by Bradley Wind
In 1996 I was arrested at a nuclear power plant in Limerick, Pennsylvania. It was on July 4th (aka America's Independence Day) and was not related to a protest nor celebration. I was, however, dressed as Jesus. There once was a radioactive carpenter from Nantucket...
A similar hallmark date in my creative career would be when I joined Authonomy.com.
April 1st 2009
Until that date I'd spent nearly ten years writing and sharing my novels with only agents and editors who requested more after receiving my query letter. I'm not entirely sure what it was that pushed me to break that solitude but I was foolish enough to think signing up for Authonomy would be of trifling significance (side note: plenty of trifling to be found on the site should you desire to partake.)
What is Authonomy.com? From the FAQ section of the website:
authonomy is a unique online community that connects readers, writers and publishing professionals. It was conceived and built by editors at HarperCollins Publishers. We’re in beta at the moment, so we’re still developing and perfecting the site.
As of January 2009 three Authonomy authors have been offered publishing contracts, proving active membership can get you beyond the typical agent slushpile.
Here's the basics of how to play:
1) Sign up and post your book (if you have one).
2) Read and back other books (backing books = adding them to your virtual bookshelf - 5 books fit on your shelf.)
3) When others back your book, your book climbs the charts. The top 5 "most shelved" books every month receive a gold star designation and a professional critique from HarperCollins.
4) Enter into the forum fray - where a good education about the atmosphere of developing writers can be found (among other things).
And now for a few of the Other Things:
Finding out the site is in Beta is good news. It might mean so much of what stirs up the Authonomites could eventually be improved and possibly dissipate like the Great Tsunami that struck in Spring 09. I joined as many were still seasick from the effects of a user named Klazart, a "gamer" with a large following who invited his friends via Youtube to go to Authonomy and back his book (not necessarily reading it first). Lots of panties and whities became bunched over that act when Klazart's book shot to the top of the charts. It's not fair! Dishonorable! Should be disqualified! Yet HC declared it acceptable and the waters settled. His book received the gold star and review - and I believe he has moved on to greener pastures because I haven't seen him since.
The following should not be taken as glib or trivial in the least: Since joining I've read of two Authonomy members deaths. One, I believe, was a heart attack, and the other a suicide. I was incredibly impressed by the support I witnessed after the news posted in the forums. Some however believed the news of the deaths to be faked having been duped on other sites with falsified accounts by a few desperate individuals trying to drum up interest for their books. With the gold star competition and the egos often encountered in creative communities, any act done to gain attention wouldn't surprise me. There are plenty of games (some call them marketing plans) to get your work noticed on Authonomy but I'm happy to report most activity surrounding the deaths was positive. Rest in peace Rocky and Martin.
I would be amiss if I did not add that there have also been announcements of births - my daughter for one. Roselaine Jean Wilhelmina Wind was born on her due date May 29th and one might think having two children under the age of two would severely cut back ones time spent fraternizing with anyone online but luckily I am a multitasking master during my work day and between those short visits and the time spent after the kids are in bed, I squeak in just enough to keep my Authonomy addiction fed. Probably three scattered hours a day - about a third of that is spent reading and the rest in the forums.
Yes, I am now publicly admitting to being an Authonomy addict, but I take heart in knowing that my addiction is quite common among other Authonomites, and unlike say - Tanorexia - an unhealthy dependence on tanning, I have benefited from my addiction. Instead of developing skin cancer, I'm accessing wonderful writing (about 3500 books as of 5/09 and an amazing wide range of genre) many of which should be gracing the shelves of your local bookstores now.
Two have inspired me to seek a publish-on-demand version available through Amazon.com so I could read them in printed form.
One of the first I read on the site was Dorkismo: The Macho of the Dork by Maria Bustillos. It has brilliant insight into character and is the kind of funny any fan of Woody Allen would understand. According to forum gossip, she's got a new one on the way. I can't wait.
Not a polar opposite but certainly of a different colour is the fiction of Paul House. His novel Harbour ("The beginning of the end of the British Empire in the Far East" set during WWII) is one of those deeply moving intimate books of which one is apt to reread chapters immediately after finishing them.
My novel, A Calculated Embellishment, has already broken the top 100 ranks of Authonomy. *Stadium blast of applause erupts* I am proud, and excited, and hoping agents and people-with-influence from the publishing world will soon take notice, and help me publish it (or at least ask me to write articles for their online blogs and offline magazines).
Bradley Wind is an artist/writer living in East Coventry, Pennsylvania USA.
Click here for his page on Authonomy.
Synopsis for A Calculated Embellishment:
Abel Velasco exits foster care to live with his newly found cousin and abusive aunt. His typical teenage struggles are compounded by the fact he is a hidden savant. Searching for a challenge, Abel becomes obsessed with the mysterious architecture of an abandoned mansion and strangely numbered bible, launching his journey from suburban New Jersey to Berkeley, California and beyond.