1, 2016 is the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, PA, the high water mark of the Confederacy. After this battle, the War Between the States raged for another two years, but the South never regained the success that it enjoyed during the first half of the war.
At the end of the war, our constitutional form of government, as defined by the founding fathers, no longer existed. The states, which created the federal government, became subordinate to the federal government. The states no longer controlled currency or the armed forces. The states no longer had the right to leave the Union (other than Texas). This led to the states losing their participation in the federal government when the amendment was passed that made the senate elected by voters, rather than appointed by states, rendering the state governments little more than provincial administrators.
As we celebrate the birth of our nation on July 4th, let us also pause to remember the death of that nation four-score-and-nine years later. The United States of America is no longer that nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” as our founding fathers established. We are no longer citizens who are endowed by our maker with inalienable rights – the government now dictates our rights, despite the Constitution that they swore an oath to defend. Out politicians believe that parts of the Bill of Rights are “terrible mistakes made by the founding fathers” and are demanding that these parts be removed. As a friend of mine reminded me: “When politicians ask you to weaken the Bill of Rights, one would do well to remember that the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect you from the politicians.”
We are a nation under occupation by a government that was established under an illegal force of arms. The change of our nation from “These United States ARE” to “The United States IS” was never ratified by the citizens of the United States. It was thrust upon us by a military dictator and his band of blue-coat thugs. We are not truly free, and we haven’t been since 1865, when the nation established by our founding fathers died.
Abraham Lincoln, the tyrant responsible for the senseless deaths of nearly half a million Americans, brought this ruin upon us. It’s because of him that this country is now in the dire situation that we find ourselves in. His beliefs in an all-powerful central government that rules the states and the people – in direct opposition to our Constitutional form of government as conceived and created by our founding fathers – has grown out of control, and it all started during Mr. Lincoln’s little war. The states and the people must someday exercise their Constitutional rights to reestablish a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, or the citizens of the United States of American will find themselves enslaved by a government that is leading us to our utter destruction.
I started as an author writing non-fiction, and I changed to writing novels later. Why? Because writing non-fiction has challenges that novelists rarely encounter – “know-it-alls.”
My non-fiction book, “Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors,” is based on over 20 years’ experience working with Civil War-related artillery. But there are people out there who are convinced that they are the only ones who are the keepers of “the official versions.” These people do everything in their power to discredit and intimidate anyone who holds to a different viewpoint/experience. I knew that releasing the new edition of my artillery book would expose me to these people once again, and as expected, they couldn’t resist behaving in the same ill-mannered way that they have always treated me.
Fortunately, I don’t now, nor have I ever, cared about what they think of me, but their particular brand of evil is now aimed at hurting my book sales. It’s no longer about my reputation; it’s about my income. When it comes to my books and my livelihood, they are quite insane if they think I’ll take their nonsense sitting down. They have pushed me too far this time, and they had better be prepared for what they’re about to unleash.
For years, I thought that the only way to get published was to be represented by a literary agent. The publishing industry perpetuates this myth – just look at how much Writer’s Digest talks about finding and keeping agents if you don’t believe me. But the truth is: it is not necessary to be represented by a literary agent to get published. I’m living proof.
There are many ways to get books published. One option is self-publishing, although that option has the most difficult path to financial success for an author and puts 100% of the marketing and sales efforts squarely on the back of the author. Another option is small press publishing, which typically uses a business model where the publisher and the author are partners in getting the book published and into the hands of potential readers. The third option is large press publishing. Unless you’re already a best-selling author, this option treats the author little better than a commodity and still puts much of the marketing and sales efforts on the back of the author until the book has proven itself worthy of the publisher’s continued investment.
None of these options requires having literary agent representation.
How do Literary Agents fit into the publication process?
Put simply, literary agents are supposed to help you find a publisher. In theory, they have relationships with publishers and know what the publishers are looking for. For a fee, paid out of monies the author receives from the publisher, the literary agent will try to find a publisher willing to purchase the publishing rights to an author’s book or story. If the literary agent is successful, he/she and the author benefit financially. If the literary agent is unsuccessful, he/she will often drop the author, forcing the author to look for new representation.
So literary agents seem like an indispensable resource for getting books or stories published, right? Wrong. While they can serve a useful purpose, they are not necessary.
Myth #1. Literary Agents Work for the Author.
Literary Agents work for agencies, and those agencies have revenue targets that their literary agents are expected to meet. The authors they chose to represent have manuscripts that the literary agent believes can be sold. But on what do they base this belief? Does the literary agent maintain a list of what publishers are looking for to help decide which manuscripts to represent? In many cases, yes. But literary agents are also like fashion designers; they want to set trends as much as they want to follow trends. Look at 50 Shades of Gray. Did publishers put out the word that they wanted this type of book, or did a clever literary agent convince a publisher to explore new ground? Look at the LGBT genre. Did the publishers decide to explore this subject matter, or was it literary agents desiring to set new trends that launched this genre?
