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Literary Scam, or Social Media Run Amok?

NY Literary Magazine has been shut down by social media negativity after an ill-timed contest notification was sent on Christmas Day.

Was such an attack warranted?

I don’t know the truth, but I do admit to looking askance at the “nomination”. I’d never heard of the publication, and was unsure of the contest’s legitimacy.

And the magazine sure seemed to cave easily to the accusations.

However, there is an endorsement from Writer’s Digest, and one from the NY Times, either of which could have been confirmed after a simply inquiry. Did any netizens investigate before crying “Fake!” to the world?

Below are the invitation and the response from the magazine. Judge for yourselves.


Merry Christmas and Congratulations!!!
Dear Keanan,
You were nominated for the NY Literary Magazine “Best Story Award”.

Click here to submit your entry:
https://NYLiteraryMagazine.com/Best-Story-Award

Submission period ENDS on December 31st, 2017.

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes,

The NY Literary Magazine

PS: You can now add to your bio and credentials
that you are a 2017 Best Story Award Nominee.

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales” – The NY Times

“Can do wonders for your writing career… one of the best ways to get your writing noticed!” – Writer’s Digest


Re: NY Literary Magazine Scam

Dear Author,

This is an official email from the NY Literary Magazine (NYLiteraryMagazine.com) regarding the Best Story Award contest, the nomination emails, the scam complaints, and the cyberbullying attacks upon our authors and our magazine. (This is the last email you will ever receive from us.)

What is this about?
On Christmas, an email was sent from NYLiteraryMag.org telling authors they were nominated for the Best Story Award contest and inviting them to submit their book to our contest.
It appears these emails angered people and caused them to believe our contest is a scam.

We would like to apologize for any annoyance, confusion, disappointment, or aggravation which the marketing email you received on Christmas may have caused you.

Additionally, there have been many inaccurate accusations circling around and cyberbully attacks upon authors who were awarded our award.
This has ruined our business and caused us to permanently shut down our magazine and contests.
Everyone who purchased an entry into our contest has been refunded.

After years of work on this magazine, we have had to fire our entire team of loyal, hard-working, full-time employees.

Who are we?
The NY Literary Magazine was a print and digital magazine.
We published free-to-read digital poetry anthologies, ran free-to-enter short story contests and poetry contests, interviewed authors, and wrote helpful articles.

The scam allegations are regarding an email sent out from NYLiteraryMag.org about our “Best Story Award” contest.
This is indeed a book contest we started and were running on our website with an extremely affordable reading fee.

What happened?
Regretfully, we outsourced our marketing to an Asian company to help us spread the word about our Best Story Award contest.
We believed they were experts and could help us reach authors.
It was our terrible mistake to entrust the entire marketing campaign in their hands including the marketing methods, approach, and text.
They sent out a marketing email on our behalf, from an email at nyliterarymag.org, at an unexpected time for USA time zone on Christmas.

Unfortunately, it appears they chose the wrong approach and terminology when inviting authors to our contest by telling them they were nominated instead of simply informing them of our contest and inviting them to join it.
It was our terrible mistake not to closely supervise and monitor each marketing action they did and the text they used.

For other businesses such as VIP Entrepreneur clubs (with ~$1,000 annual membership fees), sending a nomination email instead of an invite to join their clubs worked very well. Our marketing agency, therefore, presumed this was a good way to approach authors as well. They even thought that authors who didn’t want to/couldn’t afford the $15 entry fee to our contest would still be happy to be nominated and be able to mention it in their bio.
They did not think there would be an issue with nominating multiple authors.
Nor did they think it would annoy authors to be nominated.

We apologize to all the authors who feel they were misled by being nominated.

In reply to the inaccurate accusations:

We are shocked at the number of inaccurate allegations which are circling on social media regarding us, our magazine, our anthologies, and contest. To make matters worse, some forum threads are locked and comments disabled on websites so we can’t even answer the accusations.

“The award seal is fake.”
The award seal is a PNG image. What exactly can be fake or “real” about a PNG image?
We never claimed winners would receive a physical, solid gold sticker for their book.

“You’re selling award seals for $15. Everyone is an award winner, you just have to buy the award to win.”
These accusations are completely false. We are not selling award seals. We never have and we never will.
Nowhere on the sales page does it say we’re selling award seals.
$14.95 was the initial entry fee (which was later raised to $19.95) for the contest. Award winners were to receive an award seal for free.
Stating “everyone is a winner” is also false. We have 1 winner per month per genre.
Obviously, those spreading these false accusations and outright lies didn’t even visit the website or the contest’s page.

