A Meeting In A Cyber Cafe

    Ruut: Interview and Album Review

ruut_1One of four daughters to classical musician parents, Ruut was born in Finland, and wrote her first song when she learned to play the piano at age 7. Ruut grew up living and traveling in Europe, until moving to the States at age 16.

Her various musical influences (including classical, gospel, jazz, Broadway, songwriters such as Carole King, Paul Simon, Elton John, and Tori Amos) shaped her piano-based story-telling approach to her own artistry.

Q: When did you know music is what you wanted to have in your life?

A: It sort of chose me. I started writing songs when I learned to play the piano at age 7, and I never stopped. But I made the decision to pursue it as a career in my early twenties, when I got offered a record deal.

Q: I see. Well it’s no surprise you were offered one. Your newest album, “Glimpse,” is very powerful. Rich and heartfelt, sometimes you can even sense a bit of pain within the lyrics. What was the inspiration behind it, if you don’t mind me asking?

A: Some big life changes prompted me to dig deeper than I ever had as a songwriter. We had just watched my Mother-in-law lose her battle against cancer, and soon after that I gave birth to my second daughter. I had also been away from the music scene for a few years, so Glimpse was the accumulation of every song I hadn’t written in that time.

Q: So you’ve been through a good bit from last album until now. Would you say you’ve embrace the events, good or bad, that happen in life?

A:Yes, for sure, though I feel like I have to keep relearning this lesson. When shit hits the fan, I don’t exactly say, “Awesome! Can’t wait to feel the pain and write another great song!” but it does seem that the good ones come out of the really dark times. I’ve paid a price for my best songs.

Q: So tell me, how was the journey to now for you? How has it shaped your musical style?

A: I’ve gone through many transformations as an artist in that time, from being signed to a Christian label, making a couple pop and dance albums and finally settling into being the songwriter I am today. I have no regrets in trying my hand in different projects. If anything, I got an education in the music industry. But when I have moments of self-doubt, I listen to Glimpse, my new album, from beginning to end. Its rawness, honesty, and simplicity center me every time and always provide the inspiration for me to move forward. This is something I’ve never been able to say about my own music. And that’s so much more than simply finding my own musical style. It feels like a new beginning.

Q: It’s certainly a amazing start to this new beginning. I have to ask, what, in your opinion, sets you apart from the rest?

A: That’s an excellent question I often ponder myself. It’s impossible not to feel intimidated by the sea of musicians out there – every minute someone writes a new song. So, I try to be great and really push myself to make the songs better. I edit my writing, and practice a lot. Also, the life I’ve lived and where I’ve been all makes me the artist I am, with a unique story and point of view. But, most importantly, I strive to be relevant and timeless as a songwriter, meaning, there will always be a need for songs that inspire, challenge, and unite us. I really believe that when we graduate from just sorting out our own lives to inspiring others, we start to stand out as artists. That’s when we begin to make our mark.

Q: That was beautifully true. Nobody ever knows when that it going to happen, but when it does, you just know. Thank you for that. So to wrap things up, what would be your advice to other singer/songwriters trying to make it?

A: Everyone’s journey is so unique, but I’ve found that the songs that I’ve written from the deepest place are always the ones people resonate with the most.

So I guess my advice would be to be honest, don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing, and your originality and emotional depth will set you apart from the rest.

Album review:

ruut glimpse

This is my first album review I have written, but I assure you, regardless of what justice or injustice I do the album through my words, you will not be disappointed with Ruut’s newest ‘Glimpse.’ I am a rookie writing for a seeming veteran in the music industry. Such talent I have to the honor to meet. It’s a funny sort of thing. You take a trip with some friends to the local reservoir and you never know who exactly you’re going to meet. Such is the story when the first time I met Ruut. A beautifully sweet woman who has passion burning in her eyes. We exchanged names, as strangers do, then parted ways. I approached her later down the road to see if she would be interested in doing an interview, for at the time an August issue, of Seven and she agreed. The August issue was passed by. She
continued to keep in touch with me despite the let down. Instead of disappointment, she was enthusiastic at the opinion of me personally writing a review for her, so here I am. My first album review on such a spectacular album. I feel honored.

The album, Glimpse, starts with her song aptly titled ‘Glimpse.’ It carries a richness in the harmonies and a tenderness in the vocals. The song evokes a lucidity within the listener that makes you just want to lean back and close your eyes to recall the memories of the times you almost had something good. It is a song with heart, with pain, with passion. Relatable, powerful, it’s the appropriate opener. This one will hook you and drag you along for the ride. At the same time, this is one of the standouts on the album for its lyrics and its tone that the instrumental portion sets. This song encompasses what the rest of the album is about in its own way.

