What’s the basis to a conspiracy?

If you were to look up “conspiracy theory” in Wikipedia, the usage of the term would be as follows:
“Conspiracy theories are based on the notion that complex plots are put into motion by powerful hidden forces.”
In the same Wikipedia entry, political scientist Michael Barkun gives an explanation of why conspiracy theories have become such a powerful notion in our society. “Discussing the usage of [conspiracy theory] in contemporary American culture holds that a conspiracy theory is a belief which explains an event as the result of a secret plot by exceptionally powerful and cunning conspirators to achieve a malevolent end.

According to Barkun, the appeal of conspiracism is threefold: First, conspiracy theories claim to explain what institutional analysis cannot. They appear to make sense out of a world that is otherwise confusing. Second, they do so in an appealingly simple way, by dividing the world sharply between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. They trace all evil back to a single source, the conspirators and their agents. Third, conspiracy theories are often presented as special, secret knowledge unknown or unappreciated by others. For conspiracy theorists, the masses are a brainwashed herd, while the conspiracy theorists in the know can congratulate themselves on penetrating the plotters’ deceptions.”

Is Barkun right? By allowing ourselves to believe that conspiracy theories can explain most of what goes wrong in the world, are we letting ourselves believe that the world isn’t a random place, and that we are smarter than most other people because we know some “secret knowledge?” If we agree with Barkun, to be a conspiracy theorist is to be a person who yearns for meaning in everything; nothing happens without a reason, there is no such thing as chance or luck. Is he right or wrong? I think we need to review a little history of the term before we answer that question.

As far as the way conspiracies are viewed in America, the turning point came in the 1960s and 70s. Before then, Americans had a taste of conspiracies by the actions of Hitler and Stalin. They were both men with secret plots to bring about a malevolent end. However, with the JFK assassination and Watergate, we experienced two events which happened on American soil that we couldn’t conceive of happening. Presidents weren’t supposed to be assassinated by lone gunmen. Presidents weren’t supposed to act like criminals. Both cases, with their bungled investigations and the attempts to keep certain information secret, has fueled both paranoia about what our government is doing in secret and a desire to become watchdogs of our government’s actions ever since.

Are there conspiracies in the world? You bet. Can every bad thing that happens in the world be blamed on a conspiracy? Not at all. Sometimes, much like a raging hurricane or a ferocious tornado, things happen in the world that just happen. They weren’t meant to cause harm but they just do. But just like we’ve tried to do with creating stronger buildings and storm shelters to help us feel safer in stormy weather, we’ve created conspiracy theories to explain everything and keep us safer from the unknown in our lives. And just like those stronger buildings and storm shelters, sometimes they work. But other times, conspiracy theories can’t explain why something happened. But that doesn’t mean that we stop using them to explain the unexplainable, for trying to give meaning to an event allows us to understand it better. And for that, I’m glad we have conspiracy theories and theorists in this world.

What’s the basis to a conspiracy theory?

If you were to look up “conspiracy theory” in Wikipedia, the usage of the term would be as follows:

“Conspiracy theories are based on the notion that complex plots are put into motion by powerful hidden forces.”

In the same Wikipedia entry, political scientist Michael Barkun gives an explanation of why conspiracy theories have become such a powerful notion in our society. “Discussing the usage of [conspiracy theory] in contemporary American culture holds that a conspiracy theory is a belief which explains an event as the result of a secret plot by exceptionally powerful and cunning conspirators to achieve a malevolent end.  According to Barkun, the appeal of conspiracism is threefold: First, conspiracy theories claim to explain what institutional analysis cannot. They appear to make sense out of a world that is otherwise confusing. Second, they do so in an appealingly simple way, by dividing the world sharply between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. They trace all evil back to a single source, the conspirators and their agents. Third, conspiracy theories are often presented as special, secret knowledge unknown or unappreciated by others. For conspiracy theorists, the masses are a brainwashed herd, while the conspiracy theorists in the know can congratulate themselves on penetrating the plotters’ deceptions.”

Is Barkun right? By allowing ourselves to believe that conspiracy theories can explain most of what goes wrong in the world, are we letting ourselves believe that the world isn’t a random place, and that we are smarter than most other people because we know some “secret knowledge?” If we agree with Barkun, to be a conspiracy theorist is to be a person who yearns for meaning in everything; nothing happens without a reason, there is no such thing as chance or luck. Is he right or wrong? I think we need to review a little history of the term before we answer that question.

As far as the way conspiracies are viewed in America, the turning point came in the 1960s and 70s. Before then, Americans had a taste of conspiracies by the actions of Hitler and Stalin. They were both men with secret plots to bring about a malevolent end. However, with the JFK assassination and Watergate, we experienced two events which happened on American soil that we couldn’t conceive of happening. Presidents weren’t supposed to be assassinated by lone gunmen. Presidents weren’t supposed to act like criminals. Both cases, with their bungled investigations and the attempts to keep certain information secret, has fueled both paranoia about what our government is doing in secret and a desire to become watchdogs of our government’s actions ever since.