“The nomination email came from a mailing list. Only scammers use mailing lists!”
It takes a lot of time to contact people one by one. Even authors use mailing services to contact all their readers in one go rather than sitting for days sending individual emails.

“The authors you say won an award don’t have it on their book covers. It’s a scam! They didn’t really win!”
It is up to the award-winners if and how they choose to use our award seal.
All we do is inform the winners. Whether or not they choose to use our award seal is up to them.
We showed 3 examples of how awards CAN be used on a book’s cover for illustration purposes.

“Their free contests prove they’re scammers. It’s a trick, a way to make you like their magazine.”
Interesting. So we’re a “scammer” if we charge entry fees and we’re a scammer if we don’t charge entry fees.
Hard to please everyone. At least our poetry contest winners were happy when they won our free-to-enter contests.

“They say you were nominated but have to pay to be nominated.”
Authors nominated were not required to pay anything to be nominated.
Some nominated authors posted the picture of our trophy statute they were nominated for and used it for their marketing without paying to enter our contest. They didn’t have to pay to be nominated.
If they did not want to enter our contest, they did not have to. No one was forced to enter.
Those who wished to have a chance to win the awards paid the low entry fee and entered their book.

“Your contest is a scam. You are stealing people’s money.”
Some authors think our contest and magazine is a scam due to the marketing email they received about being nominated.
Our contest was a normal book contest with a low entry fee.
Many contests have entry fees. Whether or not the marketing email was misleading or annoying is another matter but that does not turn our entire magazine and contest into a scam.

“There is no submission page! It’s a scam!”
Due to a PayPal IPN issue, clients who purchased an entry were not automatically redirected to the contest submission page. Moreover, after many people reported us as spammers, our confirmation emails no longer reached our clients’ inboxes.

We have been dealing for the past days with hundreds of support tickets.
Each of our clients has been given the URL to the submission page where they successfully managed to submit their work, while we worked on fixing the IPN and form issue. It was only today that we realized what the issue was after PayPal sent us the email you see us above.

There is a contest submission page. People have been using it to submit their work.
These allegations that there is no submission page are false.

“Your stealing money! People can enter the same contest for free on another page on your site.”
Someone claimed our Best Story Award contest (which is a full-length story/book contest) is the exact same contest as our free-to-enter short fiction story contest. These two contests are completely different. One is for books the other for short fiction stories up to 2,000 words. Seemingly, this person did not visit the contest page or bother verifying facts.

“Stop trying to pretend you’re a literary agency!”
This comment which was posted on our “List of 20 Top Literary Agents Representing Fiction Authors” really surprised us.
The article is a resource listing 20 top literary agents with contacts to them or links to their websites.
Nowhere on or off our site did we ever claim to be a literary agency in any form or manner. We are not a literary agency. We are a magazine.

“Scammers always put “NY” in their name. It’s a red alert flag.”
NY is one of the biggest publishing centers. We had no idea the city/state’s name has a reputation as a scammer. That person should perhaps inform the NY Times to change their name and branding as well.

“The reviews you quote from authors are fake! They didn’t enter your contest. You’re using them to bait others.”
The authors who were featured on our sales page were all indeed awarded the “Best Story Award” by our magazine.
Yes, they did not pay to enter this contest. They submitted their book for review to our magazine on their own accord at some point during 2017.
We awarded them this honor because we believe their book is great and they deserve the award.
We have a right to award an award to anyone we want to.
We quoted exactly what they said in reply to our email in which we told them they won our award.
We did not quote anything which they did not say. We did not invent, modify, or add anything to what they said.

“On the PayPal receipt, it says Goodwin Media Group not NY Literary Magazine! Scaaaaam!”
Yes, the magazine is run under the umbrella of Goodwin Media Group (GMG). Many websites are owned by companies which have different names than the actual website domain name. We informed our customers on the thank you page after payment that they would see GMG on their PayPal receipt.

“The quotes on your page are fake.”
We have a section talking in general about how winning an award can help an author.
We quoted what various reliable sources such as The Independent Publisher and others have to say about how winning an award or being placed in contests is helpful for an author’s career, for their credibility, and for getting more sales etc.
We quoted true facts about winning awards and contests in general. We did not lie and say this is what they said about our contest.

“Your anthologies are fake.”
There is nothing fake about our anthologies. They are filled with original art and with poems written by real people who submitted their work to our mag and were overjoyed about being published. We even offer the anthologies in a free-to-read digital format.