The album continues its very lyrically heavy trend throughout, but Ruut doesn’t sacrifice her ability as a musician during the album. She makes pleasant exchanges between songs, jumping from the dreamscape of “Glimpse” to the popish “Make It Good” then leading it to a gentle piano accompaniment of “Unbeatable.” Another powerhouse of a song. It doesn’t give you the same emotion as in “Glimpse,” but it shows off Ruut’s maturity as an artist. She admits that there are rough patches, there is pain when growing, but even if things seem too hard, stay the course.

With the beautiful richness that comes with this album, it is hard to deny the fact that a mother of two has created this. Although she has had albums in the past, this is the one to put her one the map. This is a stunning, powerful, tear-jerking tale of her time off from music; of her struggles. It was created for her husband, for her children, for her mother-in-law, for those who are unsure of their futures. The motherly lyrics comfort and show through in the most subtle of ways. Ruut has surpassed, in my opinion, many mainstream female artist who are producing music today with her truthfulness, with her rawness, with her punch-in-the-guts lyrics. She touches base on the human condition, both our flaws and our excellencies, in a way that is seen rarely few and between. If you have yet to listen to ‘Glimpse’ then you are sorely missing out, my friend.

For more information about this artist and her latest album, check out http://www.ruutmusic.com

© Seven Magazine

Is Affirmative Action Crucial to America?

Has America progressed into a diverse nation where certain laws forbidding discrimination are no longer necessary?  With a two- term African American president at the helm of the country, some citizens believe we have overcome our negative past, prejudices, and preconceived notions in regards to our differences.

I don’t dispute facts, as a diverse nation, we have made great strides in bridging the race and equality gap. Many impoverished minorities manage to emerge through cracks of inner city concrete jungles to rise above poverty, deprivation, and less than desirable socioeconomic conditions. Those success stories are few and far in between, accounting for a small percentage of the minority population, who escape an all too familiar cycle of hell to arrive at the promise land of prosperity. What about their brethren? Still, there are large quantities of minorities who are marginalized because of ill social circumstances, partly due to a system of classism and race discrimination which currently exists in this country. To make a claim that we have achieved such heights where racism is obsolete is utterly absurd. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the 60’s, thanks to President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Affirmative Action and the Civil Rights Act were created to balance the playing field, diversify, and repair a broken system in which African Americans were widely discriminated against. Legislation created during this era helped pave the way for minorities to receive fair and equal access to employment, career advancement, voting rights, education and federal programs predominantly restricted to whites despite race, creed, color, gender, or national origin. No doubt their agendas were a step in the right direction, but what happens when right wing conservative organizations target racial equality as an attempt to destroy progress made during the civil rights movement?

reverse-racism

– Photo Credit: www.taboojive.com

Case in point, last week the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Fisher v. University of Texas which challenges the use of affirmative action in admissions. The petitioner Abigail Fisher, a white woman sued the university over their admissions policy. Ms. Fisher, backed by special interest groups and private donors (The Project on Fair Representation) states she’s a victim of said policies, citing reverse discrimination.

It’s true, affirmative action is used in most public and private institutions admissions process as a means of diversifying their student body, but it isn’t the primary provision that determines admittance.The university automatically admits students in the top ten percent of his or her class, then factors in race and other circumstances. Pro Publica published an article which looks at the conditions she faced when she applied to the university and the reason her application was denied. According to their research, Ms. Fisher didn’t possess the potential and academic prowess to meet the university’s standards. And race didn’t play a major part in her denial. Perhaps, had she been ambitious enough to achieve high academic marks, she would’ve been included in the top ten percent of her academic class, having no problems being admitted to the university of her preference.

In a 7-1 decision, the Supreme Court sustained the current affirmative action legislation, but in fairness redirected the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for further review. The lower appellate court was given orders to thoroughly scrutinize the university’s use of race in admissions, assuring they considered all other options before focusing on race. I applaud the high court for practicing sound judgment by standing in support of institutions of higher learning, and their responsible incorporation of affirmative action in the architecture of admissions as a means to create a diverse student body. What this means is previous advancements made in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), a case which permitted the use of race as a tool to variegate college campuses remains unchanged. The court’s ruling ultimately proved that Ms. Fisher’s legal team failed to demonstrate she was victimized by affirmative action in the admissions process.

equality-bill1

-Photo Credit: http://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk

The question remains, when will issues involving race and equality be passé in America? Culturally, intolerance has become a part of the American experience. The depths and effects of bigotry run deep, and without healing, hatred taught by our ancestors becomes transgenerational.  Perhaps, one day, the use of affirmative action policies to keep the scales of equality balanced won’t be needed. But the likely hood of that occurring is slim to none. Until we address the issues that prohibit us from moving forward as a progressive race of people, the fight for justice and equality will continue.

The Pen Bleeds

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

~Albert Camus

Photo Credit:-Photo Credit: www.newsone.com

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born on Sunday, June 17, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas to David and Keziah Brooks, the descendants of field slaves. Both of her parents were native to the sunflower state, but eventually migrated to Chicago’s South  Side, where they raised Gwendolyn and her younger brother Raymond.