From these two examples, you could easily say that the literary agents who pushed these manuscripts did indeed help their authors, and I don’t want to imply that literary agents don’t help their authors. The point I’m making is that literary agents have their own ideas about what will and won’t sell, and it is often different from what the publishers think will and won’t sell. An author may have the perfect manuscript for what a publisher wants to publish, but trying to find a literary agent may keep the publisher from ever seeing that manuscript if the literary agent is pursuing his/her own agenda for what should be published.
Myth #2. Publishers Won’t Accept Manuscripts Directly from Authors.
Most publishers accept submissions directly from authors. Literary agents can make the submission process easier with the larger publishers, but it is not the only way that publishers accept and review submissions.
So how does an author decide if he/she wants to be represented by a literary agent in order to find a publisher or wants to self-represent his/her manuscript to find a publisher? Well, it’s a numbers game – pure and simple.
The process for finding a literary agent and finding a publisher is essentially the same. To find a literary agent, the author must do research to find which agencies are looking to represent the manuscript’s genre and subject matter. The find a publisher, the author must do research to find which publishers want to publish (and have a track record for publishing) the manuscript’s genre and subject matter. The same research is required when searching for literary agents and publishers.
If the author has written a manuscript in the adult fiction genre, there are a large number of publishers to choose from that handle that genre. There are also a large number of literary agencies that handle that genre. In this example, it could be advantageous to have a literary agent help navigate the volume of publishers.
However, if the author has written a manuscript in the historical fiction genre, the situation is different. First of all, most literary agents who claim to represent historical fiction actually represent historical romance. Researching all of the genres that the literary agent represents will help spot those who mis-label romance, fantasy, young adult, or middle-grade genres as historical fiction, but that does not guarantee that the author will identify which literary agents are looking for true historical fiction. Second, the number of publishers who handle true historical fiction is also low. Rather than take the effort to find a literary agent, hoping that he/she represent true historical fiction and not one of the mis-labeled genres, it’s easier to self-represent the manuscript and go straight to the publishers.
From my perspective, if the number of literary agencies is greater than the number of publishers who handle a manuscript’s genre, then go straight to the publishers and don’t bother with finding a literary agent. If the number of publishers is higher that the number of literary agencies who handle a manuscript’s genre, or if the number of publishers is quite high, then literary agent representation could be the better way to go.
Myth #3. An Author Can’t Sell Movie Rights Without a Literary Agent.
This depends on the contract that the author signed with the publisher. It has nothing to do with literary agent representation.
So what is required to get a book published?
In this new world of self-publishing, the only thing required is a manuscript. That said, I strongly recommend that the author also use editors, critiquers, and beta readers.
When an author writes a manuscript, the author is writing the story that he/she wants to tell. That’s what the first draft of any manuscript is. But there is a lot of work required to take that manuscript and transform it into something that a reader wants to read.
Sadly, many self-published authors embarrass themselves by publishing books with terrible grammar and typos. Readers don’t want to read books that are amateurish. Editors who focus on grammar, focus on continuity (ensuring that the story doesn’t contradict itself or leave sub-plots unresolved), and focus on style, are valuable resources to any author. These editors help polish the manuscript so it’s ready to be read.
Critiquers are also valuable. Manu authors are members of critique groups. The critiques offered by these groups help polish the manuscripts by providing feedback on characterization, plot development, pacing of the story, etc.
Beta readers are an author’s test market. These readers are a mix of authors and avid readers who look at the entire manuscript and provide feedback on the overall story. Beta readers help determine if the story that the author wanted to write has been successfully transformed into a story that other people want to read.
Regardless of whether you self-publish, self-represent your manuscript, or seek literary agent representation, I cannot stress strongly enough the need to use editors, critiquers, and beta readers before making any attempt to publish your manuscript.
Literary agents serve a useful purpose in the publishing process, but they are not for everyone, and they are certainly not required to get a book published. Rather than focus on how to get representation, the author should focus on the best method for getting his/her manuscript published. If literary agents seem to be the best way to get the manuscript in front of the right publisher, then by all means pursue representation. But don’t be afraid to self-represent a manuscript if it makes sense for the situation. I self-represented 11 manuscripts and signed publishing deals (small press, not self-publishing) for all of them without the aid of a literary agent. If can be done.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Speir’s Artillery Manual is the Definitive Work for Reenactors, Living Historians, Ceremonial Artillerists, and those interested in Using Antique Artillery Safely.
Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is proud to announce the release of Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors, the definitive work on the subject by Award-Winning Author William Speir. The book is based on decades of experience keeping Civil War Artillery Reenactors safe and historically accurate. Anyone who serves as part of an artillery crew using muzzle-loading artillery, and anyone interested in the hobby of Civil War Artillery Reenacting, should have this book!
This single volume textbook, based on earlier works by the author, includes information on the nomenclature, ordnance, deployment, command, personnel, and drills for Muzzle-Loading Artillery used in America between 1812 and 1865. The primary focus of this textbook is on Field Artillery – the most common type of Muzzle-Loading Artillery portrayed by reenactors, living historians, and ceremonial units. Drills for Mortars, Naval Artillery, and Heavy Artillery are also included for reenacting groups, living historians, and ceremonial units who use these types of artillery in their portrayals.
