Sunday, January 30, 2011

Part 3 – Before You Go To Press

Spelling and Grammar Matter
Thanks to the internet more people than ever are writing on a daily basis – they are blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, IMing, emailing, texting, etc. etc. However, all this writing has lead to a decline in basic grammar and spelling. This may be fine for everyday communications but that does not make it fine for books. Spell check will find words which are spelled incorrectly but it will not differentiate between there/their/they're, point out words that are used incorrectly, correct punctuation, etc. There are also grammatical conventions for constructing things such as dialog that should be followed if you want your published work to look professional.

Authors who are not open to having their manuscripts proofed, edited, and critiqued should really consider whether they are serious about publishing. Professionals in the publishing business tell me that if an author resists editing and making changes they cannot work with them and will terminate the contract. While it is perfectly reasonable to resist significant content changes to a book (one of my agents wanted me to rewrite The Old Mermaid's Tale for the Young Adult market -- I refused), writers have to comply with standard grammar, punctuation, structure, etc. if they want to be taken seriously.

COMMIT TO QUALITY
Please remember this: when you publish a badly written, badly proofed, 
badly edited book, you don't just make yourself look bad, 
you make all self-published authors look bad.
Readers are becoming increasingly sensitive to self-publishing and have no reticence
to give very bad reviews to badly constructed books.
As a self-publisher commit to the highest standards possible.

Preparing Files: Print Publishing vs. ePublishing
Remember: printed material is made of ink, electronic material is made of light.
When you are preparing files, either to send to press yourself or to give to a designer you have hired, it is important to know the difference in specifications for printed books and electronic books. This is particularly important for image files (covers, photos, illustrations, etc.). Print publishing files need to be in CMYK format and hi resolution, ePublishing files are in RGB and low resolution.

CMYK/HiRes: CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. Those are the standard inks in 4-color process printing. Most 4-color printers will require at least 300 dpi images. dpi means Dots Per Inch – this refers to the number of dots (or pixels for RGB) that compose an image or a letter.

RGB/LoRes: RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. Those are the rays of light that compose images in electronic media (eReaders, web sites, DVDs, etc.) Most images for electronic publishing can be 72dpi.

It is important to remember that you can always make hi-resolution files lo-res but once a file is lo-res increasing the resolution will make it blurry. When I am preparing photos and images for a book I follow these steps:
  • Save the original image in as close to its original state as possible in a file called: filename-prime.psd
  • Scale the image to the size needed for the book, convert it to CMYK, and set the resolution at 300dpi, then save it in a file called: filename-cmyk.tif
  • Scale the image to the size needed for the electronic version, convert it to RGB, and set the resolution at 72dpi, then save it in a file called: filename-rgb.jpg
That way you have the original in case you have to go back and make adjustments, plus the print version and the e-version.

TYPOGRAPHY
When a reader picks up a book and begins to read, s/he is committing to however many hours it takes to spend with the words on the page or on the screen. That means the type used for those words has to make the experience as pleasurable as possible. There are many types of typefaces but the two most important ones are serif and sans-serif. Serifs are those little pointy little things at the ends of the lines that make-up letters. A serif typeface – like Times Roman, Goudy Old Style, Garamond, Palatino, etc. – has serifs. A sans-serif (“sans” is French for “without”) does not have them – Arial/Helvetica, Verdana, Avant Garde, Futura, are all sans-serif.
For centuries text books, books, newspapers, and magazines have used serif type for large areas of copy and sans-serif for headlines and to emphasize certain areas. People have grown accustomed to reading text in serif type and generally find it easier to read. The digital age has made sans-serif type more popular for reading on-screen and many e-readers allow you to choose which typeface you prefer to read, which is a wonderful innovation in my opinion. However, for the text of printed books it is still wise to choose a standard serif typeface.

PLEASE resist the urge to choose unusual typefaces for large areas of copy! It is fine to use funky, elaborate, artsy, or exotic typefaces for titles, sub-heads, sidebars, etc. but not for large areas of text. I recently was sent a book by a self-published author whose alternating chapters were typeset in a standard serif-type and a Medieval-style black-face type. Those chapters were tedious to read and I skimmed over a lot. Use your fancy typefaces sparingly, please.

NEXT TIME: Some thoughts on good writing and good editing, then on to getting your newly-published book out into the world.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Part 2 continued - What is INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING and how is it different from subsidy publishing?

Unlike subsidy publishing, independent publishing is entirely controlled by the author. Most of the prominent writers who have self-published have done so independently so that they could publish under their own imprint. What this means is that they take control of the entire process which includes selecting a name for their publishing company (I use Parlez-Moi Press) and purchasing their ISBNs under that imprint so their books are published by their own imprint. Sometimes 3 or 4 authors work together to form a small press, one local example is Back Shore Press which was formed by Peter Anastas, Schuyler Hoffman, and Peter Tuttle to publish and promote their books.