Her love for poetry stemmed from both parents, who began encouraging their daughter’s creative and intellectual side by having her read and recite poems, at a young age. David Brooks advised his children to use education as a tool to overcome racism, hardships, and other challenges confronted by blacks growing up in the great depression era. No doubt, her parent’s tutelage was influential, priming Gwendolyn for the literary scene, which became a significant part of her life.

At the age of 16, Brooks reached a milestone where her talents became noticed by established Harlem Renaissance writers such as James Johnson and Langston Hughes. Johnson encouraged her to read modern poets to hone her skills and Hughes praised her talents and pushed her to continue writing.  Acting on Johnson’s advice, she began studying authors such as T.S. Elliot, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, and Ezra Pound who all had some type of influence on her creative process.

Receiving the outside endorsement of two prolific writers, and a few teachers, she felt others were beginning to take her work seriously. Brooks began publishing her poetry in the Chicago Defender, a black newspaper, and by the time she turned 19, the paper had published precisely seventy-five of her poems.

Brook’s went on to develop an effectual emotional style of writing, painting a real and jarring picture of the condition of blacks in America.  This was during a time when the “black experience” was foreign to a majority of her audience, which happened to be middle class whites. Writing under the auspices of writers such as T.S. Elliot, in a questioning tone of modernism, placed Gwendolyn ahead of her time and at unique advantage over other poets in her genre. Her work was black in content but traditionally white in style, addressing the lives of everyday African-Americans, the struggles with racism, poverty, black pride, and the exploitation of women.

In 1950, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Annie Allen, a masterpiece, which chronicles the journey of an African-American girl growing into adulthood. Throughout her career, Brooks was bestowed with several accolades, over seventy honorary degrees, and awards due to the subject matter acknowledged in her writing. She was able to capture the multifarious linguistic dance of rhyme and meter, with a devotion to consciously create original verse that portrayed challenges and triumphs of blacks through many periods. Her poems breathe life into a race of people at a time where being a minority was perceived as unwelcoming and bleak. On December 3, 2000, at the age of 83, Brooks lost her battle with cancer. As time goes on, I’m sure she will be revered as both activist and writer who had the ability to proactively change the world through her magnificent and expressive work.

Below are a compilation of poems that capture Brook’s spirit through many life experiences and ever-changing perspectives on race issues, pride, class, and gender.  Some poems are gritty and straight forward, while others are simplistic in nature, but nevertheless complex and compelling in thought. I also contribute an original piece inspired by Brooks writing. Thank you for reading The Pen Bleeds.

Do Not Be Afraid of No

Do not be afraid of no,
Who has so very far to go”:

New caution to occur
To one whose inner scream set her to cede, for softer lapping and smooth fur!

Whose esoteric need
Was merely to avoid the nettle, to not bleed.

Stupid, like a street
That beats into a dead end and dies there, with nothing left to reprimand or meet.

And like a candle fixed
Against dismay and countershine of mixed

Wild moon and sun. And like
A flying furniture, or bird with lattice wing; or gaunt thing, a-stammer down a nightmare
neon peopled with condor, hawk and shrike.

To say yes is to die
A lot or a little. The dead wear capably their wry

Enameled emblems. They smell.
But that and that they do not altogether yell is all that we know well.

It is brave to be involved,
To be not fearful to be unresolved.

Her new wish was to smile
When answers took no airships, walked a while.

Gwendolyn Brooks

 Ella

Beauty has a coldness
That keeps you very warm.
“If I run out to see the clouds,
That will be no harm!”

So Ella left her oatmeal
And fleecy coat behind
And ran into the winter
Where there were clouds to find.

Mother-dear went following,
But reprimand was mild.
She knew that clouds taste better than
Oats to a little child.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

John, Who Is Poor

Oh, little children, be good to John!
Who lives so lone and alone.
Whose Mama must hurry to toil all day.
Whose Papa is dead and done.

Give him a berry, boys, when you may.
And, girls, some mint when you can.
And do not ask when his hunger will end,
Nor yet when it began.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

Infirm

Everbody here
Is infirm.
Everybody here is infirm.
Oh. Mend me. Mend me. Lord.

Today I
Say to them
Say to them
Say to them, Lord:
Look! I am beautiful, beautiful with
My wing that is wounded
My eye that is bonded
Or my ear not funded
Or my walk all a-wobble.
I’m enough to be beautiful.

You are
beautiful too.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

To Those Of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals 

Sisters!
I love you.
Because you love you.
Because you are erect.
Because you are also bent.
In season, stern, kind.
Crisp, soft -in season.
And you withhold.
And you extend.
And you Step out.
And you go back.
And you extend again.
Your eyes, loud-soft, with crying and
with smiles,
are older than a million years.
And they are young.
You reach, in season.
You subside, in season.
And ALL
below the rich rough right time of your hair.

