Category Archives: Authors Answer

Authors Answer 151 – Tough Criticism

Authors will never please everyone. They have their fans, but also their critics. Check out some of the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and you’ll see some pretty negative reviews, including for books that are widely loved. Authors need to develop a thick skin when dealing with criticism, whether it’s from readers or publishers.

Question 151 – What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

C E Aylett

Do you know what? I can’t think of anything I’d consider really tough. I mean, sure, I receive ‘harsh’ critiques on workshop pieces but in a constructively harsh way, so i don’t really see that as tough. More like helpful. When I was a Noob I got a bitchy critique from someone but I soon found out that they had some rather ugly and deep psychological issues. It was such a long time ago I don’t even remember what was said now.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

To be honest, I don’t take too many criticisms to heart. I learned a long time ago that most criticisms are based on personal tastes (which I can’t control, so why worry about it?) or peoples’ desire to be jerks for no particular reason (which I also can’t control, and those people aren’t worth my time anyway).

That said, there was one criticism that really bothered me, mainly because it was very public. I’d sent out a few free books to a service that passes those books on to reviewers with the stipulation that they rate and review the book on the platform of the author’s choice (in my case, Amazon), and I received entirely positive reviews except for one. That last reviewer completely demolished me, on Amazon, for the world to see, with a 2-star review and a major bashing of my writing style, wording choices, and claims of grammatical/formatting errors that not one other reader has brought up yet, so I’m not even sure what she was talking about. All in all, I felt it was an unnecessarily cruel slamming, and because of the wording of the review I felt like she was purposely being harsh simply because it’s a zombie story and she felt that zombies are “over”. I would have just brushed it off as someone who doesn’t like zombies and probably shouldn’t have even been reading the book in the first place, but it bothered me for a while because it kept showing up on the book’s Amazon page as the top review, and it frustrated me that that would be the first thing people saw if they scrolled down to see what people were saying about my book.

Jean Davis

To date, I would say the hardest thing to hear was confirmation on issues I suspected with one of my published books. You know, those nagging issues that you ponder in the night, but your publisher and critique partners assure you it’s all good. Then you begin reading reviews and realize you should have trusted your gut. Trust the gut, it’s there for a reason.

H. Anthe Davis

In the past, I’ve been told that I’ve tortured the English language. That’s part of the reason I’ve been going back over my early books to see where I can un-torture certain phrases and paragraphs — because honestly I can’t deny that sometimes my sentence structure and concepts get a bit over-complicated and knotty. I’ve had a lot of success recently in fixing those problems, and thus the flow of the stories.

D. T. Nova

Even the most negative criticism I’ve received has been given respectfully and constructively, at least.

The toughest was probably the (largely correct) observation that characters were spending too much time discussing important issues unrelated (or seemingly unrelated) to the plot.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Criticism vs vitriol… I suppose the toughest legitimate criticism is that I am a little sparse and dry in my writing style. Vitriol is another matter. I’ve been told that my characters are unbelievable because life is fair and someone can’t be tall, good-looking, and competent.

Gregory S. Close

The toughest criticism I’ve received as an author was probably the review of In Siege of Daylight on Creativity Hacker.

The reviewer didn’t find it engaging, was totally confused about what was happening (based on his description of what he’d gleaned of the plot) and he objected to the “proper noun salad” of people, places and things and thought the prologue was pointless .

It was tough to read, particularly because I made an effort not to fall into the bad prologue trap or the info-dump trap. Disappointing. But I actually like critical reviews. You can learn a lot from them.

Jay Dee Archer

For my serious writing, I haven’t received anything particularly tough, but the one that popped up often was my tendency to use infodumps. I told too much, and didn’t show enough. That’s fair criticism, because I completely agreed. But as for some less serious writing, I once published a parody online when I was in university that made fun of the writing style of younger people who don’t seem to know grammar or spelling very well. It was well-received by a lot of readers, but it was completely bashed by one who thought I actually wrote that way. He didn’t realise it was a parody until after I told him.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what was the toughest criticism you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments section below.

Advertisements

Authors Answer 150 – Creative Evolution

Writing is a skill that changes over time. The more an author writes, the better they become at their craft. Reading our first stories remind us how far we’ve come. And quite often we cringe and hide that story so no one can see it. This time, we’re talking about how we’ve changed over the course of our writing careers.

