Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stand with Rachel Ann Nunes and stand against plagarism!

Hello, readers!

Plagarism is a tough thing for an author. I've heard the saying, and I don't know who it's by, that "plagarism is the sincerest form of flattery."

(That might actually be "imitation," now that I think of it.)

Anyway. Well-known authors who find others plagarizing (that is, publishing the same or functionally the same works as their own) have a comparatively easy time of it: they can bring up the proof that their work was created first, have lawyers send cease and desist notices, sue, whatever. They have the money to do this, and the cases are often open-and-shut.

Independent authors, however, are in for harder times.

See, most of us don't have tons of money. Even those who are "relatively" successful, selling books daily, usually can't make it our career - and if we can, then all that money is going to food and sleep and electricity or pens. Not a lot left for lawyer's fees.

Rachel Ann Nunes is an independent author who has run afoul of a plagarist. She has presented sufficient evidence to convince me that her cause is just. The plagarist, Tiffanie Rushton, was a teacher who used her students' names and email accounts in order to publish positive reviews of her stolen work and negative reviews of Nunes' in an attempt to discredit her. To raise money for the civil lawsuit, Nunes has started a GoFundMe campaign. Unfortunately, donations are lagging - it's been four months and she is only about a third of the way to her goal.

I'm supporting Rachel Ann Nunes and all independent authors who want their works protected. Creating art, including books, and then watching someone else steal and profit from it without reservation would be terrible. It would be like pulling out someone's heart.

This is the link to Rachel's GoFundMe campaign. Please stop in, read the evidence for yourself, then give what you can. http://www.gofundme.com/standingagainstplagiarism

Independent authors need you.

Jason P. Crawford

Friday, November 21, 2014

Troll Reviewers--WTF, Guys?

Good evening.

We've all heard the stories of authors reacting badly to reviewers. It happens. Kathleen Hale is a prime example of that occurring, and her actions kicked off the great book blog blackout week and the #haleno campaign.

And I believe that. Reviews are for customers, not authors. They should be, must be, sacrosanct, in a way that free speech must be sacrosanct, to preserve the freedom to express unpopular opinions in a safe forum, to air all viewpoints, to discuss all topics.

...But even free speech has a limit. Most of us agree that hate speech is not protected. Unwarranted attacks against another person are not protected under free speech. And this, also, should apply to book reviews.

Here's what I mean:
Recently, an author named Stephanie C. Fox came under fire for some viewpoints she expressed about human overpopulation and childbirth. Some people took offense at her viewpoint, This happens; anyone involved in discussions online is bound to piss someone off, amirite?

But then, these people decided to gang up and ruin Ms. Fox. They discussed this online, then marched to Amazon and wrote falsified reviews. All one-star, all posted on the same day, not one a verified review of the material.

And I have proof: Here is the screen capture of one of their discussions. If you cross-reference the names, you'll notice that many of the reviews have the same or similar names to the people commenting.

Again, I wouldn't want to interfere in free speech. Even threads like this, where people vent vitriol about things they disagree with, I accept and permit. But this is not only an open forum, but these attacks are masquerading as legitimate customer feedback. Maybe they'd really have hated her book. But to attack someone in this manner is reprehensible and unacceptable, and it makes both real readers and authors wary of one another.

As full disclosure, I have not read Nae-Nee either. It might be terrible. All these reviews might be justified. 

This does not change the basic reality, that reviews are supposed to be honest assessments of work, not vicious attacks against another person.

As far as I know, Ms. Fox has not responded to the trolls. I, however, am taking what action I can: I have sent a message to Amazon requesting that the offensive reviews be removed. I am pasting a copy of my letter to them below.


Please provide the following information to help us answer your question:
1. What is the name of the Kindle book or reading material that you are having trouble with? Nae-Nee - Birth Control: Infallible, with Nanites and Convenience for All.

2. Which device are you using to access the content (e.g. Kindle Paperwhite, PC, iPad, etc.)? Not relevant

3. Please describe the problem, including any error message that you see, and any troubleshooting steps that you have already tried.

This book has been the subject of fraudulent reviews. As the result of something the author posted in an unrelated forum, several people chose to attack her, submitting one- and two-star reviews over the course of a single day (the evening of the 20th and through the 21st). I believe that these reviews should be taken down, as they do not represent true customer opinions, but are represented as such.

I have evidence that these reviews are the result of a "plan" to ruin Ms. Fox, which I can submit upon request (this email does not allow me to attach or paste it): a facebook post wherein many of the reviewers discuss their actions and laugh about the distress this is likely to cause Ms. Fox. 

I know that reviews are an important customer resource. Therefore, you should remove these reviews in order to preserve the integrity and validity of this resource.

Thank you.