Since the founding of the NY Literary Magazine, we have worked long and hard to turn it into a beloved and respectable magazine. We worked hard to design each of our free-to-read anthologies, read through thousands of free poetry and short story submissions, write articles to help authors, provide useful resources, and grow our readership. We did all this work in the past years at our own cost.

“You hired an Asian provider. Ha! That proves you’re scammer.”
American marketing agencies charge extremely high fees.
Many companies outsource their marketing to Asia/India.
There are tens of thousands of Asian marketing companies on sites such as Upwork.com
It is very hard to know who is good or not.
Simply hiring an Asian marketing company does not make us a scammer.
If an author hires a Phillipino assistant for $300/mo to answer emails, this doesn’t make the author a scammer either.

“The poor Asians! All the scammers always blame them.”
We are not the only company who has had bad experiences with outsourced providers.
It’s a matter of luck.
Yes, we know we made a mistake by not monitoring all the marketing campaigns.
But that one wrongly worded email does not make us scammers.

A big apology to all the authors who are suffering due to the lies spread about them “buying” an award seal from us…

For two years, we’ve been running free-to-enter poetry and short story contests and publishing free-to-read digital magazines and print anthologies. We even spent time training and monitoring 20 interns who read through thousands of free poetry submissions this summer.

We made tens of writers around the world happy. Writers published by our magazine sent us heartwarming thank you notes. Some said being published is what gave them the strength to continue writing especially after receiving discouraging letters from agents and publishers they contacted.
Others from extremely poor countries (Nigeria, Botswana, India) were overjoyed to have an opportunity to submit their work for free to a magazine and to have their voices heard.
We featured writers of every nationality, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
Even our interns enjoyed working for us and were grateful for all the things they learned.

Since our anthologies are free, our poetry contests are free, and submissions to our magazine are free, we needed a way to sustain our magazine for the future, which is why we launched the Best Story Award contest.

We are completely devastated and shattered from the extent of hate mail, comments, messages, tweets, lies and false accusations that were posted online which have totally blackened our name and destroyed our magazine – all based on a single email with one wrongly-worded sentence.

It’s shocking how many people have posted blatant lies which weren’t based on any facts and how many more people have shared, retweeted, and quoted those lies without ever checking to see if it’s true or at least visiting our website.

Worse still, it is truly horrible to see how cruel some humans can be.
Some unsuccessful, jealous authors are spending days contacting the fans of authors who won an award from us or received a book review, telling their fans lies in an attempt to ruin the author’s reputation, turn their readers against them, destroy years of their hard work to build up their careers and readership, and ruin their lives for no reason and under the guise of “saving them from a scam”.

We love our authors and feel terrible to hear what some of them are going through thanks to these misguided people! This has been a heartbreaking Christmas.

We hope those people who spread the lies and worked so hard to destroy honest people’s lives are now satisfied.
We have closed our contest. Refunded everyone who entered.

There will be no more free-to-enter contests. No more free-to-read anthologies.
No more articles. No more anything.

We had the heartbreaking task of firing our team of loyal, hard-working employees. 10 people are now jobless after Christmas.

Please leave the poor authors alone. They did nothing wrong by receiving a book review from our magazine or receiving an award from us. Stop ruining their lives for no reason. Go work on your book instead.

To all the rest of you, we wish you all the best success in your career and a happy life!

Sincerely,

The NY Literary Magazine Team

Copyright © 2017 NY Literary Magazine, All rights reserved.
This is the last email you will ever receive from the NY Literary Magazine.
Our mailing address is:
NY Literary Magazine
Unit 31321 808 Commerce Park Drive
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
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Advice to a Young Writer

Advice to a Young Writer

This message from a young writer arrived last week via my website:

I am interested in writing teen fiction light novels. The genre I would like to work with is fantasy, adventure, and space. What does it take to become a fiction writer? What steps did you take? and How did you accomplish your work? I am still working on my fiction story. I created a link [omitted]. Just to get a head start.

A few days later, when I had time to provide a lucid reply after sleeping hours and hours, I wrote back:

Welcome to the land of stories! We writers are an odd bunch, living so often as we do in worlds of myth and make-believe.

How does one become a writer? One writes.

A lot.

Like all crafts, writing takes time and practice. Often, the first book written will not be the first book published. Many writers have manuscripts that will never see publication, because those were their practice books. Maybe book three or book five is the one finally published, the one readers might think is the author’s first book ever.

Dragon’s Rook took twenty years from concept to publication. Most writers don’t take that long. I was busy making a living while writing short stories and poems, submitting them to contests or magazines, and then — at long last — finishing a novel.

However, there are many unfinished novels. Some I threw away, because the time to write them had long past. Some I kept, because I still have a passion to complete them.