Question 150 – How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

H. Anthe Davis

I think I’ve most evolved in my editing skill — my ability to detect bad material and fix it. I’ve also loosened up a bit in my textual diction and am slowly figuring out how to not torture the English language, as I was critiqued once. I used to use more complex constructions and more high-falutin’ words in places where they weren’t necessary, or were in fact counter-productive to the flow and tone of the narrative. I’m trying to relax that, and clean up some of my descriptions and metaphysical concepts so it doesn’t take ten re-reads to figure them out. Clarity and precision are key.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Creatively? I think I can definitely say that over time I’ve expanded a great deal concerning the type of fiction I’ll write. Growing up, and as a young adult (not that I’m particularly old now), I would pretty much only write fantasy-type stories. Even concerning fanfiction, I stuck to things like Harry Potter and that novelization of Final Fantasy 3 that I never did finish (*cough cough*). As time went on, though, I began delving into genres I never really thought I’d be any good at – such as horror – and I loved it. These days, while I do definitely still focus on fantasy, horror, and supernatural themes, I’m a lot more open with what I’ll try. I haven’t shared much of it, but I’ve written lots of different genres now, from alternate history, to sci-fi, to erotica, and I think being able to do that really exercises the mind creatively, even if you know that you might never publish those pieces.

Jean Davis

When I first started writing seriously, it took me much longer, like years, to finish a first draft. Now that I’ve been at this for twelve years, I’ve managed to wrap up a full first draft in a matter of months. I’d like to think my voice is stronger, that I’ve got a better grasp of what works and what doesn’t, and that I now know when to abandon a project and when to slog my way through it.

Eric Wood

My writing has evolved slowly and quietly over the years. Where I once wrote straight forward without inferences, I now include hidden, deeper meanings. Where once all my characters were the same (basically, me) now are diverse and unique. Also, my stories have developed a complexity they didn’t have before.

Gregory S. Close

Over the years I’ve increasingly recognized the importance of craft in writing, rather than relying purely on talent. A natural talent for writing/story-telling is important, but it’s equally vital to have the tools to hone that talent. You can only be as talented as you, that’s a set value – but you can always improve your craft with hard work.

Cyrus Keith

If anything, I believe I’ve grown to be more careful in writing technique, using literary tools more easily. I pay attention to repetition, excessive speech tags, adverb usage, tension, characterization, and a host of other details that I always took for granted before. I think with every novel I complete, I become a better writer, more able to wield these tools with ease. I also think I’ve become more humble, through the many rejections that still come my way.

Paul B. Spence

I began as a sort protoplasmic ooze with single storylines but quickly became multi-linear. I suppose it might have been radiation, or that big black monolith thing in my back yard…

D. T. Nova

I’ve become more aware of my influences, and consequently become more likely to get a little meta.

I’d also like to think I’ve gotten better at writing things that work on multiple levels.

Jay Dee Archer

In the early days of my writing, I had fairly straightforward stories with a rather awkward way of narrating. I really don’t want to read what I wrote back then. My stories have added many layers. There are multiple storylines now. And I think I narrate far better. Word choice, avoiding repetition in speech tags, and a strong desire to avoid infodumps. But I also think that the eleven years that I spent teaching English have improved my grasp of the English language. I pay close attention to the grammar I’m using, though I think I may do that too much. I get hung up over a sentence, when I should just continue writing and worry about the structure later when I’m editing it. There’s always room for improvement!

How about you?

If you’re an author, how have you changed creatively over the years? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 149 – eBook Piracy

Pretty much everything that’s been copyrighted or patented has been copied. There are bootleg copies of Rolex watches, bootlegged and pirated movies, sharing of music with peer-to-peer sharing software, and eBook piracy. It’s the last one we’re concerned about. This week’s question was asked by Gregory S. Close.

Question 149 – What are your thoughts on ebook piracy – is it a terrible scourge, a necessary evil, or potentially great viral exposure?

C E Aylett

That’s a tricky one. I mean, before ebooks were around how many times did you lend or were lent a book? We didn’t recognise it back then as piracy, but it amounts to the same thing — sharing a work you didn’t have the right to distribute. Of course, that’s small scale compared to how things are shared nowadays.

