Celebrating Freedom: Giveaway & Blog Hop

Welcome to Freedom Forge Press’s stop on the I Am a Reader, Not a Writer Freedom to Read Blog Hop! Check out my thoughts on freedom below, then scroll down for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!

Many things in life are seldom missed until they’re taken away. So it is with individual liberties.  When I graduated from high school, I left home to join the US Army. As any veteran or currently serving member knows, basic training is designed to break down individuals and rebuild them into components of a unit.  My experience was no different.  Something as simple as calling home to talk to mom and dad was a luxury.  Internet, email, favorite TV shows, the simple freedom to leave and go someplace else (that wasn’t on the drill sergeant’s agenda), even drinking a soda were all things I never considered to be “freedoms” until they were taken away on the day I put on Army green.

Basic training spanned over the 4th of July holiday for me.  I can remember our company being given a special “treat” on the day America celebrated her independence.  We marched onto a field, in hot uniforms, and were given the chance to watch an evening fireworks display—seated on the ground in straight lines of course.  The display went on for about a half hour.  As I watched the brilliant colors explode across the night sky and reflect on the faces of my fellow soldiers, I realized for the first day in weeks, we weren’t being yelled at, weren’t doing pushups, and weren’t given detailed instructions on what exactly we were supposed to do.  We just sat, enjoyed the moment, and relished in freedom before returning to the remaining weeks of our training.

I and many others willingly gave up these basic freedoms in order to serve as part of a military force that swears, above all else, to protect and defend the US Constitution.  We swear to obey all lawfully issued orders—not allegiance to a single person.  We bear the burden of service so that others would not have to bear it.  I’ve since returned to civilian life, and I see too often that people are willing to trade away their individual freedoms in exchange for the fleeting stability of a government program or a promise of benefits or for “the greater good.”

On Independence Day, think for a moment on what it means to be free.  Does the picture you form in your mind include the government telling you what size soda you can buy and sell? Does it include bureaucrats banning lemonade stands and bake sales?  Does it include the government telling parents what they can and can’t put into a lunch their child takes to school?  Does it include a government that tells people who they can and can’t marry or what people can and can’t do with their own bodies?  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are said to be rights that are inalienable to us.  They can’t be taken away, nor can the government “grant” them to us.  It is government’s fundamental job to protect these rights and not destroy them while pursuing a self-proclaimed and self-serving notion of a “greater good.”

We should not allow the government to freely intrude on our freedoms.  We must demand and hold elected officials accountable for the choices they make on our behalf and how they carry the torch of freedom—whether they hold it high and let it shine brightly or whether they try to dim its eternal flame.  Mankind was meant to be free.  That’s why I founded Freedom Forge Press—to find people’s stories of freedom, their essays and their cautionary tales and showcase them for all to see and so that the torch of freedom is able to shine ever brightly.

What do you associate with freedom? Leave a comment below, and have a great Fourth of July!

-Eric, Freedom Forge Press

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Time for a Change by Michelle Worthington

Freedom of press is an interesting concept. How much of what is published is based on good writing and how much is based on good marketing? What we and our children read is determined by what sells and what makes a profit, and less about enriching literacy.

Australian children’s books have always endeavored to capture the uniqueness of the Australian way of life. Books such as “Dot and the Kangaroo” (1899) by Ethel Pedley, “The Magic Pudding, the Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum” (1918) by Norman Lindsay, “Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” (1918) by May Gibbs, “Blinky Bill” (1933) by Dorothy Wall have played a huge part in establishing our national identity.  But a national identity, once established and successfully marketing, is a difficult thing to sway.

Australian picture books had their golden age in the 1970’s. Mem Fox’s “Possum Magic” illustrated by multi award winning artist Julie Vivas, David Cox’s “Tin Lizzie” were the staples of school and home bookshelves. “Who Sank the Boat?” by Pamela Allen , “Diary of a Wombat” by Jackie French and Alison Lester’s  and Margaret Wild’s fabulously simple and engaging stories were to follow, including a stream of Mem Fox classics. A whole generation of Australian children grew up reading these books by authors establishing themselves firmly in a growing market.

But what is next? The market for children’s books is not longer growing, and in some cases, falling away. The E-book revolution is making authors and publishers alike uncertain about the future of children’s picture books, not only in Australia but internationally. More than ever, publishers are no longer accepting un-solicited manuscripts and are doubtful of investing in unknown authors. Smaller publishers are building a groundswell of new and exciting manuscripts, but they are unable to get their books into the bookstores, who themselves are skeptical to take on unknown authors and are sticking to well known and mass produced books. Publishers are not free to make decisions about taking on talented new authors. Decisions are made based on the bottom line, not on merit. This is the new face of Freedom of Press.

Where does this leave the emerging international authors and publishers? Developing an online presence and learning to market yourself as an author and in turn your publications is now par for the course of becoming a successful writer.  ‘Vanity publishing’ is becoming less of a dirty word, as it becomes a viable avenue for getting your work out into the market, in the hope that a publisher will ‘hear’ of you and consider your subsequent works.  The world is changing and the next generation of writers are more than capable of accepting the challenge.

All I can say to my fellow aspiring authors is to take courage from the fact that emerging fiction, non-fiction and picture books are some of the best quality ever produced. The new generation write with heart and a uniquely independent voice. Never give up hope that your book could be the next ‘classic’. The electronic age is reinventing Freedom of Press. Our time has come.

About the Author:
MICHELLE WORTHINGTON is the author (Australian and proud of it!) of the picture book, The Bedtime Band, published with Wombat Books in November 2011. Her first adult nonfiction book, Practically Single, will be released by Mostly for Mothers Publishers in June 2012. Her next children’s picture book, The Pink Pirate, is being published by Little Steps Publishing and another children’s picture book, Yellow Dress Day, will be released in September by New Frontier Publishing.
Michelle has two boys who love to read, and she has read them a story to get them to sleep every night of their life. The stories she writes are like the stories she read as a child–tales with a timeless message. Her family are her inspiration and motivation to become a successful author.
You can keep track of Michelle at http://www.michelleworthington.com and check out her author store.