Archive for November, 2011

Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

Posted by Jessica Jewett 1 Comment »

Today marks the 148th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address given by Abraham Lincoln. The president was invited to the dedication of the new and incomplete Soldiers’ National Cemetery four months after the Battle of Gettysburg. He was really invited as an afterthought for “a few appropriate remarks” as the key speaker was Edward Everett. A master orator, Everett droned on for two hours before the president took the podium for a two minute speech. Afterward, Lincoln felt the speech was a failure, but Everett was impressed, saying it only took Lincoln two minutes to come to the point of what took him two hours.

There were 53,000 casualties in three days at Gettysburg. Picture an entire stadium of people dead or wounded over a 72-hour period. Now I hear they’re saying casualty estimates may be low. That is why the National Cemetery was necessary and why the president came to help dedicate it. That is why we still honor those dead today. They gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The Gettysburg Address is arguably one of the most famous and celebrated speeches in American history. Here you may listen to it as read by Jeff Daniels, who played Joshua L. Chamberlain in the film Gettysburg, and then you may read the text of the speech below it. Really consider it. Does it still apply today?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

–Abraham Lincoln, 19 November, 1863

Read More

Review of The Lennon-Bronte Connection by Jewelle St. James

Review of The Lennon-Bronte Connection by Jewelle St. James
Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

The Lennon-Bronte ConnectionJust as with Jewelle St. James’ first book, All You Need Is Love (read that review here), I finished reading The Lennon-Bronte Connection within a two-day period. This book describes how St. James came to be guided through spiritual intervention toward the astounding probability that Branwell Bronte was later reborn as John Lennon, one of the Beatles. For those not so hip to nineteenth century literature, Branwell Bronte was the brother of Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte. These women published such classic books as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Branwell was an artist and writer as well, although quite a tortured soul and struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, eventually dying at the age of 31 of tuberculosis among affects of his drug and alcohol abuse.

St. James describes the striking parallels between Bronte and Lennon, asserted by many reincarnation researchers to be a probable case as well. She traveled to England for further investigation and, if the reader chooses to assume total honest disclosure, the path that led her to these discoveries is uncanny with other people in tune with the spirit world. Whenever she lost her path or felt uncertain, something would occur to leave little room for doubt and the journey became as much a test of personal faith and fortitude as it was a lesson in the immortality of the soul.

I had been quite dubious of St. James upon first hearing of her to the point of deciding not to contact her despite similar intervention pushing me that way. The street ran both ways, I found out later, and after months of not making efforts toward contact, we finally hooked up and I decided to give her books a shot. Our conversations have shown me that she is quite normal and not prone to sensationalism. Quite the opposite, in fact. There is an underlying sense of feeling a burden of information, as if she was put in charge of sharing these things much against her wishes. Indeed, there is a bit of a burden in being so aware of time, the immortality of the soul, and just how exhausting it is to go through centuries of life lessons. I would have been more dubious had St. James presented herself as overly excited about her discoveries. In general, her lack of interest in the “John Lennon” period of this soul’s journey tells me there is truth in her experiences because a fan making up a story would be more interested in him than his unknown lives. One or two famous lifetimes in centuries does not make a soul – it makes pieces of a soul.

“My wish personally is not to be thought of exclusively as John Lennon,” he said in a channeling session in 1993, “as this is a mere shell. What lies within is the essence of who I am. I fancy myself as a guide at this time, as a need to sharing reincarnation recollection, vital to mankind as a whole now and in the important years to come.”

The Lennon-Bronte Connection reads more like a collection of notes and journal entries translated into third person rather than a clean narrative as with All You Need Is Love. For many readers new to spiritual guidance, the shorter blocks of text will actually make it easier to understand and gain footing in these matters. St. James spares the reader of the fluffy mystical overtones and overly scientific terms that can often make paranormal books too heavy for the average person.