You
You have not bought Blondine.
You have not hailed the hot-comb recently.
You never worshiped Marilyn Monroe.
You say: Farrah’s hair is hers.
You have not wanted to be white.
Nor have you testified to adoration of that
State with advertisement of imitation.
(never successful because the hot-comb is laughing too.)
But oh, the rough dark Other, Music!
the Real,
the Right.
The natural Respect of Self and Seal!
Sisters!
Your hair is Celebration in the world!

-Gwendolyn Brooks

to the Diaspora

you did not know you were Afrika

When you set out for Afrika
you did not know you were going.
Because
you did not know you were Afrika.
You did not know the Black continent
that had to be reached
was you.

I could not have told you then that some sun
would come,
somewhere over the road,
would come evoking the diamonds
of you, the Black continent–
somewhere over the road.
You would not have believed my mouth.

When I told you, meeting you somewhere close
to the heat and youth of the road,
liking my loyalty, liking belief,
you smiled and you thanked me but very little believed me.

Here is some sun. Some.
Now off into the places rough to reach.
Though dry, though drowsy, all unwillingly a-wobble,
into the dissonant and dangerous crescendo.
Your work, that was done, to be done to be done to be done.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

The Homeless Condition

To be homeless
Is to roam the streets at night.
In your loneliness, you are beside yourself.
You see things
Through urban eyes.
A taxi is yellow.
A rat is grey.
A working girl is turning tricks.
Unexpectedly the city knows what you know too.
In every dank alley she is there
And there you stand
Braving a bitter reality together.
Freezing winters, hungry nights
She blankets you in corrugated scraps.
A sadness too much to endure.
She hesitates to look you in the eye
Because your pain is too familiar.
When she pretends
You’re not there
Then turns her back
And walks away,
Your crutch breaks,
Under pressure,
An infinite melancholy.
You are the indigent half
Of a contemptible metropolis.
You reminisce on days gone by
Of simple pleasures
Taken for granted.
To eat plenty,
To bathe well,
To sleep comfortably,
And have a home;
Luxuries to the have not’s.
But she still walks
With blinders on.
An intentional dilemma
Of the human condition.
To watch you lie there
On cracked sidewalks
A fixed structure
Wasting away.

K.S. Pratt

© Seven Magazine

June 2013 Issue

Welcome to another exciting, electrifying, eye-popping, mesmerizing edition of Seven Magazine. It is a pleasure to have you stop by. In order to make this a more gratifying experience for you, we have decided to add a table of contents, if you will, to help you navigate through our issue. The theme for this month is Aliens. From real aliens to the aliens that haunt our daily lives, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.

The Wanderer, a short story written by Coty Poynter, is guaranteed to take you to places you’ve never been or … ummm … maybe places you never really want to go. Stay tuned for a surprise ending that will definitely knock the air out of your lungs.

Scribe Is An Adjective takes a twist when Coty Poynter types the words. In Uncommon Ground, Coty illustrates that stepping out of the norm is a good thing. What do you think? We welcome feedback in all of our sections, why not start here?

American Jabberjay’s explores a drone policy that doesn’t seem well thought out. A recent speech by President Obama seems torn from a young adult dystopian novel. Do you agree with Ymelda Ramirez‘s take on the explanations from the White House ? What implementations of this new alien  device and policy are you comfortable with?

K.S. Pratt delves into the mind of alien expert Albert Rosales and the world of visual poetry in the new edition of The Pen Bleeds. Check out a variety of poetry pieces that will ignite a firestorm of creativity. Is it art? Is it poetry? What’s your take on visual poetry?

Tiffany creates a wonderful ad campaign to invite foreigners to the United States. When I say foreigners, I mean aliens. Why? Why not? Find out more by checking out Please. . . Come In Peace!

Sit back and enjoy Una Colada Porfavor with Ymelda Ramirez as she invites you to Miami and to explore new languages, with a Sip of Espresso…errr I mean una colada.

David Estes? Yup, we got him! Check out An Alien to Publishing With David Estes and find out what Tiffany learned from this amazing Author. Print out the article and use it as a check list. Definitely some good stuff there. =)

And there you have it folks….the June Issue of Seven Magazine. Is there anything you would like to see that we haven’t covered? Suggestions and submissions are always welcome. Find out more by visiting us here. Thanks for stopping by…. see you in July. =)

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Please. . . Come In Peace!

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Photo Credit: http://www.hark.com

Hello there! This is a message to all beings beyond Earth’s hemisphere. Yes, you extraterrestrial beings that seem to be such a part of our culture. On behalf of the staff of Seven, I would like to extend an invitation to you to visit the United States. Earth is large and beautiful with many locations appeasing the eye. However, none has the diversity and intensity as the United States. You already knew that though. Because, the United States is “the only country UFO’s ever seem to land in.” (Reference Monsters vs. Aliens movie). We have a rich history and an even richer landscape. We are sure you will find something to your liking. Unless you are carnivores and Humans are to your liking or like the prospect of world domination, then please stop reading, this message is NOT for you. Other friendly and non-threatening beings, please read on.