I came across one of my Kindle stories on a reading site the other day, actually. I thought I’d investigate further and hit the ‘read online’ button to see what happened. It asked me to register and give my credit card details, even though they promised they wouldn’t take any money from the card. Obviously, alarm bells were clanging and I declined, but it did make me wonder how it worked. If I had given my card number, would I have been able to access the story for free, and if so, how can that be when it’s a story solely on Kindle and should be behind a paywall? If they had scammed me and taken money from my card, would I have had access to the story for free and who the hell is making money on the back of my work and not paying me? Because Amazon are the only ones who pay me for those stories. It’s one thing having stuff out there for free because you want to share your work or gain readership but it’s something else entirely if people have access to unlimited content for a small fee that isn’t being paid to the authors of the material the hosts are profiting from. That is noxious. But it seems the life of an author, sadly. Most short fiction publications want you to donate your work to them for nothing, too. It’s attack on the author from all sides!

D. T. Nova

A mildly annoying scourge, maybe? It’s bad and should be discouraged, but I think the scale of it isn’t sufficient to be as big a concern as some people make it to be.

Paul B. Spence

*Shrug* I don’t feel like it affects me. I could see it being a strategy for viral marketing, if anyone wanted the book. The way I see it, people who want to buy my book will buy my book. If they are pirating lots of books, they probably won’t ever read mine anyway.

Cyrus Keith

Any kind of intellectual piracy is the kind of arrogance I’d relegate to someone with the mentality and moral compass of a fly. The worst part is, they don’t respect anyone else’s privacy and property, and think nothing of stealing from others, justifying their theft through entitlement thinking. They don’t care how much blood, sweat and tears we have to pour out to create our work, they just want a free ride on our coattails. My blood pressure goes up even thinking about these cretins, these leeches, taking food from my table, stealing from my pocket, not caring that I struggle to meet my own bills. They may as well be coming through my window and making off with my wallet. There is no excuse, no good reason for what they do, and I wish I could implant something in every one of my books that could detect a piracy attempt and fry out their hard drive. I believe I’ve answered the question.

Gregory S. Close

I think piracy sucks, and there’s (generally) no excuse for it. I have no problem with friends sharing individual copies of paperback or ebooks, but actual piracy, where the book is taken and distributed to millions upon millions with one click – no. I don’t buy the “it gets you more exposure” or “there’s nothing you can do about it” arguments. It’s stealing. You are taking something that an author worked very hard to create and produce in a qualify way, and you’re not compensating the artist. That sucks. It’s also a bad way to ensure ever getting further creative content from that artist. If someone really wanted a free copy of my book, for example, they might try ASKING me for it vs. torrenting it.

Eric Wood

At first, my initial thought is that it’s a terrible scourge. I wouldn’t walk into a bookstore and walk out with a (or many) book without paying for it. Why I would I do that online? I might as well take the money right from the author’s pockets. However, with the internet being the internet, it’s going to happen. So perhaps it’s more a necessary evil? It will help word of your work spread when one reads it (for free or otherwise) and tells others that they read it and liked it and encourage others to read it who then go out and buy it.

Jean Davis

As much as it might potentially be great exposure, I work for months, sometimes years on a book. Giving that effort away for free doesn’t pay my bills. It’s not like I’m working for some giant book making company that pays me regardless and can absorb the losses piracy creates. When you don’t purchase the book in one way or another, that’s lunch money for my kid, my electric bill, etc, that falls short.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’d call it a “scourge” any more than I’d use the same word to describe the thousands of people who pirate each episode of Game of Thrones (hey, if HBO is going to make it effectively impossible to legally obtain episodes in Canada, I’m calling the piracy fair game!). A necessary evil? Perhaps, because it’s simply one of those things that’s nearly impossible to avoid, so why bother worrying too much about it? Potentially great viral exposure? I guess that depends on a number of factors. All in all, I can personally say that, as an indie author with little-to-no royalty income to her name, I do find the idea that people might be passing around pirated copies of my book to be very vexing. But then again, these pirates who are reading the book probably wouldn’t have ever read the book if they hadn’t been able to pirate it. So it’s one of those situations in which you almost have to just be happy with the less crappy option; either way I’m not getting paid, but at least someone is reading the book. Was my thought process bouncy enough for you on that one?