If you have comments, I would love to hear them. Please don't think I'm attacking readers, or the freedom to review and express opinions. If you DNF a book, review it. If you think that the author uses the word "gosh-darn" too much and every character sounds like an idiot, say so. If the work makes you feel uncomfortable because it seems overtly racist, let us know. But don't bring anger from another venue and use it to destroy someone's life's work.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Writing your best work

In his amazing memoir On Writing, Stephen King talks extensively about his body of work. In particular, he mentions The Stand, his massive post-apocalyptic epic story. It's widely considered to be the best thing he's ever written.

And this frustrates him to no end, apparently.

See, he's glad that people like it, of course, but he wrote it over 25 years ago. He doesn't like the implication that his best work is behind him.

I've just released my third novel. Several of my readers have said that it's the best thing I've written so far, the best mechanically and stylistically. This makes sense - as far as writers go, I'm still a novice. I haven't even finished my first million words, after all :) Mr. King is one of the most prolific writers of genre fiction in the world, wildly successful by any measure of the word. It's not surprising that some people think that some of his earlier stuff is better than his latest.

What intrigues me is his reaction to it. Not that he was mean or rude, but that he continues writing even when that opinion is expressed, widely. He keeps going, trying to create something better and better, writing what makes him happy. That's what makes a true writer - he doesn't need to do it for money, anymore, so he does it for happiness.

To all the writers out there who do it because they can't do anything else, thank you. You endure the slings and arrows of those who feel entitled to exactly what they want because you love the work. You endure self doubt and worry because you love the work.

And, because you love the work, we do too.

So thank you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Writing Contest - What is it good for?

Writing contests.

As I began my independent writing career, I found several (as in, dozens if not a hundred) of writing contests that wanted my work. Most of them asked for money, but the chance for exposure and prestige loomed large if I could just muster the funds.

Which contests should I enter?
Which ones would give me the most cachet?

I did my best to do due diligence. I found out about "vanity" awards, or "award mills." I knew enough to avoid the actual scams, or contests that didn't do what they promised, but which ones were worth my money?

I couldn't tell. There were conflicting reports. What qualifies an award as "vanity?" Some sources said that anything that cost money should be avoided--but I couldn't find many awards that didn't. Some said that, if they had more than three or five categories, they were vanity...but there are tons of books out there, in many different genres. Is that really the case?

I entered a few, won a silver medal in one, got valuable feedback from another. I would happily recommend the Wishing Shelf awards to any author, as they are inexpensive (under $50) and provide feedback from at least 15 readers. It took me a while to receive that feedback, but it was cross-posted to Amazon.co.uk and to Goodreads, which is a wonderful bonus.

Authors, I ask: Have you entered/won any writing competitions? How did you market your victory? Was it worth the time and/or money?

Readers, I ask: Does an author being "award-winning" mean anything to you? If you see that on a book cover, does it draw you in? What connotations does that phrase have for you?

Thank you in advance. I appreciate the feedback.

Jason P. Crawford

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Free? Or not?

Hello, faithful readers!

So many authors offer something on "perma-free" status; basically, they give away part of their portfolio in hopes of attracting readers. Then, the theory goes, the readers are more likely to, having seen your writing prowess, head over to your other, non-free works.

Others criticize this idea, claiming that it provides a glut of material for free and makes it harder to convince anyone to pay for good work. Why would readers pay for what they can get for free? Also, many people (you know who you are!) pick up anything they see for free, whether or not they actually intend to read it, resulting in inflated figures compared to actual readership growth.

I'm on the fence about it. I know I wouldn't put a novel on perma-free, but short stories are a possibility. I'd like to hear what others think: does an author having work for free make you more inclined to check them out? If the free work was high-quality and enjoyable, does it make you more likely to purchase their other books (for reasonable prices, of course)?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tricking your way to a bestseller...and ruining it for everyone else.

Here's something else I heard about on Goodreads: Apparently, some authors have taken to shanghai-ing their way to the coveted New York Times Bestseller title by having several people as "collaborating authors" on a boxed set--several novels sold as one product. Often, one of these authors will be a traditionally published writer with some exposure.

They price the collection (ebook, of course) on Amazon at 99 cents. Four or five novels for less than a dollar.

Naturally, lots of people jump on such a good deal. This results in a huge surge of sales, propelling these folks into the Top 100 ebook list on the New York Times Bestsellers.

And, forever after, these authors can call themselves NYT Bestselling Authors.


That list is supposed to mean something. It's a big deal--or it was--to end up on the NYT Bestselling list. Readers still think it's something to take notice of. If the people doing this are producing poor-quality work (which is likely, if they need to cheat to get noticed), then soon that association, that interpretation, will fade and all the legitimate NYT authors will suffer for it.

What the heck?