I can’t give you any rules or checklists to guide your journey. It’s unique to you. However, all writers become writers by — drum roll, please! — writing.

Learn all you can about constructing compelling storylines, creating intriguing characters, writing dynamic dialogue, and even learn proper grammar and sentence construction. Good paragraphs are structured like good jokes: not that they are all funny, but that they build toward a strong ending. Write a strong sentence, write a strong paragraph, write a strong scene. Repeat until you have a chapter, until you have another chapter, until you finally have a book.

Avoid cliched phrases or trite characters. Avoid lazy writing. There may be only a limited number of stories in the world, but find a way to tell your story in a fresh way.

Be open to constructive criticism. Not nasty put-downs, but honest feedback meant to help your work improve. Be humble and teachable. Be ready to stand up for your story choices, if necessary, but also be ready to consider other options. Be willing to look at the story honestly, and to see its flaws as well as its strengths.

I saw on your website that you have some of your story posted. A word of caution: Avoid offering too much of your work for free, or too soon. A chapter or a scene might be okay, or a short story related to the novel not included in the book itself. (Many writers are offering free short stories or deleted scenes as bonus material for readers.)

I wish you all the best on your journey, and I hope to hear good things about you in the future.

Sincerely,
KB

Any other advice you’d give a young writer?

 

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Update: Dragon’s Bane

After a long time away from this manuscript, the second in The Lost Sword duology, I am able at last to focus on finishing Dragon’s Bane. The current version stands at approximately 70,000 words, still quite a long distance from the end.

However, the artist / designer is at work on a new dragon eye for the cover, another artist has drafted a background image, and now they’re waiting on me to get my words together.

—————————————–

As of 6-19-17, I have one paperback copy left in my possession. The list price on Amazon.com and CreateSpace is $17.99 However, for $15 (s/h included), I’ll sign and mail this hefty tome to the first reader desirous of a discount.

Only twelve reviews have been posted on Amazon, but I’m grateful for every one. Thanks, y’all!

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Evocative

Took this shot with a 1:1 lens at sunset in December, and we were losing light fast, so settings for one shot weren’t accurate for the next shot. Still, I like this image. It’s been brightened and sharpened and filtered, and remains imperfect, but it evokes other images.

If this were a book cover, what kind of story would it contain?

Jamie at the campus
(c2016, KB)

 

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Humor Turns the Day Around

At work last week, my team was so shorthanded that people from other areas of the store were pulled to the back to help unload the truck. Three of them were former members of my team, and those of us who remembered them were pleased to be working with them again.

Old friends and excellent workers, a couple of young guys debated video and online games while they pulled their freight from the line and stacked it on pallets.

Another youngster had removed his work vest and shirt and toiled in his undershirt. His sister’s cat had shed all over him, and he didn’t have his allergy medication. Drippy nose and watery eyes were nigh getting the best of him.

Gamer #1: “Cats are evil.”
Gamer #2: “I — have a cat.”
Gamer #1: “So? Cats are still evil!”
Me, nodding to the allergy-stricken youth: “Just ask John.”
Gamer #1: “See? Cats are of the devil.”
Gamer #2, with a wicked grin: “Have you met our lord and savior, Meowsus?”

Laughter erupted, so loud and long that guys on either ends of the line wanted to know what was so funny.

Humor can turn one of the rough days into one of the best days.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

A Real Head-Scratcher: Manufactured Drama

A Real Head-Scratcher: Manufactured Drama

This blog may be called Adventures in Fiction, but how ’bout some real-life manufactured drama?

For a little over a year now, I’ve decreased my freelance work and returned to a ‘real’ job: stocking freight for the local unit of a nationwide store chain. Stocking freight may seem menial after the other jobs on my resume, but it was my first choice when I applied. First, it would keep me active and not standing in place, as a cashier must do. Second, it would force me to exercise, which editing and writing do not necessarily encourage, as one spends hours before a computer or a narrow-lined notebook. Third, it would be good physical therapy as I continued to recover from injuries (and avoided doing the actual therapeutic exercises, because they hurt). Fourth, it would limit my interaction with the public—although, to my horror, there is still altogether too much of that. And, fifth, it would provide the extra income whenever income lagged from royalties or freelance jobs.

Now you know why I was there. So, where’s the drama?

My team and the overnight team are both short of members; thus, some of us stayed a few hours late to finish freight so the other team wouldn’t have to scramble to take up our slack. Some time around 1 a.m., a woman and her young daughter were looking at handsoaps, but my cart was partially blocking one shelf. I moved the cart back toward me, and opened a box.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” said the woman.