Our government does look kindly on foreigners. We are a country full of immigrants. Don’t be turned off by a weird glance or a multitude of people all wearing black and pointing a gun in your direction. I’ll be honest, we humans tend to fear the unknown. However, I would like to share with you some of our history as history has the tendency to repeat itself. This may serve to help you on your initial visit.

On the initial discovery of America, the Europeans came to explore and check out this new land. They were amazed by all that America had to offer. The Native’s were a bit hostile at first because they had no clue who these visitors were. The Europeans were smart though. They won over the Natives by bearing gifts. What did they bring? They gave gifts that were novelties to them, trinkets and other little marvels. Things the Natives had never seen before. The point of this first example is: bring gifts. Everyone enjoys presents. Don’t be rude!

Have I mentioned how amazingly diverse our nation is? It is easy to find people of all races and cultures here. But the awesomeness that I’m getting to is food! A diverse nation means there are restaurants to cater to these people. In big cities like New York you can find Italian, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, Indian and food from just about every country in the matter of miles. What this means is that we are sure we can find something that can persuade your palate. If you’re in the mood for some good ole American food not only will you find an excess of fast food restaurants, but also the delicious BBQ in Texas and Tennessee to the unique squirrels in West Virginia, there is something out there for you. Eat our food! Not our people.

American history is something that is very rich and unique to us and you can travel to so many places within our borders to experience it. Museums for example do an excellent job of preserving bits and pieces of our history and tend to be very educational experiences. Then there are places like Virginia that host Battle Reenactments mostly centered around the Civil War. These are experiences you are not likey to forget. Not only are they filled with the actions of war, but you can safely experience it by getting front row seats! Do me a favor though, don’t take notes while you watch and explore. Humans might think your taking notes and pictures to plot against us.

Furthermore, our landscapes are truly a beauty to behold. From the sandy beaches in Miami, to the breathtaking skyline of New York, to the expansive deserts in the Southwest, to the awe inspiring mountains in Colorado, to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. You see, our land is just as diverse as our people and our food. There is so much beauty to see.

Begin with a plan. By plan, I don’t mean itinerary. Although arriving with a general idea of the landmarks you would like to visit is a good idea. Be sure that list is flexible. Pick one place and let it lead you to the next. However, let’s be honest. Although all humans tend to fear the unknown, Americans tend to be a bit more territorial. And when it comes from the government, while they might say one thing to you, what they most likely mean this:
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Photo Credit: mod db

OK, I have to be honest. Our government does an excellent job on alien cover ups. You see, we’re pretty sure your brethren have visited at one point or another. I know this because there have been thousands of eyewitnesses to some form of UFO experience and even government and military personnel have spoken out on the matter. While our government usually doesn’t confirm or deny this, they do a great job of continuing to denying it. Believers sure take that as a confirmation. If eye witnesses weren’t enough to convince people, there is also Area 51. An Air Force base that is located on the southern portion of Nevada which is surrounded by a shroud of mystery, conspiracy and CIA involvement. Many Americans believe that UFOs are in some part the cause of that mystery. To read more up on that click here. The point I hope to arrive to, with all of this. is that you must be careful. Coming here with an unknown fate might be exciting but should also be cause for fear. If you come, be sure to have fun, but be wary of all humans. They have guns.

For the none English speaking beings, this part is for you:
20130607-081534.jpg
Phot Credit: NASA

Okay… I actually have no clue what that says. So um… Sick to the English text written above. Consider visiting our beautiful country. Stay safe and please come in peace!

Ymelda Ramirez contributed to this article. =)

© 2013 Seven Magazine

An Alien to Publishing With David Estes

Publishing, regardless of whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route, is a lot of hard work. While nothing is ever perfect readers tend to expect novels to be as close to it as possible. We expect the novel to have a good story line, no typos, well rounded characters, eye catching cover art is a big plus, and an attention grabbing blurb. The standards readers set for the books they read are pretty high and writers need to work hard to make their novel a masterpiece. I regress, publishing is a crucial part of getting your book into the reader’s hands and one made all the more difficult when self-publishing.

This month Seven has welcomed established indie author David Estes to break down what it means to self-publish. He was very generous in his advice and we have that all here for you. David Estes has self-published since 2011 and has four series (The Dwellers, The Country Saga, The Evolution Trilogy and Nikki Powergloves) a total of 13 books which include Young Adult and Children’s novels under his belt. He is an amazing writer who has made a lifelong fan out of me. 🙂

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of indie authors or self-publishing, the first platform that comes to mind is Amazon. It is a leader as a publishing platform and one of the biggest online retailers. However, for someone looking into selling their books on Amazon, knowing the facts is a must. I think that if I were to look into every reason that this selling giant has been dubbed a monopoly I would be here for weeks. Yet when sticking strictly to the publishing world, it can be spelled out in two words: KDP Select. Kindle Direct Publishing Select is a program where Amazon targets authors looking to publish their novel. In essence it asks for a three month exclusivity contract in exchange for higher royalties and ensures your novel will reach a new audience with the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. When Estes was asked, ‘In your opinion what is the best and worst thing about publishing on Amazon?’ This is what he had to say:

Now that’s a loaded question! But it’s also an easy one. There are a few things that are awesome about Amazon:

First, their reach can’t be beat. They are still in a dominant position in the online (ebook) book-selling market. The vast majority of authors will undoubtedly get the bulk of their sales from Amazon.

