Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Soapboxes & Social Media: How Sturdy Is Your Platform?

Whether you're taking a public stand via social media on women's rights or Oreo-flavored Oreos, please, please, PLEASE verify your sources. Disinformation is a real thing that's been happening since the advent of news. Text wrapped around an image or video does not make whatever that text is asserting true. Statements are often taken out of context and spun to suit a narrative. A talking head behind a desk is not beholden to any vow of truth or objectivity.

The internet makes it really easy to spread good things and bad things, facts and lies. Don't assume that a post on a friend's wall comes from a reliable source. Don't assume that because it looks like a legit news site, that it isn't embedded marketing, native advertising, or straight-up cult recruitment.

If you've got a soap box, by all means, use it. Be smart, make sure it's sturdy. Don't lose your credibility in a rush to indignation or to catch a bandwagon.

As the saying goes, "Trust but Verify."

Not sure how to double-check your sources?  FactCheck.org & NPR both offer refreshers in "Is That True?"

I'm a big fan of Snopes.com and PolitiFact, plus using the Three Source and For/Against rules we learned back in grade school.

Critical thinking, folks. It's important to your sanity and your social media presence.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Should Authors Comment on Politics?

Well, I do. 

Within reason, of course. I've done it here, I've posted links here. I'll likely continue to as long as there are situations that I think need fixing.

Listen, celebrities do it all the time. You know who else does it? Politicians. And they're some of the least qualified rectal orifices I can thing of, with a few exceptions. 

I live in the US of A. United States of America. This is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, according to at least one song I can think of. And the very first right they decided needed protecting in this country is the First Amendment,  Free Speech. Pretty much in front of everything else. Now, a few people will turn around and say that it's freedom of the press not the average. I'll counter with it's the right to bear arms in order to form a militia, not to have a thousand rounds a minute and armor piercing bullets. So to those naysayers I'll just point to the Second Amendment, nod and smile. There may or may not be a finger involved. I would also point out that as it is a government by the people and for the people, we have every right to offer an opinion on how it is run. This government is SUPPOSED to run FOR us, not OVER us. 

When we do not speak up, we are not heard. When we are not heard, we are silenced. Not just with our voices, but with our words. How can we. as writers, remain silenced? 

The whole of he letter is below, but allow me to quote a man who was once insulted by copies of his books being burned, "If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own."--Kurt Vonnegut

Here's a reminder from one of the most powerful and significant speculative fiction writers of the last 100 years. He says his words so much better than I can on the subject that is near and dear to my heart and sums up every possible reason why the answer to our question today is "YES! A  THOUSAND TIME. YESSSS!"


"November 16, 1973
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school.
Certain members of your community have suggested that my work is evil. This is extraordinarily insulting to me. The news from Drake indicates to me that books and writers are very unreal to you people. I am writing this letter to let you know how real I am.
I want you to know, too, that my publisher and I have done absolutely nothing to exploit the disgusting news from Drake. We are not clapping each other on the back, crowing about all the books we will sell because of the news. We have declined to go on television, have written no fiery letters to editorial pages, have granted no lengthy interviews. We are angered and sickened and saddened. And no copies of this letter have been sent to anybody else. You now hold the only copy in your hands. It is a strictly private letter from me to the people of Drake, who have done so much to damage my reputation in the eyes of their children and then in the eyes of the world. Do you have the courage and ordinary decency to show this letter to the people, or will it, too, be consigned to the fires of your furnace?
I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. I am in fact a large, strong person, fifty-one years old, who did a lot of farm work as a boy, who is good with tools. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. They have all turned out well. Two of them are farmers. I am a combat infantry veteran from World War II, and hold a Purple Heart. I have earned whatever I own by hard work. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer.
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. They didn’t damage us when we were young. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us.
After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, “Yes, yes–but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.” This is surely so. But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. Even your own children are entitled to call you that.
I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the eduction of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books–books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.
Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.
Kurt Vonnegut"

I couldn't have said it better in a million years.

James A. Moore

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Should Authors Comment on Politics?

This photo didn't come out in focus - too dark - but I'm sharing it anyway because the moment of this full supermoon rising through clouds in Santa Fe during a penumbral eclipse was absolutely incredible to see. My wonderful friend, Anne Calhoun, was visiting. We climbed up onto the roof and watched the sun set and the moon rise. Neither of us got great photographs.

Too much magic, maybe,

But you're not here to listen to me talk about friendship, moonrises and magic. Or maybe you are. If you know me or follow me on social media, you'll expect this sort of thing. If you clicked on a link because you found the topic interesting, you're maybe wondering when I'll get to the point.