This is how an independent publisher publishes:

  1. Editing and Proofing: No matter how skillful you are and no matter how much effort you put into your work it will need proofing. Mistakes occur even in books by major publishers. I am surprised by how often I find typos and inconsistencies in books by major authors. Independent publishers need to be particularly mindful of this. It is best if you can have your manuscript proofed by a professional – they are easy to find on the internet. Prices vary widely. If you are lucky enough to have an English teacher or someone very skillful at proof-reading among your family or friends, you can ask for their help but I recommend that at least two people with strong proofing skills read your manuscript. Neither of them will catch everything.

    Editing is more complicated. A good copy editor is invaluable and can save you from making embarrassing mistakes. I'll discuss copy editing later. For now, realize that a good copy editor will make sure your tenses are consistent, you don't make glaring mistakes (like killing off a character in chapter ten who then appears in chapter thirty-five – unless that's part of the plot), etc. When I wrote Each Angel Burns I couldn't decide on the right name for the “bad guy”. I went through five names before I decided on “Sinclair”. Thank God my copy editor caught all the places I forgot to change his name or readers would have been very confused!

  2. Layout and Design: Most printers will want your finished manuscript sent to them in a finished format, complete with page numbers, headers and footers, front matter (all the stuff that goes in the front of a book like title pages, copyright info, etc.), chapter numbers, etc. Usually they will ask for it to be in PDF format but they may also accept it in Quark or InDesign. In my experience most will NOT take Publisher or Word files. As an independent publisher you will either have to hire someone to do this or, if you have desktop publishing skills, do it yourself. If your book is a novel or straight text, this is relatively uncomplicated. If you require illustrations, photographs, etc. it may be more involved but a good designer/layout artist will know how to do what you need.

  3. Covers: Independent publishers take responsibility for creating or hiring someone to create their own covers. This is very important because, despite the old saw that you can't judge a book by its cover, most experienced readers have an innate sense of what a book's cover tells them about it. Other than bad proofing and bad copy editing, nothing screams “self published!” like a badly designed cover. The most important consideration is that the cover convey the essence of the book – amusing covers for amusing books, artistic covers for literary books, direct no-nonsense covers for factual books, etc. Because I began my professional career as a typographer I am highly sensitive to typefaces. I'll write more about that later but, aside from hiring a good editor, hiring a good cover designer is the best investment you can make.




  4. The ISBN & Bar Code: Anyone can purchase an ISBN number online, usually from Bowker and usually for around $50. The web site is isbn.org and most ISBN providers will include a free bar code. You can register the ISBN under your own name or you can create a name for your publishing business. My advice would be, if you only plan to publish one book then you can use your own name, if you like, but otherwise think of an interesting name for your publishing business. Some local presses use these names: Ten Pound Island Books, Back Shore Press, Silver Perch Press, Dogtown Books, etc.

  5. Printing: Once your book is written, edited, proofed, designed and ready to go to press, you have one of two choices: a.) have your books printed by a printing company and assume all responsibility for distributing and shipping them, or b.) work with a POD printer to have them printed on an as needed basis.
The choice to go either with a conventional printer or with a POD printer is entirely personal. These are the differences:

Conventional Printer
Most printing companies can print a book for you. You supply them with the camera-ready art and they will give you a quote based on the number of copies you wish to order. Usually conventional printers will require you print a minimum of 500 or 1000 books for your first run and will offer substantial price breaks for larger runs. Once the book is printed it will be delivered to you (or you will pick it up) and you will then be completely in charge of your book. You will have to store it, set up accounts with online booksellers and bookstores, ship books that you sell, and handle all aspects of distributing your book. 


The advantages of printing with a conventional printer is that the unit cost will be substantially lower than with a POD printer (thus, you per-unit profit will be greater) and you will have total control over distribution. The disadvantages are that you have to pay a large up-front amount for the number of books you order, you have to warehouse the books yourself, and you have to do all the distribution work.

POD (Print-On-Demand) Printer
POD printers can produce a hundred books or one book at the same per-unit cost which will be higher than the unit cost of a conventionally printed book but which saves you a lot of work. I have worked with both conventional printers and POD printers and, for my own books, I much prefer PODs. The POD printer I have worked with for all five of my printed books charges a $75 setup fee, and an annual fee (I think it is around $12 per title) to keep my books listed in their catalog. Beyond that all I pay is the unit cost + shipping when I order books to sell on my own. For books sold over the internet or ordered by bookstores, the printer does all the fulfillment at the unit-cost rate. When they receive my title I am required to submit a detailed description of the book along with PDF files for the cover and the interior, all of which I upload online. If my files do not meet their specifications they send me an email telling me what revisions to make (this only applies to book specs, not to content) and I correct the files and re-submit them.