Moreover, this ruins the idea of legitimately creating a collection, for fear that you'll be lumped in with the cheaters. I think, personally, that a collection of first novels by a group of authors who respect one another's work and are in a similar genre or style would be awesome. It would need to be priced appropriately, of course, but it would be a great way to get visibility and readership, borrowing from each other, exposing readers who might never have seen the other authors in the collection.

But if I do that, am I a cheater? I have to admit that being a NYT Bestselling author would be a pretty awesome appellation, but I wouldn't be expecting that. Just hoping to help myself and my fellow authors expand our audiences.

Still. Perception weighs heavily. Because I got the idea from cheaters, it makes it feel like it's cheating.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Good morning!

I've been involved in many different discussions on websites and in-person about different writing styles, and the books that I've read recently run the gamut. Here are some things I've noticed, as well as my stance on them. Remember that "writing rules" are not for everyone, but can make a good place for a new writer to start or an experienced one to try a change or a challenge.

1. 1st person vs. 3rd person POV. This is a big one, and it's really divisive amongst authors. Some authors swear by 1st person, claiming that it brings the reader closer to the character, while others claim the exact opposite, that 1st person breaks the verisimilitude of the story. I prefer to read 3rd person, but I have read many good examples of 1st person. I almost exclusively write in 3rd.

2. Past tense vs. present tense. This is even bigger than the last one. Again, many authors (romance is a big place you'll find this, as well as a lot of Young Adult) believe that writing present tense helps bring the reader into the story. Others adamantly disagree. I am one of the disagreers--I don't enjoy present tense in any way, shape, or form, and will shut a book if it's written in present. I just can't immerse myself in a present tense story.

3. Adverbs or not? "Common" writing wisdom is to eliminate adverbs when possible, because they are sometimes considered a sign of weak writing, implying that the writer is unsure of his/her ability to convey an idea without additional words. Others trumpet that English is a poetic, artistic language if one desires to use it that way, and that well-placed adverbs can add to a story. I prefer to not use adverbs without due consideration--my first draft will have some, and each one I see I weigh carefully to decide whether or not I want it to be there.

I'll continue to add to this list in future installments, but I want to hear from you. What do you think about each of these? Do they affect your reading/writing/both/neither?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Your Book as a Movie!

This post came up on a thread on Goodreads, The idea was, if you could have anyone turn your book into a movie, anyone screenwrite it, and anyone star, but you would have no creative input afterwards, who would you use?

Here's my list for my novel The Drifter. 

Director: James Cameron. I loved the visuals he was able to put together for Avatar, and the movie in general. The characters were interesting and worked in epic environments, which is exactly what I would want.

Screenwriter: Aaron Fors. He's an actor and screenwriter I know who has read my book and understands what I'm going for. I have faith he would make a faithful rendition while altering what needs to be altered for screen.

Characters: The main 3 are going to be the actors/models that we got for the book cover. I've met them all and they're amazing people. The other two I haven't met, but they fit my image of the character perfectly.
The Drifter/Oreth: Nathan Vellappally. 
Liara: Tayla Holborow
Edison: Iker Amaya
Eriana: Jenna Duran Tatum
Azrael: Omar Epps
Rob: Meat Loaf 

What about you? If you're a writer, who would you use? If you're a reader, who would you pick for some of the parts of your favorite book? Post your ideas in the comments!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blog Hop May 2014!

Welcome back, faithful readers! I have a lot to report. First off - I have a book launch party scheduled at an actual physical bookstore! That's right, on June 13th, the Barnes and Noble in Palmdale, CA will be hosting the Chains of Prophecy release party! Isn't that awesome?! I'm still in shock.

Second - We sold 76 copies of Chains of Prophecy at the California Poppy Festival in Lancaster. It was so great to meet people and expand my readership. Turns out I love in-person events! I hope that I get to do more in the near future.

Third - I'm working on the sequel to Chains of Prophecy, as well as editing my other three completed novels and writing a short story to submit to the Writers of the Future competition this quarter. If you haven't heard of them, you should stop by their website here and check it out.

Fourth - I have met so many awesome writers and readers over the past month or so! Here you will find a few that you should go look up, check out their books, get to know them...because they are amazing professionals and amazing people.

Ready? Here is my contribution to the Baton Pass Blog Hop! If you aren't familiar with this event, authors answer a few questions and then tag each other so that the tagged authors keep up the chain the next week. I was tagged last week, so here I go. Before I answer my questions, you should meet the author who tagged me.

Roberta Pearce is a romance author and 2013 NaNoWriMo winner. She writes about interesting characters with interesting problems (sociopathy, for one) and is always willing to give constructive advice to authors in need.