Second, if your books are selling and getting good reviews, Amazon will help you. They will recommend your books to readers who enjoy similar ones and they will actually generate sales FOR YOU. This is an amazing thing once it really gets going. It can make or break your book.
Third, it’s really, really easy to publish on Amazon and the royalty rates are awesome if you price your book at $2.99 or above.

However, there are always two sides to every coin. There are some really frustrating things about publishing with Amazon that I’ve recently made very clear to them in a customer satisfaction survey:

First, their KDP Select program is a blatant attempt to monopolize the market, which is totally uncool. They promise nice perks like making your books available in a lending library (which you get paid royalties for) and give you the opportunity to make your book available for free every so often. However, in exchange, you have to SELL YOUR SOUL. OK, I’m being dramatic, but for me, it’s almost that bad. You have to agree to EXCLUSIVELY publish your book on Amazon. Like I said, not cool. It alienates readers who don’t buy their books from Amazon which I’m not down with.

Second, they have very strict pricing compliance rules that have been a royal pain in the butt a few times. They insist that your book must be priced as low or lower than every other retailer out there. I’m all for having my book priced the same everywhere, but it prevents you from doing, say, a Barnes & Noble promotion where you make your book $.99 on B&N for a few days. Uh uh, Amazon won’t allow it. They cry and shake their fists and say you have to include them at the party and make your book $.99 for them too. Of course, they have NO problem with you pricing your book at $.99 for a few days on Amazon but NOT on B&N. Yeah, double standards.

Third, Amazon has really annoying royalty rates for books priced lower than $2.99. It’s all part of their attempt to force Indie authors to price their books at $2.99 or above. The way it works is that if you price at $2.99 or above, you get an incredible 70% royalty rate, but if you price below that, you get a pathetic 30%. That’s frustrating because if I want to do a promotion and drop the price on one of my $2.99 books to say $1.49, although my price has only changed by $1.50, my royalty has gone from $2.09 to a measly $.46. For the most part, I price all my books at $2.99 or above, even if I don’t really want to. Otherwise it’s just not worth my while.

The bottom line, however, is that I can complain about my three big negatives until I’m old and gray and red-faced, but Amazon is still the key to my success. I own a Kindle, I buy tons of books from them, and I will continue to use them as my primary publishing platform.

Estes does an amazing job at breaking down what Amazon is to a publishing author. Now that the truth has been put out there, which is that through their good and bad Amazon is still a boss and a force to be reckoned with, you decide to still publish with them. Again, they are too big in the publishing world to look over. Just be wary of KDP Select. As in STAY AWAY!!! 🙂 But what’s next? When publishing you definitely shouldn’t stop there. That being said, Estes definitely has a criteria for selecting platforms to sell his novels, “My main goal in picking the platforms to publish on is to make my books available to as many potential readers as possible. I don’t like the idea of being exclusive to one platform as it completely ignores the thousands of readers who don’t use that platform and promotes the monopolization of the industry.” His goal is one I think all authors can relate to. He continues on to share with us his publishing strategy:

As a self-published author, I can’t possibly publish on every platform that offers ebooks, it’s just not feasible. Every day there are more and more ebook-selling platforms popping up, each with its own business model. At the end of the day, I’m a writer and I don’t want to spend my every waking moment on the publishing process. Plus, because I publish a book every 2-3 months, I need the process to be as streamlined and efficient as possible.

All that being said, my approach to publishing also needs to ensure I get the highest possible royalties for all my hard work. At the end of the day, this is my career, how I make a living, and choosing the right platforms can have a major impact on my success. There are distribution platforms out there, like Smashwords, that can help a self-published author distribute to a number of other ebook distributors. Through Smashwords “premium distribution” it can distribute to B&N, iBooks, Sony, and Kobo, to name just a few. However, as a fee for their service, they’ll take an extra 15% of your royalty. So not only will B&N take a percentage of each book’s sale price, but Smashwords will too. This can really cut into your royalties in a hurry.