Eventually, my new visitor!

Because this week's subject is Hot Topics & the Author's Social Media Voice, it seems the perfect time to point out that the these three things - voice, social media, and an author's response to hot topics - are inextricable. Let me unpack that a bit.

Voice

The best explanation of "voice" that I've ever heard - that is, the one that made me understand what an author's voice is - is that it stems from our beliefs.

In the writing world we spend a lot of time discussing voice. Readers recognize it, even if they can't articulate how or why. Industry folks will almost uniformly agree that it's an author's voice that keeps readers coming back for more. Authors, especially beginning ones, work to refine their personal voice. Which isn't easy, since it's not simple to explain, define or teach. Daunting for an element so critical to being a successful author.

One thing is clear - voice cannot be faked. It takes sometimes years of writing, and likely publishing, to refine that voice to its purest form. I saw paintings the other day by a 78-year-old artist. Her recent work is distinctly hers, but she completes in a few brushstrokes what she did with thousands in her youth. I saw that and thought, wow - look at how she's honed her voice. I did a post a little while back that talks about voice more. (In looking it up, I'm amused to find a photo with it of another Santa Fe landscape. See? My voice.)

It was Jayne Ann Krentz who, in a workshop, said that voice arises from our beliefs, from who we most essentially are. She's interesting because she's reinvented herself as an author several times, and has written under several names, including that one, Jayne Castle, and Amanda Quick. Each name indicates a different genre, but many of her readers (including me) read all three because we love her voice. Many love "all three authors," not realizing they're the same person.

Hot Topics

Which leads us to what we each believe in. In talking about "hot topics," I'm not referring to the clothing store (though I totally bought the Loki dress) or about the latest celebrity gossip, I'm talking about the tremendous political upheaval we've been going through all around the world, but most pointedly for me, in the U.S. with the 2016 presidential election.

The standard social media advice for authors is to stay away from politics. And I have several friends who follow it assiduously. They never post anything publicly on which way they stand. The argument is that politics shouldn't enter into what is essentially a conversation with your readers about books. I can see that. In fact, I often follow it. For the most part I'm not all that interested in debating politics anyway.

But this last election put me to the test. I kept coming back to Edmund Burke's quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That's something I believe to be true.

In a typical election, I'm not going to say much. I'm not an economist, so I don't have strong opinions on the federal deficit and so forth. To a great extent, I don't think it matters greatly if the Democrats or Republicans hold the White House, because they tend to balance each other out. I take a long view on these sorts of things. I still do.

However, I do have strongly held beliefs that are impacted by what's going on. I believe that women are people first and female second, and that the key to women having personal and financial independence and equality is access to birth control and abortion. In fact, I believe all people are people first, and the rest - gender, sexual orientation, skin color, social status - all comes after that. I believe all people deserve to be treated as people, that some people don't get better perks than others, simply because of what family or set of genes they were born into.

I also believe that power and the pursuit of power corrupts.

If you've read my books, I suspect you'll know all of this about me because my beliefs come out in my work. That's my voice.

Social Media

The thing about social media is, we're trying to do two things at once: be our authentic selves and also promote our books. So, the theory that authors should stay away from controversial topics comes from the concern that offending readers could impact the perception and sales of our books.

Which, it could. It happens all the time. I do it myself. If I fundamentally disagree with an artist's beliefs and actions - Woody Allen comes to mind - I won't support them with my money. That's my vote and I get to do that. We all do.

Particularly in this day and age, social media is one of the primary avenues for authors to reach readers. However, as one smart literary agent, Jennifer Udden, says, "Social media is for promoting authors, not books."

And that brings us back to the sticking point. If social media is about the author, and the author's books are about their voice, and voice is about our beliefs - how can our social media presence NOT involve our beliefs?

It can be done, sure. As I said, I know some who can do it. One author friend of mine who steadfastly refuses to reveal her politics online commented to me, "Anyone who reads my books should be able to figure out where I stand." Some people, like her, are able to maintain a greater division between their public and private presence.

After long thought on the matter, I finally came to terms with the fact that this isn't me. I started out as a writer of personal essays and I've long had a greater degree of sharing my personal life and thoughts through my work. That's who I am. And it's important to me to be honest about who I am - which includes my beliefs - in a congruent way. That means in public or in private. I'm not willing to disguise those beliefs, which is what not ever commenting would amount to for me, particularly in favor of marketing my books.