Once my books have been approved they send me a proof and once I approve that they list my book with Books-In-Print and, literally within days, my book magically shows up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells, Buy.com, etc. From that point on it is up to me to promote my book and, as each book is purchased, the printer prints it (one or 20), ships it out and makes note of it in my “Publisher's Compensation” report. They hold each month's payment in reserve for 90 days then directly deposit one month's profits.

The advantages of working with a POD printer are: the upfront cost is very low and they do 90% of the work for distributing, fulfillment, and book-keeping. The disadvantages are the per-unit cost is a bit higher which means either your profit is lower or your book prices are higher.

Independent Publishers and E-Books
The e-book revolution has made e-book publishing simple – maybe too simple judging by some of the dreadful books being published. All I can say is that at this point in the e-book industry “caveat emptor” – buyer beware. If you have a book that you are considering publishing as an e-book go to Smashwords.com and download their style book – it's free. Format your book according to their guidelines and then upload it to their distiller. They have the absolutely coolest technology imaginable for automatically converting your book (provided you format it correctly) to every device on the market from Kindle to Nook to Sony to plain old HTML. You can begin selling immediately and some writers use this as a no-investment way to test out new books. 


The advantage to using Smashwords is it is free, it lets you test out your book before going to press, and it provides you with everything you need to know about specifications. The disadvantages are if your book is badly edited or badly written you run the risk of racking up some bad reviews which don't go away – ever.

Next time I'll talk about things you should know about preparing books for printing....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Okra for Christmas

Growing up in north central Pennsylvania I never heard of okra. The word might have shown up in a book I was reading but that is as close as I ever came to knowing anything about it. Then I moved to Texas and, as part of my indoctrination by new friends, I was introduced to the nasty stuff. I'll give it credit – it's cute – but that's it. What on earth possessed Mother Nature to create something that is fuzzy on the outside and slimy on the inside and call it food?

My first encounter with okra was at a friend's house. It was New Year's Day and I was invited over for black-eyed peas, cornbread and okra. I was informed that was the way to start a new year guaranteed to bring health and happiness. The cornbread was delicious, the black-eyed peas were pretty good, but the okra? Gag. I went home and fixed some sauerkraut -- that makes sense.

Some time later my boyfriend at the time, a 6'5” Australian photographer who had lived in Houston much too long, took me to his favorite eating establishment, a place called the Magnolia Cafe many miles out of town where they served ginormous chicken-fried steaks guaranteed to make you feel the need to walk back to Houston. Chicken-fried steaks are a diabolical invention anyway. Who but a Texan would decide to:
  • Take an enormous slab of well-marbled beef
  • Dip it in a mixture a thick, carbohydrate-loaded batter
  • Deep fry it in sizzling hot fat
  • Serve it drooping over the sides of a platter covered in an inch and a half of cream gravy
Along with the chicken fried steak (on separate plates because the dinner plate was invisible under the monstrous, cream-gravy slathered steak) came four soup bowls filled with: mashed potatoes, whipped with tons of butter and milk; coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise and sugar; pickled watermelon rind which was actually wonderful despite being like candy; and okra that had been dipped in more batter and deep fried. Oh, and hush puppies, don't forget the hush puppies, balls of golden, crunchy cornmeal fried in more fat and rolled in sugar. All washed down with a couple Shiners.

We went there several times and I always remember coming home with buckets full of leftovers – except the okra. I lost that as quickly as possible. It looked lovely – crunchy and golden in such a cute little shape. But then you bit into it and got a mouthful of okra snot. Blyech.

Later, another boyfriend, a Texas Aggie who worked his way through school in south Texas oilfields, took me to a restaurant that was popular with the roughnecks he worked with. It was a wonderful place out in the middle of nowhere that had once been an schoolhouse. Inside were long wooden tables with benches where everyone sat together. There was a long buffet table groaning under the weight of food and two cast iron stoves on which sat washtubs full of food. You paid $5 at the door and ate until you couldn't move. Most of the patrons were oilfield workers and, in fairness, they looked like eating enormous amounts of food was necessary for their work – most of them were lean, muscular, and tough looking.

But my boyfriend loaded my plate when he decided I wasn't going to take my money's worth on my own and he topped the godawful mess with heaping scoops of okra. Yuck.

Well, I left Texas and, though I knew I would miss many things, I knew okra wasn't among them. This year for Christmas, one of my friends who is a fabulous cook, gave me her usual basket of homemade goodies. There was an indescribably wonderful, whiskey-infused fruitcake among other things... and a little package of these hard green thingies that looked like – oh, horrors – okra!