You can find Roberta's blog here, her Amazon page here, and her Goodreads profile here

1.What am I working on? As I stated above, I'm working on marketing and editing, as well as the second in the Samuel Buckland Chronicles. I'm looking forward to summer vacation this year (my day job is a high school science teacher), because I'll have so much more time for writing! The second book, Bonds of Fate, will be released sometime at the end of this year. My other previously published work, The Drifter, is scheduled for a cover photo shoot in June, and we're talking to one of the winners of the 2013 Illustrators of the Future contest about cover art for my UF/PNR that I'm also finishing up.

It's an exciting time!

You can also find me every Monday participating in Clever Quickies, an amazing Facebook event wherein the participants write a 140-character passage designed to simulate an excerpt from a larger work...that we haven't written yet. It's tons of fun, and the writers enjoy each others' contributions. You should come by and check it out!

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I suppose that the biggest difference between what I write and a lot of other urban fantasy that I've seen is that the focus of my work is not on the supernatural creatures, but on the people. I try to keep the focus grounded in the characters, whatever powers they may have, and explore the story from their perspective. I very much prefer character-driven stories to plot-driven ones, and I feel that this makes my writing connect with readers.

Why do I write what I write?

Because those are the stories that I have. Seriously, what will happen is that I will come up with an idea and then write about it...and most of the ideas happen to be urban fantasy. I also write sci-fi and have a very interesting idea for a high/dark fantasy novel, but I write UF because it's what I have.

The reason I enjoy UF in general is because I love the idea of magic underneath the world we're all used to. It's easy in today's society to become jaded and bored and think that there aren't any more surprises...and when, suddenly, there are sorcerers who can summon angels and genies...well. You didn't really know everything, did you?

It has all those things. Really.

How does your writing process work?

You may have heard of the division between "plotters" and "pantsers." When I brought this term up in an online forum, an author informed me that he preferred to be called an "organic" writer than a "pantser," and so I have used that term since.

I am an organic writer - I come up with characters and a conflict, and I sit down at my computer and start writing. I don't know how the story will end - hell, I don't know what's going to happen in the next five pages most of the time - and that makes writing one of the most exciting things I've ever done. I am the novel's first reader, and, if I can be excited while I write, you will be excited as you read.

I type most of my work in MS Word, although I do have times where I grab a notebook and a pen and go to town. After I finish a draft, I sit on it for a month before talking about it or looking at it again. I normally work on one draft at a time, although I may be doing edits on other works simultaneously. I research whatever comes up in the story as it comes up so that I can keep my momentum going. 

I don't like to plan. It doesn't work for me.


First is Wren Figueiro, author of the amazing YA paranormal book Atancia. 

 Purchase Atancia!

I read and reviewed this book as part of a Goodreads event, and I was just blown away. It is part of a duology, and the cover for the sequel will be revealed on the 15th! She is also amazingly supportive of the indie author community in general, and always has something helpful to say.

My second tag for this event is Jennifer R. McDonald. She is writing a paranormal series as well, involving sorcerors who can use their magic to walk in the land of spirits. I...I was utterly enraptured by the first in the series, Into the Veil, and when it was over I immediately ran back to Amazon begging for the sequel...which was there!

 Purchase Into the Veil!

Thanks for stopping by! I'm going to try to update the blog more often, now that things are starting to settle down.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ramping things up - writing, marketing, and more!

Hello! Welcome back! So, today I'm going to knock out 2k more words of my Apollo novel (name unknown). I've also, over the last few days, worked on improving my website (will be up soon, I'll let you know!) and built a media kit for publicity purposes. When my professional photos come in, I'll be starting my YouTube channel with Q&A and random discussions about my work, writing, etc. Also, my review blog is doing well - Behind the Curtain of Reality has gotten to look at some really good stuff lately...and some stuff that needs a bit of work. If you have an urban/paranormal novel you want checked out, let me know at jnewmanwriting@gmail.com. More! I'm now working with Epitome Press (www.epitomepress.com) to publish my work. They're a small, indie publisher that focuses on urban fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, and women's issues, as well as some children's work. Check them out when you get to it! Thanks for reading! I hope to be back soon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Giveaway on Goodreads!

Hello! In a further attempt to increase awareness of my writing, I am conducting a hard copy giveaway of the updated Chains of Prophecy on Goodreads! You can find the information here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Chains of Prophecy by Jason Patrick Crawford

Chains of Prophecy

by Jason Patrick Crawford

Giveaway ends March 11, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Hello, ladies and gentlemen!  If you mosey over to www.smashwords.com/books/view/322350 you can find my book, Chains of Prophecy. Input Coupon Code AA79G to get it FREE! Share with your friends and family!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cycles of Destruction in the editing phase!

So my beta readers have been giving me their comments on CoD, and the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.  I look forward to making my edits and polishing up the work.

Also, I'm looking into submitting my works to review periodicals and blogs, so if anyone knows how to do that, let me know!

I'll be posting a new review on my book review blog, Behind the Curtain of Reality, so check that out when it happens.

Be safe and keep reading!