In standing by my beliefs, I also accept that some people won't agree, and that they'll express that with their monetary vote. Perfectly legit. Ultimately it all comes down to personal choice.

It's probably something that's obvious by now, but - Personal choice is something I strongly believe in.










Saturday, February 18, 2017

Not Green With Jealousy

I pondered what to say for this post. Now I'm as human as the next person, but I really don't have pangs of professional (or any other) type of jealousy. I mean, come on, who doesn't envy the lucky guy or gal who happened to stop at a liquor store on the way home one night and ends up with the winning lotto ticket? And is now worth millions? OK, I can get green over that for about a nanosecond and then tear up my loser ticket and move on. It was fun daydream and someone has to win. More jackpots next week!

So I reverted to my old high school term paper techniques and looked up the meaning of "jealousy." According to Wikipedia: Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.

So here’s the thing – I write what I write. No one else writes my exact novels and I don’t write exactly what anyone else does. I’m on my own journey with my books (and the rest of my life). If someone else wins an award or becomes a Best Seller or gets a movie deal, that’s their journey and accomplishment and has nothing to do with me. I had no influence over it, no one asked me to be involved, they didn’t pick his or her book instead of mine (although I’m always happy to talk movie or TV rights – Hollywood, feel free to e mail me LOL!). Romance readers are voracious about wanting new books and more books – it’s not like they’ll buy Author X’s book and that means they’ll never buy one of mine too.

I don’t suffer “insecurity, fear, concern and anxiety” over these things. Did I do my best effort? Am I satisfied with what I produced? Were there positive lessons to be learned from someone else’s success or honor or award?

Would I love to have the success equivalent to J. K. Rowling for example? Heck yes! But only if I get there with writing my own books and because readers loved them.

In the scifi romance world, we like to think someone's book will be a big breakout some day, like Fifty Shades was for its genre. The book and the time and the zeitgeist and the stars will all be in alignment and ZINGO. Would I like to be THAT author? Oh YES. Will I feel some professional jealousy if it isn't me? Oh YES. Will I wallow in it and be afraid and anxious and all that other negative stuff? NO. Because if SFR breaks out big as a genre, I have my books right there, ready to be read by the hungry new readers of SFR. The world - the galaxy - is big enough for all of us who can write a good book. Which my readers tell me, I do and I love my readers so there you have it.


I don’t know what else to say so here’s some fun news – the cover for Star Cruise: Outbreak was selected by professional booksellers as Third Place Finalist in the Judge a Book By Its Cover contest (JABBIC) this week. My amazing cover artist is Fiona Jayde and I’m so happy to collaborate with her.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Navigating Professional Jealousy

When you hear about the new bar that doesn't do wimpy little dart boards - they have axe throwing lanes - you don't just go wandering around the city hoping to stumble across the bar. You get directions.

When you're engaged in a profession that matters to you and jealousy sweeps you, you're being given directions. You can ignore them and wallow in the deep unfairness of life, the universe, and everything, or you can collect the directions and alter your course.

I have this theory that jealousy gets a bad rap. You know the lists. Emotions get labeled positive and negative. We all know anger, jealousy, fear, blah, blah, Dark Side, right? Bull, says I. Nothing is negative until you do something that makes it so. I've climbed on this soapbox before, so I'll spare you the sermon. Instead, story:

I was working at a large Seattle-area software company. I made more money than I'd ever dreamed I could make. Sure, there were pagers that went off at 2AM and there were long nights spent trying to work out why some piece of code had gone sideways, but I had a boss I gladly worked hard for. If I had any inkling that something wasn't quite right, I choked it down. This was what success meant, right? Stable work, good people, and a great paycheck? Then the amazing boss was gone. In the space of a day, the landscape shifted. A dysfunctional mad man took his place. I swear this is not political allegory. This really happened. The new guy so messed up the team that the entire technical staff walked into the managing director's office one day to quit en masse. We didn't end up quitting - the managing director removed that boss. The thing about it was that the work drama made stark how miserable I was. And had been for longer than I'd allowed myself to admit. This was not how I wanted to spend my life. Didn't know what I did want - but I knew what I didn't.

So I undertook a process of figuring out where I belonged. The advice? Look to your jealousy. Every pang of envy, every twist of jealousy, every mental wail of 'why not me?' was to be noted down over the space of a month. More if need be. Then the data were compiled and mined for a common thread. It took weeks of looking at the data over and over and wondering why I couldn't work out what it had to say - but you can likely guess. The thread was there, waiting for me to pick it up: Story telling. Every single item on my list was, at its core, about telling stories. So here I am, driven to writing by the sign posts of jealousy turned to a purpose.