“Is this a joke?” I asked.

“I know you think you hate okra,” she said, “but try one.”

So I did. It was light, crispy, crunchy and – amazing! – no snot.

“What is this?” I asked.

“It's an okra chip,” she said. “I got it from your favorite store, Nuts Online. Aren't they delicious?”

Grudgingly, I had to admit they were. So, keeping to my plan to eat vegetables with every meal and to replace meat with whole grains, beans and nuts for most meals, I decided to add them to my most recent order. I got quinoa and red rice, steel cut oats, cashews, goji berries and chia seeds and... okra chips. They arrived yesterday and I had some last night for a snack. They were actually delicious – without the snot.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Part 2 - What is “Self” Publishing? Subsidy Publishing vs. Independent Publishing

For many people the words “self-published” bear a stigma and the suggestion that self-publishing is the only option the author had to get a book in to print. This is not true. Some authors who have self-published are Mark Twain, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Deepak Chopra, Virginia Woolf, and Margaret Atwood. Among the most famous of self-published books are Huckleberry Finn, the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and that most ubiquitous cookbook, The Joy of Cooking. Authors self publish for a variety of reasons.

Today publishing has been complicated by the addition of e-publishing. In this post I'm going to discuss the different types of print publishing, and include information on how e-books are handled by each. Since we already talked about traditional publishing I won't delve much further in to that but bear these things in mind as you decide how much time and effort you wish to spend pursuing a contract with a traditional publisher:
  • A publishing house agrees to handle all aspects of getting a book into press and agrees to pay the author a certain percentage (royalty). Advances can be quite large although the average advance is around $30,000 from the larger publishing houses, less from smaller houses. Don't forget that this amount is deducted from your book's profits. Once a book is on the market the author does not receive any more money until their share of the book's profits exceed the advanced amount. If it does not, the author receives no more money.
  • The publisher decides how long your book will stay in print. Usually, depending on how sales are going, this will be six months to a year. If the book does well it may well be longer but whenever the publisher decides it is no longer worth their while to keep the book in print they will “remainder” it, meaning they will keep selling the book until the remainder of printed books is depleted and then the book will be out of print.
  • When you sign a contract with a traditional publisher it will also specify who owns additional rights and what your percentage from them is. Additional rights may include paperback sales, international sales, audio books, ebooks, movie rights, merchandising, etc. Depending on the terms of the contract, the author may receive a percentage of any profits specified or a flat sum but the rights will be owned by the publisher, not the author.

A few words about rights and pricing for self-published books:

Rights:The good thing about self-publishing is that you will probably retain all rights to your book! You can keep it in print as long as you like, you can contract for ebooks, audio books, movie rights, merchandising, etc. without a publisher being involved. However, if you are lucky enough to attract interest for a movie, television show, or other such production, it is best to consult an intellectual property attorney before signing anything.

Pricing: Major booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are going to want a 55% discount to carry your book. Local bookstores usually want 40%-50%. You deduct the print-per-unit price from the discounted price to figure your profit. Ex. if your book costs $2.50 per unit to produce you need to charge $10 per book in order to make a profit of .90 per book sold. If you increase the price to $12.00 your profit will be $2.90. You should consider how long it will take you to make back your initial investment so that you price your book to make a profit in a reasonable period of time. Your biggest profit will be on the books you sell directly to readers.

SUBSIDY PUBLISHING
Long ago, before the digital age, what we now call subsidy presses were called “vanity presses”, a somewhat pejorative term that implies all books printed through them were done so out of the author's vanity. Today's subsidy presses all operate on a similar principle: the author sends them a manuscript and a check (the size of the check depends on the type of “package” the author chooses) and they layout, design, and print the book. Some popular subsidy presses include Xlibris, iUniverse, Lulu, Outskirts Press, etc. Some of these presses offer (for a fee) proof-reading and some editing (we will discuss the various stages of editing in a later post). Some of them also offer (for a fee) customized design. All of them also offer (for a fee) some marketing assistance including consultations with a marketing coach. The more money you have to spend, the more services you can add.