“No, it’s fine,” I replied. (The words on the page are far more stark than they were spoken.)

I kept working.

The woman said something to her daughter, and then continued with “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You don’t have to be upset about it,” and more comments in that vein, as if she were arguing with someone.

Then I realized those apologies and offended remarks were directed at me, and she was working herself into tempest.

Not knowing if anything I said to mitigate the situation would actually escalate it, I kept silent. Do not engage. Do NOT engage.

She and her daughter moved on, and I thought they were gone, but they soon showed up on the next aisle I prepared to stock. Then her husband arrived, and they had a low-voiced conversation while I and my teammate exchanged status reports and moved on to our last cart of freight. We returned to separate aisles.

I opened a few boxes.

The husband walked past, muttering.

I caught “…rude, m_____-f_____ing…” and again didn’t realize immediately the words were directed at me until he was already several aisles away.

My teammate stepped out into the main aisle and looked at me.

I said quietly, “Some people are offended all by themselves,” and returned to my cart.

“What was that?” the man roared.

I stepped back into view as he strode toward us, one fist raised, and I stared at him.

Standing off to the side, my teammate replied, “We were talking about work.”

And then we went about our tasks.

He had nothing to do but drop his hand and go about his business.

It was a Doc Holliday moment: “Oh. Johnny, I apologize; I forgot you were there. You may go now.”

My thoughts: Wow. What a way to defend your wife’s honor. Mutter a few obscenities in a passive-aggressive walk-by cursing. Yeah. You da man.

Later, when the teammate and I told our supervisor about the incident, he shrugged it off—the customers’ offense, not the aggression—and told us to alert management whenever we feel threatened. In the moment, however, all I considered was the ridiculousness of the situation and that I was too far away to step between the angry man and my teammate, should he choose to swing at her.

Thank God he backed down in the face of our calm, ‘clueless’ response.

When I recounted the incident later to Bubba’s Wife and expressed my lack of understanding over what I could have done to offend the female customer, she said, “The woman wanted attention, and you weren’t giving it.”

Shrug.

That’s the second time in about a month that people have worked themselves up into an offended frenzy over what they imagine to be my offense. What must they have imagined about me? About themselves? And why was anger and offense their go-to reaction?

 
 

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When Gaerbith Met Kieran

Struggling to complete this scene. I’ve already composed the first paragraphs of a scene that comes later, involving these characters, but am not sure how to proceed with this fight scene. It should be intense, I think, but witty.

Perhaps I am asking too much of it.

From the Plains rose a smudge of green that grew or shrank depending on the swell of the land as they travelled. Days later, it revealed itself as trees, and in two more days, the trees revealed their size, giants standing arm-in-arm.

Yanámari halted her mount on a grassy rise and looked East. “The Guardians.”

Gaerbith nudged his horse up the slope and joined her. Thick limbs intertwined, and massive trunks were separated only by the shadows between them. Somewhere beyond them light flashed, perhaps sun reflecting from the glass observatory built by King Meresh in long ages past. How had it survived the war and all the centuries after?

“The House of the Sky,” Gaerbith said, clasping Yanámari’s hand. “Home to your mother’s ancestors.”

“That blood is too remote to claim any kinship here.”

“Still. Almost home.”

By nightfall, they rested in a hollow among the tangled roots of the guardians. Fallen branches provided enough fuel for a fire in a small pit dug where the Plains sidled up to the trees, and a tiny brook trickled out from the shadows as if it had been awaiting their arrival before springing up from the ground. Gaerbith and Yanámari sipped handfuls from the rill spilling over tumbled stones, and the horses drank from the little pool it formed before disappearing into the tall, waving grass. Animals shuffled and snuffled somewhere beyond the Guardians—familiar night noises—but when a sudden silence fell, both horses lifted their heads, chins dripping, and pointed noses and ears toward the darkness.

A faint shrr of cloth against cloth sounded a moment before the quiet firmness of a careful footfall.

Reaching over his shoulder, Gaerbith gripped the hilt of his sword. “Come, you. No skulking. Show your face.”

He did not expect the answering chuckle, or the pleasant low voice that accompanied it. “That sword is nigh man-tall. Exchange it for a stave, and we will have fine sport.”

A thick staff flew from the shadows. Gaerbith caught it more by instinct than sight.

 

c2017, KB, for Dragon’s Bane, a novel

 

The connection between these two guys is a minor plot twist — revealed to the reader earlier in the story, but not yet known to Kieran. And, at this moment, not known to either guy, because Gaerbith does not yet know it’s Kieran who is challenging him.

 

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