About the Author:
William Speir was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1962, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a recipient of The Honourable Order of St. Barbara award from the United States Army and The Ancient Order of St. Barbara award from the Royal Hutt River Army Artillery.
For over 20 years, William Speir has been a Civil War Artillery Reenactor, Chief of Artillery, and Muzzle-Loading Artillery Instructor. In 2004, he wrote a series of Muzzle-Loading Artillery Manuals for the Loyal Train of Artillery Chapter of the United States Field Artillery Association’s Artillery School Instructor Cadre (LTAC-USFAA) and for the Royal Hutt River Military College School of Artillery (RHRMC-SOA). In 2011, new editions of these manuals were produced and were made available to the general public for the first time.
William Speir is also an award-winning novelist, writing books in the historical fiction, action adventure, fantasy, and science fiction genres. For more information about William Speir, please visit his website at WilliamSpeir.com.
Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors is available in case-laminate hardcover from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, online retailers and select stores. Title is available for wholesale discounts to schools, libraries, non-profits, retailers, and vendors through Progressive Rising Phoenix Press or Ingram/LSI.
Review copies and interviews available upon request.
Publisher website: http://www.progressiverisingphoenix.com/
Author website: http://www.williamspeir.com
For media inquiries, please contact Publisher: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Writers Helping Writers”
Contact: Chris Coward
President, Florida Writers Association
FWA Website: http://www.floridawriters.net
LOCAL WRITER WILLIAM SPEIR WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD, ANNOUNCED AT FLORIDA WRITERS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. 17 October 2015: Orlando, Florida The Florida Writers Association, Inc., (FWA) has announced that William Speir of Champions Gate, Florida won a prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA). William Speir’s winning entry, The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson, won Second Place for Unpublished Historical Fiction.
The award was announced at FWA’s recent four-day annual conference in Altamonte Springs, Florida. This annual competition, which received 393 submissions, was RPLA’s fourteenth.
“This is the most comprehensive and competitive RPLA we’ve ever had,” said Chris Coward, RPLA chairperson. “The RPLA administrative team, judges, and entrants all did an amazing job.”
In all, the competition covered 30 adult genres and 15 Youth genres, with published and unpublished entries considered separately. There were four grand awards, as well.
The top award for Youth, the Candice Coghill Memorial Award, was given for Asleep, a book-length work of fiction by Mikaela Bender.
For adults, the Dahris Clair Memorial Award for plays went to C.J. Godwin and Marie Vernon for Graceland Express.
The Published Book of the Year was Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint, an educational/informational submission by Ken Pelham.
The Unpublished Book of the Year was Adrift, a mystery, by Micki Browning. Micki received more than a trophy. She also received a guaranteed reading by one of the fastest growing independent publishers in the U.S. and preeminent publisher of original mystery, thriller, and suspense titles: Oceanview Publishing.
“A win at any level can help any writer market their manuscript or published book, and the detailed feedback from the judges is invaluable for all entrants,” Ms. Coward said.
“I would like to thank the judges and staff of the Royal Palm Literary Award competition,” William Speir said after accepting his award. “I also want to thank my family, and my publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, for believing in the book and agreeing to publish it. They are the best!”
The Florida Writers Association, 1,500 members strong and growing, is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization that supports the state’s established and emerging writers. Membership is open to the public.
The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is a service of the Florida Writers Association established to recognize excellence in members’ published and unpublished works while providing blind, objective, and constructive written assessments for all entrants.
For additional information, visit the FWA website: floridawriters.net, where you’ll also find more about RPLA and the complete list of 2015 winners, WilliamSpeir.com for details about William Speir and his published works and current projects, and progressiverisingphoenix.com for more information about William Speir’s publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.
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It is sad that my generation, and the ones that followed, are so hyper-concerned about conformance to the current fickle, fashionable, popular thought that anyone who stands up for what’s right, for what’s true, for what’s proper, for what’s unpopular, is met with derision, antagonism, anger, and hate.
Why is society so fearful of those espousing unpopular beliefs? Is society so frail that it cannot support the weight of differing opinions? Or can people not handle thoughts that disagree with their own lest they be forced to reexamine their own beliefs and discover that they may, indeed, be completely wrong?
What a terrible way to live that must be!
As Albert Einstein once said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
It is time to stop demanding that our fellow members of society conform to the popular thought of the day. Greatness comes from individual inspiration, not group-think.
If you are confused about why we, as a society, have lost our greatness, you need only look at how much emotional effort is spent forcing others to agree with and conform to what’s popular.
Who decides what’s popular anyway? Is it those who encourage their fellow man to strive for greatness, or is it those who wish to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator so that those who choose not to strive for greatness are not left behind by those who do? Before blindly embracing popular thought, discover the motives of those who originated the thought in the first place. Was it to help men and women reach their highest potential, or was it to stifle that creative spark that leads to greatness?
Rather than be so concerned about what others think, each of us should throw off the shackles on our own minds and strive for the individual greatness of which we are all capable. Don’t be concerned with what everyone else thinks. Have the courage to be unpopular – it is the only way to achieve your full potential.