This is how an subsidy press works:
  • Once you have selected the subsidy press you wish to work with, and the service package you wish to pay for, you upload your manuscript to their server and select a page layout design from those they offer. These will be basically “cookie cutter” layouts. The more premium packages will offer a wider variety of designs but remember that they are going to print your manuscript exactly as you have submitted it – they are not going to correct spelling, punctuation, or anything else unless you have contracted in advance for that.
  • You choose your cover from templates or, if you have contracted for a customized design, you work with one of their designers to create a cover.
  • They supply the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) under their imprint. All books available for sale in book stores and online are required to have an ISBN and a bar code. Because they are using an ISBN registered in their name, they will be listed as the publisher (this will be important a little later on in this post.) Anyone can buy an ISBN but publishers buy them in large blocks all registered to their imprint (name).
  • They print the book and send you the agreed upon number of copies supplied in the package you have chosen.
  • Once the book is available in print, they supply the book information (title, price, ISBN, description, etc.) to the Books-In-Print Directory from which it is then picked up by online suppliers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, etc. Brick and mortar bookstores can order from the Books-In-Print database if they wish to carry them in their stores. They will also list your book with the major distributors, Ingram and Baker & Taylor.
  • Depending on the marketing options in your package you will be supplied with a page for your book on the subsidy press's site, possibly a blog page also, and various marketing tools such as press releases (from a template), and information on submitting your book to book review services which charge a fee (anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars per review).
  • From this point on books are printed as they are ordered (Print On Demand). If you wish to order books you will pay a unit cost per book and all shipping.
  • As books are ordered, either from the press's web store or from any other book seller, the subsidy press will print and supply them and place your percentage, minus their print charge, in your account. At the end of every month you will receive a statement. Usually, payments are delayed for 90 days (to allow for returns), and then a check will be sent monthly thereafter.
Most subsidy presses will offer an option to have your book converted to an ebook which they will supply to major online booksellers as part of their service.

Subsidy presses have advantages and disadvantages: The advantages are that once you turn your book over to them they do all the pre-press and production work and they handle distribution. The disadvantages are that their prices can be very high for what you are receiving and you are required to use their imprint (i.e. their name will be on the book as the publisher). This can be a deterrent to sales if the particular subsidy press is regarded negatively by potential buyers, especially bookstore owners. Some bookstore owners refuse to carry books from iUniverse, Xlibris, and a few other such companies. You have to consider whether this is going to be an issue for you.

Subsidy presses can be an excellent resource for books with a limited audience: family histories, books of regional interest only, family cookbooks and memoirs, etc. Depending on how much money you have to spend and how much or how little involvement you want in the process of publishing a subsidy press can be your best choice.

Next time: What is INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING and how is it different from subsidy publishing?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Pooling-On-Purpose Project now on Kindle!

Slowly I am working my way through the enormous backlog of knitwear designs I have created getting them charted, photographed and ready to publish. Most of my lace designs are not geared for beginners but this Pooling-On-Purpose set is ideal for someone who knows the basic stitches but isn't quite ready to advance to complex patterns and shaping, but still wants a challenge. The Pooling-On-Purpose Project began with a bag of utterly gorgeous hand-dyed cotton chenille from Yarntopia Treasures. The pieces are knit in straight strips wide enough to force the colors to "pool" and the instructions show you how to figure that.

This pattern was first published in PDF and has sold well on Ravelry and Knit Your Tail Off but now it is also available for Kindle. My intention is to release several of my design projects to Kindle and then, eventually, create entire books of the collections with additional patterns added.

Because there is so much gorgeous, stunning hand-dyed yarn available these days, adventurous knitters can have endless fun experimenting with the techniques taught in this booklet. I guarantee once you make one Pooling-On-Purpose Project you'll want to make more. When the technique is mastered you can make endless variations. Have fun!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stairway to Seven!

Pittsburgh's goin to the Super Bowl -- for the SEVENTH time!

#1 Top Rated Lace Knitting Book for Kindle!!!!!

Unbelievable! I'm starting work on my next book of lace knitting patterns which I am calling "Knit Your Tail Off 1" and I went on the Kindle site to download their formatting specs and look what I found:

Is that exciting or what? I'm just so thrilled I can hardly stand it. I knew the book was selling pretty well on Kindle -- I'm so amazed that people love their Kindles as much as they do -- but I never expected this. What a thrill! Thanks to everyone who rated it -- I didn't even ask!

The new knitting book will be available for Kindle first and then, eventually, in print. It is mostly accessories: scarves, gloves, headbands, bags, and totes. But I am including my very, very popular Pooling-On-Purpose Project and my Slinky Silver Shrug.

Well, this certainly provides encouragement!!! Thank you everyone!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How To Publish Your Book (or Not)

I'm starting a new project. As you can see from the top of my blog I have added tabs and one of them is going to be about what I have learned over the past seven or eight years about book publishing. Currently I have five books in paperback and six ebooks. In 2010 I sold a little over a thousand books in a combination of paperback and eformat. 

I've also helped quite a few people get their books into print and I've learned a lot about publishing in the process. So I am writing this for other authors who wish to publish. What I write here is purely from my own experience and each Part will appear on my blog but then be moved to the "How To Publish Your Book (or Not)" page. So let me begin with a few words about conventional publishing:

Part 1 – Conventional Publishing & How It Works
The ideal for most aspiring authors is to sell their manuscript to a big publisher, get a hefty advance, and have their book edited, designed, printed and distributed. Once the book is in print authors dream of book signing tours set up and paid for by their publisher where they are wined and dined, meet their fans, sell and sign lots of books, and the money starts rolling in. The ultimate ideal is for the book to be optioned by Hollywood, a movie made with top name stars, and merchandising rights for everything from t-shirts to video games. This is a nice dream and it does happen for some lucky people but they are very much in the minority.