The most interesting side affect for me through these two books was seeing England through her eyes and the eyes of spirits, allowing me a new appreciation for a country that I have so long hated. My time in England in the 1500s was terrible and I don’t think I have been back since because it was so traumatic. Part of me is willing to see it through the eyes of a tourist now. For any author, touching a reader or helping a reader in any way makes the blood, sweat and tears of writing a book worth it. St. James has done her job for me. Both All You Need Is Love and The Lennon-Bronte Connection are highly recommended books, especially if you are new to the principles of reincarnation.

Buy All You Need Is Love on Amazon.


Buy The Lennon-Bronte Connection on Amazon.


Read More

The Reality of Being an Author

The Reality of Being an Author
Posted by Jessica Jewett 2 Comments »

Antique writing desk with red feather quill pen and oil lampWith the revolution of e-readers and self-publishing becoming accessible to everyone, the landscape of the writing profession is constantly being reshaped. The trade has become more author-friendly in recent years, however, a lot of people are going into the business blind and with completely distorted expectations. I’m hoping that I can use some of my experiences to open people’s eyes in order to help them decide to dedicate themselves to the written word for the right reasons. My goal is to address the most common myths about being an author. The truth, after all, shall set you free.

Published a book? Don’t quit your day job.

The biggest myth I’ve heard from aspiring authors is that they want to be able to support themselves with their royalties. Sometimes I laugh before I can stop myself when I hear that because only the very top 3% of all authors out there are able to support themselves solely by publishing books. The real money is in selling the rights to your books to movie production companies, which is, at best, a bloodsport. Don’t count on it.

When you buy a book, do you know where the money goes? The author is the last finger in the pot. If the book was released by a publisher, then the book sales have to first repay the cost of producing the book, followed by the literary agent getting their cut (if there is one), then the government gets their taxes, etc. The author makes anywhere between 5% and 15% of the total cost of the book, and the 15% figure is not that common. Sometimes publishers offer an advance if they really think your book has potential but what most people don’t know is your book has to sell that amount before you can begin making more money. If it doesn’t, then the advance is all you get.

Even NY Times Bestsellers are not getting rich.

This is the most enlightening piece of information I’ve seen in a long time. An author who had a book on the coveted Bestsellers list posted a blog telling the truth about how little money comes to the author. The book in question debuted on the list at number 19 with an initial print run of 88.9k and and an initial ship of 69k. Here is a scan of her first royalty earnings for this book (she posted it on her blog so it’s public information):


To quote her breakdown directly:

To give you a condensed version of what all those figures mean, for the sale period of July through November 30, 2008, my publisher reports sales of 64,925 books, for which my royalties were $40,484.00. I didn’t get credit for all those sales, as 21,140 book credits were held back as a reserve against possible future returns, for which they subtracted $13,512.69 (these are not lost sales; I’m simply not given credit for them until the publisher decides to release them, which takes anywhere from one to three years.)

My net earnings on this statement was $27,721.31, which was deducted from my advance. My actual earnings from this statement was $0.

My advance for Twilight Fall was $50,000.00, a third of which I did not get paid until the book physically hit the shelf — this is now a common practice by publishers, to withhold a portion of the advance until date of publication. Of that $50K, my agent received $7,500.00 as her 15% (which she earns, believe me) the goverment received roughly $15,000.00, and $1594.27 went to cover my expenses (office supplies, blog giveaways, shipping, promotion, etc.) After expenses and everyone else was paid, I netted about $26K of my $50K advance for this book, which is believe it or not very good — most authors are lucky if they can make 10% profit on any book. This should also shut up everyone who says all bestselling authors make millions — most of us don’t.*

And that, my aspiring authors, is how a Bestseller makes $0 on her first royalties statement even though her book was a top 20. I posted this information simply because I don’t want to see aspiring authors hinging their success on being on that coveted list. Yes, it is prestigious, but $26k for years of work is not going to support you and your family. Therefore, keep working your day job.