H. Anthe Davis

As someone who doesn’t write for the money, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. So long as people are reading it, I’m happy. Though I’d like it if they’d leave a review somewhere…

Jay Dee Archer

Necessary evil? No, it’s not necessary at all. Scourge? Probably not as bad as people may think, but it would be incredibly irritating for me to find that one of my (future) books is pirated. Potentially great viral exposure? Exactly how is it going to go viral? Thousands of people download the pirated copy, and I don’t see a single penny? No. Absolutely not. I’ve been working on this for years. I want my money. Am I greedy? No. Any artist who works on something for a long time, putting so much time and energy into something, would want a return in their investment. While I don’t expect to be a bestseller, I want to be able to pay bills. I have a family to support. Just like I’m not going to write for someone for free just for the exposure. I write for you, you pay me. Same thing if I was doing photography. You want me to take pictures for you, you pay me. You want me to paint a picture for you, you pay me. I write a book and spend a large amount of time and effort on it, I expect to be paid for it. So, eBook piracy is stealing. It’s that simple.

How about you?

Are you an author? How do you feel about eBook piracy? If you’re not an author, but you’re a reader, how do you feel about obtaining books through questionable means without giving compensation to the author? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 148 – Selling Your Book’s Film Rights

Popular books are most likely to be filmed. Lord of the Rings became arguably some of the best film adaptations. The Hobbit is another matter. Jurassic Park became a fun action and special effects movie, but lost the intelligence of the book. When authors sell the film rights to their books, they have to consider who’s going to make the movie and how closely they’ll adhere to the original story of the book. Do it for money, or do it for the integrity of the story? This week’s question was asked by C E Aylett.

Question 148 – Given the opportunity, would you sell film rights to your book without question or risk waiting for the right production team to come along later down the line, even if there were no other offers on the table?

H. Anthe Davis

I would certainly want to wait for the right production team. A big part of my series, its themes and its world is the multi-racial and especially the mixed-racial aspect, to the point that I’d want most of the cast to be of mixed heritage. Considering Hollywood’s long-standing whitewashing issues, I would need to trust the casting department of whatever production team I sold it to, or else the whole point of the story would be adulterated.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It’s entirely possible that my answer would change down the road, based on my present situation, but right now, at this exact moment in time, if someone wanted to buy the film rights to one of my books I’d probably have the contract signed before they could finish forming the sentence. For one thing, I assume the money for selling film rights would be a fairly nice little paycheck, which I could definitely use at this junction in my life. For another thing, I jut think it would be amazing to have someone make a movie of one of my stories. Perhaps they’d butcher it beyond belief, but I guess just the idea that someone would even consider one of my stories worth adapting to film sounds incredible to me.

Jean Davis

That would be like accepting a publisher’s offer without question just so you can be published. No thanks. As awesome as an offer on film rights would be, I have questions and I need answers before signing anything.

Eric Wood

If it were my first book turned movie I would probably sell the rights to the first comer. I would just be so excited to see my work on the big screen that I wouldn’t want to wait for another team to come along. If later books were to become movies I would hold out for the right production team. After the novelty of the silver screen wore off after the first movie, I would want to see my next one done bigger and better and as professionally as possible with an A list cast.

Gregory S. Close

I’m not sure that I’d sell the film rights “without question” but I would probably make some sacrifice in creative control/oversight if the payout meant that I could choose to write full-time. I would rather wait for the right team/studio to make the most faithful adaptation possible for the chosen medium, but I’m too old and have too many bills and obligations to be too picky. I’m in more of a Han Solo frame of mind than Luke Skywalker on this point, I guess!

Cyrus Keith

I have a huge personal stake on my reputation as a person as well as a writer. Opening Hollywood to do the same to my work as what they did to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and so many other novels makes my skin crawl. I couldn’t bring myself to sign off carte-blanche creative control to someone who would make my work mean something totally different from what I wrote.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Tough question. I might sell an option without question, but not the rights altogether. I suppose the answer is no, unless they offered me some ridiculous sum of money, in which case they are probably right for the production anyway.