The truth is a publisher has to consider a lot of factors before even considering to publish a book, the top ones being a.) how much will they have to invest to produce it, and b.) how much market appeal does it have. Producing a book is very, very costly. The process of editing, working with the author through rewrites, designing, printing, distributing and promoting is expensive and publishers have to make sure their investment will yield a profit to justify their expenses. One of the things they need to consider is how marketable the author is, as well as the book. Like it or not, we live in a personality-driven society. New authors are tough to promote and an author who has a certain measure of “star” power has an advantage. Sad to say, but a lot of readers are more interested in the authors than in their books.

The conventional route to getting your book in front of a publisher is to find an agent who a.) thinks your book has potential, and b.) has the necessary contacts within the industry. In my career as a writer I have been through three agents, all of whom LOVED my book and none of whom were able to sell it. This is to be expected but the problem was that in each case I signed a contract with the agent which gave them a year within which to sell the book. So, during that year I had no control over the book. This meant I waited three years to find out my book was not going to be published. All three of the agents said the book was excellent but the reasons they gave for it failing to sell were more complex. The most common one was that, at 130,000 words, it was too long. The second most common was that, though it would be marketed as a “historical romance”, the period (the early 1960s) and the location (a seaport town on the Great Lakes) were not attractive to a wide audience.

I fully understand the need of a book to be able to support a lot of people. Every book that gets published has to provide revenue for 1.) the bookstore owners (usually 55% of the cover price), 2.) the publisher, 3.) the agent, 4.) the publicists, 5.) the editors and designers, 6.) the distributors, and 7.) the author. On average the author makes 75 cents on every paperback sold. 


Also, remember, that if you get lucky and the book is bought by a publisher they will then own it. They have the right to ask that it be changed according to their wishes, to delay publication depending on their publication schedule, and to not publish it, if they decide it no longer meets their promotional abilities/desires. 


So, the advantages of publishing with a big publisher are: you will get an advance up front (which will be deducted from your profits); someone else will handle the process of getting it in to print; and someone will be there to help with the marketing. The disadvantages are: it is a very, very long process with no guarantees; your return per unit could be very low; and, depending on the terms of your contract, you could not have much in the way of rights for your book -- including the sale to media and merchandising.


Next I'll write about the process of getting in to print...... continued...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Veggies & Spice II: Chana Masala with Tomatoes & Peppers

For those of us who are perpetually dealing with arthritis adding "hot" spices to our diet can be beneficial. Spices such as turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and coriander have long been recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties. For those of us trying to change our diet by adding more vegetables and cutting back on red meat, curries can be a delicious, nourishing, and healthy addition. They are also very warm in the tummy on cold winter nights. Last night I made Chana Masala for the first time and it was wonderful for all three purposes: lots of spice, lots of veggies, warm in the tummy and delicious.


Chana Masala requires a mixture of a LOT of spices but, fortunately, I had purchased a 1 oz. bag of Chana Masal from one of my favorite online stores, My Spice Sage. Their Chana Masal contains Coriander, Dry Mango, Pomegranate Seeds, Chili, Cumin, Musk Melon, Salt, Black Pepper, Black Salt, Fenugreek Leaves, Cloves, Mint, Nutmeg, Dry Ginger, Cinnamon, Bay Leaf, Cardamom Ammomum Seeds, Caraway and Mace.  Because of the Mango, Pomegranate and Musk Melon it has a delightfully fruity aftertaste and that little hint of mint adds a clean, fresh quality that is very nice. I used Chana Dal from my other favorite online store, NutsOnline. If you don't know about Nuts Online you are in for a treat. Everything I've gotten from them has been incredible -- their grains, beans, and dried veggies are just wonderful and their prices are so great the shipping charge seems negligible. So far everything I have ordered has arrived the very next day.


The other item that went in to my Chana Masala was some of My Spice Sage's Dried Vegetable Mix. This is a wonderful mixture of Red Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper, Carrots, Onions and Celery that makes a superb beginning for many soups and casseroles. I bought the 1 lb. bag and have used 1/2 cup of the mixture in soups three times and there is still a lot left. Great stuff! So, this is how I made my:


Chana Masala with Tomatoes & Peppers


In a tablespoon of butter saute one medium onion chopped fine until just tender. Stir in one tablespoon of Chana Masala Spice Mix and 1/2 cup Chana Dal (split Chick Peas), you could substitute a can of Chick Peas that have been well-drained to reduce cooking time.