Occasionally, I have days where I'm envious of that paycheck I left behind. And there are days I see someone else get the accolade I imagine I want. But there's no stewing in that. No wallowing in the bitter dregs of wishing I had what someone else has earned. When the envy grabs you by the ribs and squeezes, it's time to look the monster dead in the eye and see what it has to tell you. No. Not the 'you're not good enough, smart enough, brave enough, whatever enough.' Those are lies. Stare it in the eye and find out exactly what it signifies. Are you really envious of the attention author A is receiving? Or are you awed by this person's productivity? (There are no wrong answers - there's only the right for you answer.) Once you know, you can begin shaping your work so it comes into line with what you want. Productivity, attention, a fancy car, whatever the object of your envy.

It's work. Both to pay strict attention to the signposts and to then steer by them. But when jealousy bites hard and deep, it's because it has a message for you. Do you listen?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Ugly Head of Professional Jealousy

So, with THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW just a few weeks away, now's the time when I've really got to put a tight rein on my own bad habits.
That bad habit is become obsessed with the other books that are coming out around now and how much attention is apparently being paid to them.  
Key word there: apparently.  Because I have learned that sometimes due to the circles I pay attention to, an upcoming book can seem to be The Thing Everyone Is Talking About, but in fact, it's really not being talked about much outside of those circles.
I still feel that swell of jealousy.  It's natural, it's human, and I try not to make too much of a thing.
But there are so many ways to drive yourself crazy with this.
So here's an example.  Any given month, there's going to be a few articles here in and there (where they talk about SFF books) about the books that are coming out that month.  There are the ones that just list ALL THE BOOKS, which is about 200ish per month.  And that's JUST the professionally, traditionally published ones.  That's just a list, though, so in many ways, it's little more than noise.  No one will notice your book on that list who wasn't already looking for it.  Helpful for completists, but little more.  
But then there are the curated lists, of about ten to twelve books coming out that month.  Ten to twelve of those 200ish books.  
Any given month, there will be about three titles that will be on ALL THE LISTS.  No matter what. The big dogs of the genre.   Then there will be about ten more which will take up five to seven slots on those lists.  If you've done your math, you can tell that can be the whole list, most of the time.  Those are the essentially, "These are the books everyone's talking about this month."  And then there's a couple wild card slots.  Right now, that's my zone-- getting named on a wild card.  
This makes getting on any of those curated lists a pleasant surprise.  But it also means I pay attention to a lot of those things in any given month I have a release.  So I notice what those essential books are, and oh, does it start to burn.
But I keep it in check.  In part, because I know I'm doing all right.  And also because I like having something to strive for.  The good thing about still being a wild card is it keeps my ego in check.  Sometimes, I think that's more important.

Hey, let's not forget that there's still a few weeks to pre-order THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW.  You're going to want to get your hands on this one as soon as you can.
Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, The Holver Alley Crew is the first novel of Maresca’s third interconnected series set in the fantasy city of Maradaine.
The Rynax brothers had gone legit after Asti Rynax's service in Druth Intelligence had shattered his nerves, and marriage and fatherhood convinced Verci Rynax to leave his life of thievery.  They settled back in their old neighborhood in West Maradaine and bought themselves a shop, eager for a simple, honest life. Then the Holver Alley Fire incinerated their plans. With no home, no shop, and no honest income—and saddled with a looming debt—they fall back on their old skills and old friends.
With a crew of other fire victims, Asti and Verci plan a simple carriage heist, but the job spirals out of control as they learn that the fire was no accident. Lives in Holver Alley were destroyed out of a sadistic scheme to buy the land.  Smoldering for revenge, burdened with Asti's crumbling sanity, the brothers lead their crew of amateurs and washouts to take down those responsible for the fire, no matter the cost.
Goodreads Page for THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW
Available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and more!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

5 Things Akin to Professional Jealousy

Yay me! I get to write about Jealousy on Valentine's Day! On this day of chocolates, wine, and optional companionship, here are...

5 Things Akin to Professional Jealousy:

1. Sharting. You can't help but feel it. Best for everyone if you deal with it in private.

2. Using the ice bath in the men's locker room. You come out looking smaller.

3. Swimming afoul of an alligator.  You'll either be motivated or consumed.

4. Vaping. Nobody is impressed and you look like a tool.

5. The flu. Keep your snot to yourself.  Eventually, you'll get over it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Get to cringing

So apparently I'm supposed to write about a moment of cringeworthy jealousy and what I did about  it.