D. T. Nova

I’d definitely have some standards.

I particularly don’t like the thought of having to turn down a later offer because the rights are tied up with something that might not even be made and won’t be good even if it is.

C E Aylett

Ha-ha! My own question and I have no idea. I think maybe it would depend on which book. Some would probably have a higher emotion investment than others (on my part). Also, it might depend on how popular the book was. I mean, let’s say it turned into a cult classic or huge like 50 Shades, then maybe you could afford to wait it out. George R.R Martin says that by the time film options came to him he’d made so much money from the book series he could afford to say no to Hollywood, and did. And aren’t we all grateful for that!

Jay Dee Archer

Without question? No. I don’t think authors are likely to do that. There will be questions. Who wouldn’t ask questions? I’d want to make sure that they aren’t going to completely change the story. If it turns out totally different than the book, I probably wouldn’t want it connected to my book, especially if it flops. Ideally, I’d like to have some creative control with the script of the movie. I’d want to work with the scriptwriters. No, I’d probably want to wait, unless that first offer is actually pretty good.

How about you?

If you’re an author, would you sell the movie rights to your books to the first studio that gives you an offer without question, or would you wait for the right offer? Let us know in the comments below.

Where’s Authors Answer?

You may have noticed that the last three Authors Answer haven’t gone up. Never fear, they will all be up this week! This is going to be a big Authors Answer week, so plenty of answers to read. What happened? Life, generally. I won’t go into details, but a lot happened.

What’s in store for October? Normalcy! Actually, it’ll be Authors Answer’s third anniversary at the end of this month, and if you’ve been following it for a long time, you’ll know what we do for our anniversary questions. Guest authors! I don’t know who’s going to be a guest yet, but I have a lot of people I want to ask. In the past, we’ve had Michael J. Sullivan, Django Wexler, Janny Wurts, Mark Lawrence, and more! I’m hoping for some more authors this month.

Who do you think I should ask? Keep in mind that most books I read are fantasy and science fiction, so I’d be more inclined to ask fantasy and science fiction authors.  Let me know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 147 – Considering Economic Factors When Writing

Creativity is probably the leading reason authors write. They want to create stories that people enjoy. But how much does economics factor into writing books? There are several factors that may figure into how a person writes, including book length and more. This week’s question comes from Gregory S. Close.

Question 147 – Do you write purely creatively, or do you consider economic factors, such as how long the book will be, and how that would effect production/distribution costs?

C E Aylett

Purely creatively. If you approach it from the other direction you are boxing in your muse. And there’s nothing worse than a story that feels contrived to fit size (think of TV series Game of Thrones — wouldn’t we have liked a little more time to develop the Jon/ Dany relationship? Now it feels inauthentic because it wasn’t afforded the proper amount of time to develop, unlike him and Ygritte.)

D. T. Nova

I’ve paid attention to the length, but with more focus on pacing and tension than on economics.

Paul B. Spence

A little of both, of course. I write the book as creatively as you could wish. I do, however, keep in mind a certain size for the book. I try for ninety thousand to one hundred-fifty thousand words per book. So far so good…

Cyrus Keith

Word count is a factor. Many publishers today don’t want to even look at works less than 75,000 words for a novel. After that, I write what I want to write.

Gregory S. Close

Once upon a time I wrote purely creatively, and assumed that the merit of the work would drive how it was published, rather than things like page count, trim, how much shelf-space it would take up, etc. I thought that I was being economically responsible, but I really didn’t know how things worked until my first experience self-publishing. After surviving that, and realizing how much the size of a book effects the production cost, and thus the potential profit for the publisher and/or author (I only get pennies for every paperback of In Siege of Daylight that I sell, because of the print/production costs of a 600+ page, 240k word beast of a tome that it is), I changed my tune.