Are there conspiracies in the world? You bet. Can every bad thing that happens in the world be blamed on a conspiracy? Not at all. Sometimes, much like a raging hurricane or a ferocious tornado, things happen in the world that just happen. They weren’t meant to cause harm but they just do. But just like we’ve tried to do with creating stronger buildings and storm shelters to help us feel safer in stormy weather, we’ve created conspiracy theories to explain everything and keep us safer from the unknown in our lives. And just like those stronger buildings and storm shelters, sometimes they work. But other times, conspiracy theories can’t explain why something happened. But that doesn’t mean that we stop using them to explain the unexplainable, for trying to give meaning to an event allows us to understand it better. And for that, I’m glad we have conspiracy theories and theorists in this world.

Is social media killing your author website?

Is social media killing your author website?

I must admit that alot of the fodder for recent posts have been from the CBS business site bnet. It’s just as writers, authors, and general creative types, we sometimes get so caught up in character arcs, plot lines, sub plots, and general how to pull off a ripping whodunit, that we rarely think about how the heck we gonna sell it?
With so many folks praising Social Media these days as the answer to selling anything and everything, especially as a way for us, the great unwashed authors toiling away in near obscurity, to get our books into the laps of our readers, I came across a bnet article on how SM may just be keeping us from paying attention to that other technological thingy that is the true closer in our corner – our websites.
The article makes a great case for having, and managing, a great site. For us writers, tweeting and blogging may get a message out there, but it is our websites that allow us a space on the web where we can share sample chapters, post a book trailer, and even sell our books. Websites are still our storefronts and we must keep the windows clean and the front stoop swept, or else no matter how many flyers we post in the neighborhood, or ads we take out in the local paper, ain’t no one gonna come by to take a look or buy a book. How’s that for ending with a little poetry?
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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

How to be a best selling self published author

How to be a best selling self published author

 
So Iget an email last week from author Michael Prescott about his novel Last Breath. Published in 2001, he just released it in ebook form for 99 cents. If it’s anything like his other titles he released for 99 cents, it will also be a big seller. In fact, he thanked us readers in the email for our support : “Your support has made it possible for me to hit both the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists – a very rare thing for a self-published ebook. In fact, I’ve had as many as three ebooks on the USA Today list simultaneously! “
 
So, how does a self published author get on the NYT and USA Today best seller lists? Well, I asked him in an email and here is part of his response:
 
“I talked about my strategy in this interview: 
 
 
Basically, I would say dropping my price to 99 cents and then promoting the book on the Kindle boards was what made it happen. There’s a whole subculture of Kindle buyers who look for 99-cent books. You can find threads in the Kindle forums devoted exclusively to 99-cent ebooks., and most of these threads invite authors to promote their work. (I’ve found it’s best to promote yourself only on the threads that invite you to do so. I’ve also found it’s best to hit only five or ten threads in a week, so as not to be seen as a spammer.) 
 
John Locke’s How I Sold One Million Ebooks in Five Months suggests a somewhat different strategy that involves Twitter. It worked for him. Personally, I’m having a hard time figuring out Twitter. 
 
 
You might also join Indie Writers Unite on Facebook, where there are a lot of good suggestions and ideas, as well as a lot of support. I noticed you don’t list Facebook or Twitter in your signature. IMO, it’s important to use these social networking services. It’s a way to build a following. 
  
Given your reviews and endorsements, I think you can easily climb the Kindle ranks if you follow my approach or some variation on it. The approach is not original with me, BTW. I was emulating a friend of mine named J. Carson Black, who has sold more than 200,000 ebooks this year. 
 
Of course people have to like the book. I just released a goofball comedy novel, and despite my best efforts, it’s going nowhere, because people really hate the thing. Turns out I’m not funny.    Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
<img src= sad" width="16" height="16" border="0" />    Live and learn …”
 
So, it is possible to be bestseller as a self published author! Thanks again to Michael for the priceless advise. I hope his words help all of us. Ebooks are all the rage, but they are still in their infancy. The only direction is up!
 
 
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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Failing our way to the bestseller list

Failing our way to the bestseller list

“Failure is priceless.” I agree wholeheartedly with the above caption. I also agree with the interesting BNET article I read about, “Why Failure is the Secret of Your Success.” I agree with the article’s main point that our kids don’t know how to fail. Some of our generation don’t know how to fail. It is the coveted ability to deal with failure that assures our true, long term success. As Michael Caine (playing Alfred the Butler) told Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins after Wayne tells him he’s a failure, “Master Wayne, why do we fall? So we learn to pick ourselves up.”

We’ve all heard the stories of how JK Rowling, Stephen King, and John Grisham toiled for years in obscurity, received enough rejection letters to wallpaper his entire office, and resorted to self-publishing after numerous rejections and had to sell copies out of the trunk of his car. Without these short term failures, they wouldn’t be the same writers. If they had received success after the first book they ever attempted, do you think they would be just one hit wonders and not the reliable authors who continue to pump out best seller after best seller? I think so.

I’ve been writing for almost 10 years, and I’ve had numerous failures. After receiving a heap of rejection letters, I’ve self-published two novels.  But, my second novel was better than the first. My next novel will be better than the second. I’m working on both nonfiction and fiction right now, I network with the writing community through this blog, on twitter, I belong to a writing group, I attend the annual writers conference in my area every year and I have an agent. I am learning from my mistakes. If something doesn’t work, I try something else to get my name out there. But all the while, my writing is getting better and better. Someone once said that the definition of stupidity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results. I’ll take being called a failure or being called stupid any day.

What about you? Tell us about your failures in writing. And tell us what you’re doing differently to overcome them.

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com