As a self-published author, for example, I make $4.00 per book sold on Amazon. That particular book retails for $22.84, which ends up as me receiving 17.5% of the retail cost, if I’ve done my math right. That is much higher of a cut than author going through a traditional publishing house. In order to make $100.00, I have to sell 25 books, which grosses $571.00. So basically, in order to make $100.00, I have to move $571.00 worth of merchandise. That’s not as easy as it sounds because there are thousands of published authors each year competing for roughly 20% of the American population who are regular readers. Being an author and trying to make any money is basically a bloodsport and you will be lucky to break even on your investment. Indeed, publishing a book is a risky investment because you are sinking money into editors, cover designers, marketing packages, and so forth. Selling the product is the only way to recoup the investment.

I’m going to publish my book on my own!

Good luck with that. While many authors who have previously been published by bigger houses are now moving toward publishing themselves, it is very hard work. Self-publishing means not only will you write the book but you’ll edit it, design the cover, format the manuscript for the printers and/or e-readers, calculate the retail price, marketing, advertising, physically getting the book into bookstores, etc. It’s enough to make your head spin and because self-publishing is not quite “legitimate” yet, bookstores are not so willing to shelve self-published books. Be prepared to meet with resistance, especially if you are a completely unknown author. Come prepared with a professional media package about your book. More important than that, make sure that your book is the best piece of written material that you can produce and make sure the manuscript is perfectly formatted. If you’re going to swim with the sharks, they better not smell fear on you.

A plus side to self-publishing is that you are going to get a slightly bigger piece of the profit pie because you’re not paying an agent or a publishing house. You will, however, not see a profit for a while if you’re paying editors, cover designers, promotional materials, etc. I have published three books and I’m still trying to get my marketing footing.

Do your research because there are a lot of print on demand places. Some are good. Some are scams. The biggest scam out there that I know of is Publish America. Run away screaming from them. I started on Lulu, which was always good for me, but I will be changing companies with my next book. It seems that Amazon is sort of forcing authors to publish on their company, CreateSpace, because Amazon is tacking on an extra long shipping period (6 weeks?!) for other print on demand companies. I refuse to make my readers wait that long for a book, so Amazon has basically forced my hand. CreateSpace is your best bet as well. They don’t charge so much for books and the quality of their books have vastly improved since the company was launched.

Don’t expect family support.

This is something that doesn’t happen to every author but it happens to enough of us, yet nobody really talks about it. It’s like the dirty little secret of the author world. Most people in your inner circle, including friends and family, are probably not going to read your books. Again, it doesn’t apply to everyone, but I have noticed a pattern of the people closest to the author thinking it’s great that they published a book but actually taking the time to read it? Meh. In my case, I can count people in my inner circle who have read my books on one hand. You will find that people closest to you approach your publication with a sense of entitlement, as if they are owed free books simply for knowing you. The part they don’t understand is that there is no such thing as a free book. The author always pays for it in one way or another. Many of the people who get free books don’t even bother to read them either. So if you think your biggest fans are living under your own roof or your closest friends, think again. They will support you by being proud of you and telling other people that you’re an author but they are not so likely to read a book you wrote. For any writer, we do want the approval of people close to us and it stings that they’re more interested in knowing the author than reading the book, but it’s just the nature of the beast. Accept it and concentrate on the people who do read your body of work.

If not for money or glory, then what?

That’s a question only you can answer. I find that the happiest of authors are not rich or famous. They write because they truly love the craft and they are rewarded by feedback from their readers, whether they have 5 readers or 5 million readers. You really have to love the process of writing and the solitary life of it for months and years on end. The true test of publishing good material is to let it sit for a few months and then read it again. Do you like reading your own books? Then you’ve done something good. Real success as an author means being perfectly happy to be absorbed in your writing, to have the discipline, to know your characters as people if you’re in fiction, and to be joyful and grateful for any book you sell. You have to be willing to put yourself out there by going to bookstores and selling your book as something they want. That means you have to sell yourself, so to speak. It’s not as easy as writing a book, publishing it and being done with it. Writing the book is half the battle. If you are okay with all of those things, you will be fine!


Read More