Now, I’m a lot more practical in how I consider my writing. I know that the sequel to Daylight will probably be equally huge. I can’t afford to invest the time in another epic and the money in the editing, cover art, trim etc. for another economically doomed novel. So, to be strategic, I have decided that if/when I write at all now, it is to be focused on the shorter, more contained, and potentially more profitable books (Greyspace, short stories and a couple of other ideas I’ve got kicking around). In theory, strategically marketing those more profitable works should allow for me to then pivot back to the GIANT TOTALLY EPIC SERIES. Back and forth I must go, if I ever want to make this work. It takes some of the fun out of it, but ultimately, planning ahead might make the difference between getting a chance to write full time or continuing to write part time, part of the time.

Eric Wood

Seeing as how I’m not published yet, I write solely creatively. I write for free right now, so if someone were to offer to pay me double I’d still make nothing. Perhaps one day I’ll have keep those factors in mind.

Jean Davis

When I set out to write a book, I just write the book. The story is how long it is. However, when it comes to editing that story, I then consider the overall length and what publishing goal would be the best for that particular project. I find it’s easier to focus on embellishing or streamlining after the initial creative process has had its way with the story. Too much pressure to meet a specific word goal makes it more difficult to get that first draft out. I get too hung up on specific word choices, efficient sentence structures or adding sufficient wordy depth to the plot, description, and characters.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For the overwhelming part, I write purely creatively. I consider small factors, such as ensuring that the book is at least a certain length, but in general I don’t really let that affect my writing. Some would probably say that I should, because it might make my books more attractive to readers/publishers/etc, but for the most part I write because I love it and because I have stories to tell, and I don’t feel like obsessing over those “economic factors” do anything toward writing a good story. Creating something that is enjoyed by the people who read it is more important to me than creating something that checks off all the proper boxes as far as “proper” creation of a book.

H. Anthe Davis

While I’m aware of length and production issues (being an Amazon CreateSpace self-publisher in the print version, and therefore able to see what it costs per unit at certain sizes), I believe a book has to be the length it deserves to be. Can’t shortchange the plot or the characters just for space considerations. That said, there are always tweaks that can be made and extraneous bits that can be trimmed to keep the page count more manageable. I do what I can.

Jay Dee Archer

At the moment, I’m writing purely creatively. I’m not at the point where I’m considering economic factors, such as length of the book. I believe it’s more important to write what I think is a great story. Of course, I have the length of the book in the back of my mind, but also things like cover art. But if I’m thinking about economic factors, it will interfere with my creative process. Write first, worry about the other things later. But once I am considering economic factors, then I will look at what’s best in terms of being published, both independently and traditionally.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you consider economic aspects while writing, or do you focus on it entirely creatively? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 146 – Being Charitable

A lot of the big authors support charitable causes or projects. They could be for education, poverty, medical, or many other causes. With plenty of money from contracts and book sales, many authors want to use the money for some good. This week’s question comes from C E Aylett.

Question 146 – If you became a big-name author, like Rowling or Lee Child, what personal projects would you pursue/create with your fame and fortune? What causes would you support?

H. Anthe Davis

I’ve never looked into this, as I doubt it would happen, but I generally support environmental causes so I’m sure I’d start there. And probably give grants to some library systems.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I am a huge, huge, HUGE fan of the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign that was created by Jared Padalecki of the Supernatural TV show. Padalecki has suffered a great deal from anxiety and depression, and has used his fame and influence to create this campaign selling shirts with logos from the show in support of mental health awareness and support. I really respect that and admire the success he and his co-stars have had with the campaign, because I myself have also suffered – mostly in silence – from anxiety and depression. With that said, I’ve promised myself that if I ever do manage to become a big-name author with any kind of real ability to affect social influence, I’ll start my own similar pursuit to support those who don’t always know how to support themselves, because I know what it feels like to struggle with the idea that you’re all alone inside your own broken head.

Jean Davis

Assuming I was a big name author, I’d love to so some anthologies with lesser known authors to help get them noticed by readers. With anything resembling a fortune, I’d continue to support National Novel Writing Month to a better degree than I do currently. I’m sure there are many great causes out there, but that’s the one that comes to mind first.

Eric Wood

There are two I think I would support. Since I just gave blood yesterday, something I do often, I would support the blood drives. Perhaps I would get that license plate that says “vampire” for when I park at blood donor clinics. Being a teacher I would support education. Perhaps through breakfast programs or free lunches or simply rally the people around teachers and all they do. I would also consider creating scholarships for kids who wanted to pursue a degree in education.