Gotta be honest, I don't remember ever getting jealous. Calm down now, I'm not saying I haven't been jealous or that I won't get jealous, but as with a lot of negative emotions I do my best to shove that stuff off to the side.

Why? Because it does no one any good.

Focus on the positive. It's better for your mental and emotional health and better for your career.

Now don't misunderstand me, I LOVE a healthy sense of competition. I hear one of my buddies has sold a book and part of me is delighted, but if i haven't sold a book myself in a while, I don't get jealous, I just set my goals and aim to sell one just as quickly as I can.

I'm a mid-list author. I make a decent living. I'm hardly buying a mansion on a cliffside, much as I might like the view. I'm just plugging away.

but the thing is, I actually AM doing what I want to do for a living. I'm writing novels. I'm having a good time. My goals tend to be more along the lines of keeping that going.

A quote from Chris Golden, who  is one of the guys I admire, call friend and occasionally have a friendly competition with: "The rising tide lifts all boats." I agree with that philosophy. If four other authors are all doing well while writing the sort of Grimdark stuff that I write, then the genre is growing stronger. If I am doing my job correctly, I get to ride the crest of that wave. If I FAIL to do my job correctly, I better get my ass in gear and figure out what I'm doing wrong.


You hear people say not to look at the reviews? I agree, unless they are a balm for your possible jealous feelings. Here are a few that soothe me.


"Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he's writing in.  Well worth your time."
Seanan McGuire, NYT-Bestselling author of the Toby Daye and InCryptid series

“James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors, and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell.”
Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Snowblind

The Last Sacrifice is brilliant, devious, dark and compelling. This is epic fantasy at its very best. Highly recommended!”
Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of Kill Switch and Mars One"James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell."
– Christopher Golden, New York times bestselling author of Snowblind

"With The Last Sacrifice, James A. Moore has triumphed yet again, delivering a modern sword and sorcery tale to delight old and new fans of the genre.  With its intriguing premise, stellar cast of characters, and flavorful horror elements, this is damn good stuff."
– Bookwraiths
"This was a very good read."
– Purple Owl Reviews
"Epic fantasy at its best."
– Amanda J Spedding
“Grimdark as fuck!  So in a word “’GREAT’”.
– The Blogin’ Hobgoblin
"I liked The Last Sacrifice a great deal.  I’ve always enjoyed Moore’s work and don’t see that changing anytime soon.  He just keeps getting better.  Check this one out and see."
- Adventures Fantastic
"What's Moore to say? People fighting Gods? Bring it! This is a great addition to James A. Moore's line up."
- The Book Plank
"I love it. This is a story that turns the genre story arc on its head, mixes up the motives of heroes and villains, and muddies the waters of divine intervention. A fantastic, surprising start to a major new series."
- Beauty in Ruins
"I found The Last Sacrifice to be highly engaging, magical with a distinct grimdark feel and the world herein is richly imagined and cleverly wrought and brought to life. I can’t wait to read the sequel and I am now also eager to check out the other works by this author. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy."
– Cover 2 Cover
"I'd recommend this and I'll be keeping an eye out for the next one. More evil Grakhul/He-Kisshi action please Mr Moore!"
– Ribaldry's Books
"I was just turning pages as fast as my eyes could devour the words."
– On A Dark Stormy Review
“Moore has laid the groundwork for a trilogy that promises to be loaded with terrifically grim fantasy storytelling. I might even call it epic. There is a lot of swift, merciless violence in this book, mingled with an undercurrent of very welcome, if very dark, humor. All of it together takes me back to what made me giddy about epic fantasy way back when. I’d say I’m happy to be back, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word for a book packed with this much violent incident. Let’s say instead that I’m bloody satisfied.”
– Rich Rosell for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

To sum up, James throws in elements of horror, dark fantasy, low magic and some amazing world-building into this boiling mix that somehow seems to work. Spinning off the staid old genre story-lines into a new direction with this epic take on God versus Man, The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world. The lines between heroes and villains blur as Gods seek to end the world.--Smorgasbord Fantasia


The point of these quotes is to simply clarify that jealousy does no good.  It serves absolutely no positive notion. I do not covet my neighbor's wife (Though I have more than once thought a few of my neighbors were lucky so and so's). I do not covet my neighbor's book sales, either, i do my own thing and then I try to be the best at what I do. If I'm failing, cool, it gives me a goal to reach for. We should always have goals, my friends, because without them we risk stagnation. 

Jealousy is like anger, best used as a tool to improve and motivate yourself. That's my statement and I'm sticking to it.