Stir the mixture until the spice is melted and the beans are well coated. Transfer to a crockpot and add 2 cups Chicken Broth. Add 1/2 cup Dried Vegetable Mix or 1 cup of a mixture of finely diced Red & Green Peppers, Carrots, Onions & Celery. Cover and let simmer on High for 3 hours (2 if you used canned Chick Peas).


Add 1 10 oz. can diced Tomatoes with Green Chilis and 1 cup finely chopped fresh Spinach (or frozen). Cover and let cook on High for another hour.


Mixture should be thick and fragrant.You can eat it over Rice or with a flat bread or just out of a bowl. Delicious with an added dollop of yogurt into which a little bit of mint has been stirred.


That should warm you up.


Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Great Review for "love, murder, etc."

I'm always so happy when someone takes the time to write a review for one of my books. This is for love, murder, etc. which is only available as an ebook. I may expand on it and also publish it in paperback but ebooks are doing so well it almost seems unnecessary. Anyway, thank you for this excellent, thoughtful review:



5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific CollectionJanuary 20, 2011
By 
Clare Higgins "higgeroo" (Gloucester, MA)
This review is from: love, murder, etc. (Kindle Edition)
Kathleen Valentine's stories are like scrimshaw pieces, encompassing a wealth of detail within a small space. We learn everything about her characters in tales whose compact composition never diminishes their vividness, depth and sensitivity. 

From the first few lines of "Sailor's Valentine," the reader is drawn into an intriguing and moving story of two loners, one with a dark secret, and into the world of the fishermen of Port St. Magnus, with all its strong smells, sights and sounds. "The Mermaid Shawl" weaves romance with the realities and hopes of Great Lakes island life, reminding us that knitting is not just a hobby or a job, but an act of love. 

"Arthur's Story" surprises us with a change of scene, to turn of the century New York, in a quietly wonderful story of a lost boy that brought tears to my eyes. "Mardi Gras Was Over" shows how our own maturity can take us by surprise. Darker surprises are in store in the "Murder" section, where the intimacy of first-person narrative reveals the dangerous tensions brewing in seemingly placid places, a small town diner, a needlework club, a lighthouse. 

Overall, this is a superbly written collection of stories and very much worth having. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers: Here We Go!

My friend Ray tells this joke: How many Pittsburghers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Five – one to screw it in and four to talk about how great the Steelers were in the Seventies. That always makes me laugh because a.) it's true and b.) they were. But this current team is pretty impressive, too. I watched the game on Saturday and, up until that last quarter I had my doubt, but then – WHAM! That's just great fun to watch. I found the video below on You Tube, four quarters in ten minutes. I love it.
Because I am hard at work on novel #3 in which one of the main characters is a former football player who once played for the Steelers I have been reading a lot of football related books and also watching a lot of football videos on YouTube – I don't know how writers wrote before YouTube. It's so inspiring to look at some of the greatest plays by some of the greatest players in the history of the NFL. Of course, because I went to Penn State back when Franco Harris and Jack Ham were also there I have a particular affection for those guys. Lydell Mitchell was playing then, too and he certainly was impressive as well.

In the story I am working on there is a scene toward the end of the book where we get to see what an incredible athlete this character, now in his 40s, was. He commits an act of heroism that anyone of less spectacular prowess would never attempt. The idea for it actually came some months back while watching a Steelers game in which Troy Polamalu made one of his amazing oh-my-god-he-can-fly interceptions. Once the idea began percolating in my brain I started trolling YouTube for videos of other plays of comparable beauty and I always seemed to wind up looking at Steelers videos – Joe Greene, how fabulous was he? And Franco Harris' “immaculate reception” but then I found the video that gave me what I wanted, it was a compilation of Mel Blount's best plays and I watched it over and over and over until I knew exactly how my character was going to do what he does.
The other day I had a guy “friend” me on Facebook because, as he said, “anyone who lists Mel Blount as one of their favorite athlete's is okay with me.” I loved that. I am in the middle of his book, The Cross Burns Brightly right now and I'll write more about that when I finish it.

So, anyway, this weekend the Steelers play the Jets and – well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The truth is I don't really understand football – even after reading Joe Theismann's book about it –but I love to watch always hoping for that one breathtaking moment when you can say, “WOW! Wow, wow, wow.” The Steelers have given me a lot of Wow moments over the years and regardless of what happens this weekend I'll keep on loving them. Here we go!
Thanks for reading.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Picked-on Palin's Pouting

There's an old saying, “Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.” Oh, if only Poor Picked-on Palin would heed those words! Last night she was on Sean Hannity's show whining and complaining some MORE about how she is being picked-on by the evil, nasty, monstrous Left who want to shut her up because... well, because is kind of unclear because most of us would miss her rich source of comedy if she did actually shut up.