Gregory S. Close

If I had the money and influence of someone like J.K. Rowling… Wow. I would love to contribute money, time and resources to raise funds and awareness for lesser-known diseases and cancers, like Langerhans-cell Histiocytosis (LCH). Ironically, it’s LCH Awareness Month in September and I always do some sort of fund raiser this time of year (this year, giving away free books and asking for donations in return: http://lightdarkandshadow.blogspot.com/2017/09/free-book-92-94-in-support-of.html). So hey – go get yourself a FREE BOOK! 🙂 If I had a larger social media presence, my tiny little effort would be magnified a thousand fold and might actually make a difference. That would be great.

I would also like to start a foundation (or contribute to an existing one) that focuses on teaching critical thinking, rational discourse and civility to youth. Social media has amplified how far and how fast ignorance can travel and propagate misinformation. We need to provide the tools for people to discern what really is fake news versus what some politician might claim is fake news for their own personal gain. People are arguing back and forth with very subjective, meme-based arguments that don’t make sense and don’t contribute to solutions. Love to help stop that.

Cyrus Keith

I have a dream of transforming run-down, crime-ridden neighborhoods from the inside out, being able to provide capital and a hand-up to bring local businesses back in, and provide incentives to clean up and provide self-policing efforts to reduce crime and renew hope for folks to get rid of ghettos one at a time.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Personal projects? Powered armor? Practical nanotechnology? A space program? I’m not sure what you were looking for here. Causes? You mean like world peace? I’m not much of a cause-head. I think I’d probably support feeding and housing the homeless. While we cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of people in other countries, we need to put our own house in order first. We should be leading the world in education and medicine… I guess I do have a cause of sorts.

D. T. Nova

Personal projects: An animated adaptation of my writing, maybe?

Causes: clean energy and human equality.

C E Aylett

In my twenties I spent a week in east Burma, around Kengtung area. I didn’t know anything about the place – we just happened upon a ‘guide’ at the Thai border when we went to get our passports stamped to enable our visa extension, and met with him a week later and off we went. He took us to some of the mountain villages which, unbeknown to me, we weren’t supposed to go to — tourists at the time were only allowed to stay — i.e. spend their dollars in — government owned hotels (i.e. all the hotels).

The villagers had never seen white people before, and the children were hesitant to come near us, though massively curious at the same time, peeking around walls and then hiding if we looked their direction. Their hospitality was unmatched by any other place we went that whole year trip and one place in particular stands out in my mind, though I don’t know the name of the place exactly. They threw us a party, we danced all night and in the morning we had to wait until our guide had sufficiently recovered from the night before. Turned out he was into the black smoke and we had financed his addiction as this happened almost every day. So, while the men all seemed to do nothing but smoke opium, and the women seemed to have gone off to work the paddy fields from early morning, we were left with the children and the grandmothers. We had a pack of playing cards and a biro and some paper and the kids completely enthralled by us trying to teach them card games (not very successfully) and drawing around their hands and stuff. They particularly liked it when we tied our sleeping guide’s shoelaces together! (he-he) The kids were crying out to learn, it seemed to me, but there was no school for them, which was part of the oppression of the people. Turns out that area of Burma had only recently opened up to tourists and was historically where most of the rebel action happened. (Yes, research countries before you visit them!)

Anyway, getting back to the question, if I had that amount of success and it was politically possible, I would finance some schools or education projects in that area. If felt like such a waste of young minds and we could see their futures laid out before them, no hope of escape. The people were so lovely. They didn’t have much but they gave us everything they had in terms of hospitality and I would love to go back one day.

Jay Dee Archer

As a strong supporter of education and the sciences, I would probably give to one of many causes that provides good quality science education to those who are not in a good position to receive it. For example, scholarships for low income students who want to study the sciences in university, or an organisation that promotes the sciences in communities to encourage people to be more scientifically literate. With the increase in the number of people who deny climate change, are anti-vaccination, deny evolution, and get fooled by con-artists who promote dangerous pseudoscientific “cures” that don’t actually work, I think science education is more important than ever. Awareness needs to improve. That and I’d like to support clean energy.

How about you?

Which causes and projects would you support? Let us know in the comments section below.