Thus, I highly recommend publishing direct to as many major platforms as you can within your time constraints. Because I sell most of my books on Kindle and Nook, I publish directly to each of those two platforms. Then I use Smashwords’ service to publish almost everywhere else, like iBooks, Kobo, and Sony. However, if you choose to use Smashwords to publish some places, but not others, be sure to “Opt-Out” of distribution to the platforms you’re publishing to directly. Otherwise your book may be listed twice. So I lose a little bit of my royalty by not publishing directly to iBooks or Kobo, but it’s a minimal loss as my sales from those distributors isn’t a significant portion of my overall revenue. For me the trade-off between minor loss of revenue and the time it would take me to publish to iBooks and Kobo myself, is worth what Smashwords takes as the middle man. But if I had more time, I’d definitely consider publishing to a few other platforms directly. Finally, I publish to up and coming Google Books on my own through their Partner Program. It’s incredibly easy and already I’m seeing my sales from Google increasing each and every month.

That covers ebooks, but I also recommend publishing a paperback version in at least one place. That way your readers who don’t have ereaders can still access your books. Personally, I publish my paperbacks through Createspace, which is an Amazon company. That makes all my books available through Amazon as print-on-demand with no upfront cost to me.

The last question I asked of Estes was, “To a writer who doesn’t know their way around the selling platforms what advice would you give?”

There are a few key pieces of advice I would give to writers who are new to navigating the many selling platforms that are out there:

1. Focus on ebooks! That is the place to be, especially for Indie authors. You can offer your books at a better price than big published books and reach a growing market. You’ll also receive MUCH higher royalty rates than by publishing through print.

2. Focus on the biggest platforms because that’s where you’ll get most of your revenue. Amazon and B&N still have a stranglehold on the ebook industry. Although they will both inevitably lose some market share over time, the market is growing rapidly, so the overall pie will be getting bigger too.

3. Be aware of trends in the market. Do your research. For example, Apple and Google have both been pushing resources into their book-selling platforms, which will likely mean growth from them.

4. Take advantage of a worldwide market! Amazon and Barnes & Noble are only available in some countries. Use platforms like Smashwords.com to reach almost EVERY country. I’m selling more and more books in places like Asia, Africa, and Europe through Smashwords.

5. Use the templates provided by the platforms you choose. You absolutely need your book to be formatted nicely for each of your platforms. Otherwise readers will get frustrated with how hard it is to read your books and they won’t come back for the next one or recommend it to others.

When you are new to the publishing world and it is alien to you, there is always someone out there who has done what you are trying to do and is honest, open and giving with their advice. So ask questions. Also, be sure to let us know what part of the publishing process has you stomped and we will tackle it to the best of our and an experienced professional’s ability.

David once again, thank you so much for allowing me the pleasure of working with you and giving aspiring authors all this great advice. As per his words from the guest post listed below, “Read, read, read! Be a reader and a lover of books first.” So readers and writers out there, be sure to check out his novels which can be found on Goodreads and Amazon (and all the selling platforms listed above). To hear more on what Estes has to say about writing, publishing and promoting be sure to click on these sites: Advice For Writers That Are Just Starting by David Estes
Indie Author Advice Series #2 by David Estes

© 2013 Seven Magazine

The Pen Bleeds

Are you a believer in UFO’s, little green men, humanoids or other unexplained creatures? Maybe you’ve experienced or saw something that can’t be explained. Skeptics discount the phenomena of alien abductions and sightings as nothing more than vivid dreams or fantasies. They believe such occurrences are fueled by individuals who are attention seeking, or people who may suffer from an issue of psychosis or a side effect of heavy drug abuse. As for me I am a believer. The world is more than black and white; it consists of uncharted gray areas, which account for events that cannot be rationalized by logic alone.

To help guide us through the realm of strange beings and happenings, I interviewed international humanoid and alien expert Albert Rosales. He provides us with a more in depth look on the subject matter, and opened about his own personal experiences with aliens and UFO’s.

 

Q&A with Albert Rosalesalbert

Seven: Good evening! How did you become involved in the education and research of UFO, extraterrestrial, and other strange beings?

Albert Rosales: Hello! The main reason for my involvement in this sometimes taboo subject I have to say has been personal experience, since a young boy living in Santa Clara, Cuba I have experienced strange episodes, from seeing strange creatures, to being missing for a time, loud booms in the sky, strange dreams, bedroom visitations by shadowy beings, etc. I strive to remember everything, but I have never been hypnotically regressed by a professional.

I believe that everyone that has experienced a close encounter with a strange being or suffered any other type of anomalous experience should come forward and make it public, let everyone know. I think is important, the more people that come out (out of the alien close if you will) the more acceptance there will be. Most are afraid of ridicule, becoming social outcasts, prejudice, and of course work issues. I don’t blame them, people have been fired from their jobs for coming forward and telling the world of their experiences, not to mention the psychological trauma and sometimes physical trauma. But I think talking about it to others is a kind of helpful therapy.