Sarah Palin just doesn't get it. When she issued her highly -scripted, professionally-produced video on Saturday in which she whined endlessly about how abused she has been – just hours before the President's elegant and eloquent speech on the tragic events in Arizone – she came off as a sulking, pouting whiner. What Palin just can't seem to get is that the vitriol has to stop. That's all. She can still Tweet, and post stuff on Facebook, and keep her six-figure speaking events, etc. just tone it down, Sarah, that's all we're asking.

She continued to point fingers like a grade-schooler, “They're worse, they're meaner, they do it too.” They started it, Mom! Sarah, honey, give it a rest! Yes, there has been vitriol on both sides. I haven't seen the extremist blogs on either side because, frankly, extremists are boring. Whenever I read that kind of stuff I wonder how they could type with their heads spinning around like that. Do they have little canopies over their keyboards to prevent the venom from dripping on them? But when it comes to the on-air pundits it is a different story. I admit I'm more inclined to watch Olbermann-Maddow-Schultz than I am to watch O'Reilly-Beck-Hannity. Actually, I do watch Hannity sometimes because, though I disagree with his politics, I do like some of the stuff he has on. I thought his Beyond Belief series was pretty fascinating and it caused me to buy a few more books written by people he interviewed.

But the point is, I have with my own eyes and ears observed O'Reilly-Beck spread absolute untruths, demonize, and use openly violent rhetoric toward those they disagree with. Olbermann-Schultz get mad, get fired up, and certainly call people out in no uncertain terms, but I've rarely seen them use violent imagery (neither of them has ever done a skit in which they pretended to kill someone like Beck has). I've been watching the Palin-apologists issue their false equivalency over the last week or so and it has been quite fascinating. So far they have managed to come up with three examples of “violent” rhetoric from the mainstream left (I'm disregarding bloggers and regional pundits on both sides). In 2008 then-Senator Obama made a comment about “if they bring a knife we'll bring a gun” which he later apologized for. Senator Alan Grayson said that the Republican healthcare plan is “die quickly”. That one is a mystery to me. He did use the word “die” but how anyone but the desperate could call that a threat is beyond me. And there have been a few assorted cracks from Ed Schultz whose passionate rhetoric does get fired up at times, he admits that.

Compare that to the endless stream of lies from Beck, Palin's non-stop ranting about the entirely fabricated “death panels”, O'Reilly's hundreds of references to “Tiller the Baby Killer” (prior to someone actually killing Doctor Tiller), etc. and it's pretty difficult to see both sides as being equal when it comes ratcheting up the violence. BUT... and this is a big but --- what is wrong with asking everyone, I mean EVERYONE, to calm-the-hell-down? Just knock off the talk about “second amendment solutions”, and being “armed and dangerous”, and “don't retreat, reload”, etc. etc. etc? If you can't make your point through intelligent, fact-based rhetoric then maybe you should consider you don't have a point worth making.

So, Sarah, quit whining and wise up. I realize you think facts have a liberal bias and are debatable but, if you really have the solutions to society's problems, please share them in an intelligent, fact-based manner. Stop it with the hyperbole and the inflammatory rhetoric and the finger-pointing. For God's sake, woman, get a grip! Now is the time for patriots to elevate the discourse – use intellect, reason, and wisdom not lies, buzz-words, and talking points. Show the country how mature, intelligent, and dignified you can be. Are you up to the challenge?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Maureen Gill: Please Share on MLK Day

Our friend Maureen Gill asked that this be shared on MLK Day. Maureen has a new blog at Windy City Author.


Martin Luther King demanded justice not just for his own race, but for all people of every race, color, nationality and creed.  His call for justice was centered in a moral code that transcended the vagaries of mere human law. Well and rightly remembered for his profound influence on the civil rights movement in America, he is not equally remembered for his opposition to the Vietnam War. The historical memory of his impassioned pleas to end the Vietnam War and walk more kindly among all the world's peoples has become increasingly more suppressed by a deranged national culture attempting to justify its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under the murkey and muddled guise of national security and an alleged right to "nation build" -- a clearly pseudo-right that has not been carved out of any valid legal coda or moral hierarchy of values.

On this, the legal holiday celebrating Dr. King’s life, I’d like to share one of his more famous speeches against that war.  As you read this, please note also the literary brilliance of his writing. He may well have been the most gifted orator and speechwriter in American history. His understanding of the true history of the war was dead-on. Most breathtaking, however, is the sheer power of his moral reasoning.

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

“I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.
The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.
Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land?

Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.
In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:
  1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
  2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
  3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
  4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
  5. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.
Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just."

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.
We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:
Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.”

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