I am currently involved in compiling a one of kind database of anomalous experiences, mostly entity or humanoid encounters of ALL types, including the so-called abductions. I have over 17,000 case summaries so far and growing daily. I have cases from every corner of the globe, many translated by myself, sometimes with the help of automatic internet translation engines like (Lexilogos). I have written many articles and journals and my work is known in many parts of the world. I feel a personal satisfaction that I am performing a job that is important and would be even more important in the future.

Seven: The database you’ve compiled on encounters and such is it readily available for public inquiry?

Albert Rosales:  Yes, my complete database is available on CD per request to me or I can provide a list of case summaries per year. Also many of the case summaries are available for viewing at the UFOINFO.com site, go to research and humanoid database for the information.

Seven: What is the most interesting documented case of alien encounters or abductions you have on file?

Albert Rosales: When we are talking about alleged alien encounters or abductions, I must point out that ALL are extremely ‘interesting’ to say the least. It’s very difficult to point out a single case that outshines all the others. There are many however which are well known, like the Betty & Barney Hill abduction of September 1961 (one of the first documented cases of alleged alien abduction) the Pascagoula Mississippi abduction of two men in October 1973, the famous Travis Walton abduction of November 1975, and many others.

Seven: Do you believe the public will ever accept the alleged existence of other worldly beings?

Albert Rosales: Many in the public yes, many have already, I don’t know about the public in general, the uninformed masses, the clergy, the religious zealots, perhaps slowly and surely there will be total acceptance to the concept of ‘others’ amongst us.

Seven: How have your experiences with extraterrestrials and UFO research impacted your personal life or life in general?

Albert Rosales: This subject matter has been a sort of an obsession for me since a very young age, and has not been kind. I have had several experiences myself, mostly as a young man. I think my first two marriages suffered as a result of my studies or my “hobby” if you will. I have spent much more money than I have made that’s for sure. I feel content and that I am doing something important

Seven: Many people are skeptical about UFO’s, aliens, and other creature’s existence due to lack of concrete proof they exist. What are your thoughts on close minded individuals who deny this type of phenomena?

Albert Rosales: Well, billions worldwide believe in a God, and yet they have never seen him. Proof is  a double edged sword, perhaps we do have proof, the US government allegedly recovered at least one crashed UFO or spacecraft back in 1947, maybe other countries have as well, but would they shared that information with the flock? I don’t think so. Many, the aliens or whoever they might be will never allow concrete proof to be shared among the masses, maybe there is logic to it, I don’t know. But I can only speak as a result of personal experience and years of research.

Seven: If you were given the opportunity to travel other galaxies with humanoids would you? What type of questions would you ask and how would that experience be used to educate the people of earth?

Albert Rosales: I would welcome the opportunity to travel to other worlds and realms, and learn from others with far greater capacities than ourselves, from others that hopefully have learned to overcome hate, racism, prejudices, and all those other ills that affect humanity. One question will be, who is God, what is God, I know there is a God, but is it their God, is it the same God?

Seven:  So, do you believe aliens practice a religion or are they an advanced race of beings that have a direct path to God?

Albert Rosales: That’s hard to say, since at times they themselves have been considered “Gods” here on Earth. But I believe that they worship a ‘higher being’ or power or maybe a cosmic energy.

Seven: Once people set aside their fears of the unknown, do you believe it possible for humans, aliens, and other beings to co- exist?

Albert Rosales: You hit the nail on the head; fear of the unknown is what holds us back. I think once humanity ascends or grows and humans are accepted by others in the Universe, it would definitely be possible to live together, just like those famous Sci-Fi films we all have learn to love. We will be part of the greater galactic community if you will, but as of right now I think we are not evolved enough, we are not quite ready.

Albert Rosales was born in Santa Clara Cuba on January 14 1958, migrated to Spain with his family in 1966 and then to the United States in 1967. He lived in NY (Bronx) and then like most Cuban immigrants at the time ended up in Miami. He attended Coral Gable Sr. High, and afterwards he joined the Navy and became a Radioman (Top Secret Clearance) after four years received an Honorable Discharge and went to work with his father who was an excellent jeweler (Seyboldt Building) Downtown Miami.

For more information on Albert Rosales please visit:

http://www.ufoinfo.com/humanoid/

https://www.facebook.com/garuda79

garuda79@att.net

alberthumanoid@gmail.com

garuda79@aol.com

Expression of poetry through art using arranged text in a funky order or shape and pictures or symbols that express a deliberate point of view is called visual poetry. Usually poetry and art tends to be subjective to the creator, sometimes it’s relatable to others, but that depends on the observer’s point of view.  Check out the pieces below.

Fear Aliens

alien

K.S. Pratt

My Shadow

concrete_myshadow

Jennifer Phillips © 2009

The Promise

marriage visual4

K.S. Pratt ©

Hope

Humanity

K.S. Pratt © 

Forgiveness

concrete_poem_forgiveness

J.K. Phillips © 2012

Excerpt: The White Fires of Venus

venus

 Denis Johnson © 1994

 

Over Thinking

overthinking

© 2013 Seven Magazine