Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Reviews 12 - The Heroic Point of View in Mass Market by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Reviews 12
The Heroic Point of View in Mass Market
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Does Fiction reflect "reality" -- or inflect "reality?" 

Does imbibing violent videogames make people do real violence?  Or just incline them to be vulnerable to that impulse? 

Does the statement of a Leader cause people to act as a Mob, with individuals surrendering their personal morality to a mob mentality? 

Are human beings ruled only by their emotional state, which is caused by external forces they can't resist, and thus must be forced into civilized social behavior, by persuasion, profit, or force of arms? 

What is a human being?  What makes us human?  How do we function inside ourselves as individuals?  How do we function when we form Groups -- do we surrender individuality in order to become socialized? 

The essence of story is conflict, and these questions bore down into a Conflict that can support a Mass Market Paperback sized audience -- and perhaps, even, a Feature Film size audience.

There are classic questions we've all heard and think we know our answers to, and then there are questions we can't ask because we lack the conceptual framework to pose them.  The second variety is the fodder of science fiction.

One such unthinkable question is whether there really is a link between cause and effect when it comes to things like videogames and violence, or Leadership and social order.  Do we really need leaders at all?  What for?  Why do we need them? 

What makes a Leader (a Hero of a novel is generally a Leader type even if not starting out in a Leadership Role) different from other people?  Nothing?  Everything?  What makes a King?  What makes a Champion (such as a Police Officer putting his life on the line to protect society?)

What causes one person to become a member of a herded group like "society" and another to become a Criminal or a Leader?  Is there a difference between Criminal Mentality and Leadership?  What of Revolutionary Leaders?  Are they just Criminals?  Does Humanity need Criminals?

Pick an answer (one single answer) to any one of those questions, and make it the theme of a world you build from scratch to illustrate that answer in the form of a statement. 

For example -- there is no link between cause and effect that can't be broken or altered by a) human Will, b) God's Will, c) random chance (Luck), d) some non-material Potency from Another Dimension. 

The link between cause and effect was established by Frances Bacon to be the foundation of operational, practical, useful "science."  That notion of such a link is traceable back to the Hellenistic philosophers, Plato, Aristotle.



Suppose Bacon had never existed.  Would some other human have come up with these Ideas?  Would the Idea have been conceptualized but never popularized?  Would it have been kept as a "Secret" by some secret magical society that wanted power over people? 

Suppose Plato and Aristotle had never existed?  Suppose various fragments of their Ideas had been propounded by say, a Chinese Philosopher -- or maybe someone born and raised in Tahiti or Madagascar? 

Rewrite the history of philosophy and you rewrite human history.

The history of philosophy and how refuted and discarded ideas leave their traces on modern society (just as malware removed by a security program leaves traces in your Windows Register) is a study that all writers, fiction or non-fiction, need to understand.

Just as a Windows computer will stutter, crash, and malfunction because of Register issues, so will human societies that are running a Philosophy with fragments of alien Philosophy stuck in the operating system.

Human individuals, likewise, have life-issues because of conflicting fragments of opposed Philosophies (and Religion is Philosophy by my definition).  You see it in (non-clinical) depression, road rage, divorce rate, job boredom, and general dissatisfaction with life in general.  Mass Market Paperback sized audiences can easily relate to a Hero who is fighting an inconsistency inside himself that he sees reflected in his world.

For example, your Hero might set out to fix an injustice in Society, never intending to become Vice President of the USA (seeing becoming President as a disaster not advancement), but because of moderate success at fixing the world, find himself the only candidate with enough support to get elected.

That's the Situation Gini Koch is dealing with in her Alien Series that I've recommended to you so many times.  The latest are UNIVERSAL ALIEN and ALIEN SEPARATION which is due out in May 2015. 



The series is Mass Market original, and is composed of a vast array of thematic elements (you need a vast array to support long series of long books) that are vastly popular with general readerships.  There are Gaming elements driving the plot in a subtle way.  There is the hottest human/alien Romance I've seen in action Science Fiction recently. There are Alien physiological quirks, and worm-hole-dwelling people and animals from another dimension -- whose works appear to be Magic.  But most of all there are two Heroic Characters each with a separate story, and each sharing a part of a story -- hence marriage is not "the end" but the beginning of the plot which drives all the stories.

And their kid is a complication.

The thematic work behind these characters and their stories is seamless and appears effortless -- which tells me how hard the writer and editors worked on these novels.  There are a lot of themes, and a lot of these philosophical questions about "reality" each represented by a Character with a Story. 

And here in Universal Alien, we have the introduction of Alternate Universes and doppelgangers for the Main Characters.  This novel illustrates how a Character would be different in a different world where the left-over fragments of Philosophy clogging their minds were different.  The "person" is the same; yet the differences are stark and well drawn.

This novel is worth studying in depth as you attempt to build a world around your own pet un-askable Question, the Idea you can't grasp because of some left-over fragments of a previous Philosophy. 

If you understand where these fragments came from, you can construct Science Fiction Romance worlds which reveal underlying fallacies in our modern world. 

That's what science fiction does best -- ask the questions that are literally unthinkable in the audience's society.  If you don't understand the links between left-over fragments, you will not be able to frame the question clearly.  However, your understanding of origins and connections among Ideas does not have to be conscious to be effective on the scale demanded for Mass Market Distribution.

Here's a novel that demonstrates a way of depicting the Heroic individual as a Champion. 



Jesse James Dawson is a "champion" who extricates humans from Possession by demons (creatures from another dimension; possibly theological or maybe not).  He has his own complex backstory and current life, with wife, kids and a stake in the ordinary world.  But a demon has sort-of befriended him, and bedevils him in his own back yard (over chess).  This demon "uses" him in the version of the Great Game played by Devil and Demons, and all their political factions with various destabilizing the human world type goals.

This is an action-novel with magical battles and bloody ones, too.  The Characters take damage, and they hurt both physically and emotionally.  The action gets "personal." 

Jesse James Dawson is a good example of a Hero beset by a situation where the only way out is to do what he simply can not do (not will not; can not).

That's the classic definition of a Conflict.

"I must do what I can not do."  and/or "I can't do what I must do because I have to do what I can't do." 

Take a Character with a "backstory" growing up that leaves bits and pieces of incompatible Philosophy (example: raised by a Fire&Brimstone Preacher, runaway to a life of Prostitution; now wants to marry a Soul Mate), and give that character a problem that can't be solved without expunging the last bits of the repudiated Philosophy that the Character has no clue reside in subconscious and dictate behavior.

Read these novels to extract the underlying framework of the novel, then create your own Theme and insert it into the framework -- watch how everything morphs.  That's not "a formula" -- but it produces a "line" or imprint of books that readers can rely on to deliver the same punch.

That's the definition of "Mass Market" -- or as Hollywood puts it, "The Same But Different."  The writer has to deliver the same, familiar, punch at the end, but use material that's entirely different. 

Science Fiction does that with Themes that pose the Unthinkable Question and postulate an even more Unthinkable Answer.  There are thousands of answers to any of those questions, and millions of such questions.  There is nothing even remotely similar about Mass Market novels -- yet they are all identical.

Readers pay a lot for books, or get smelly copies second hand, or borrow from the library, or wait for it to come up free on Kindle -- so readers want to be certain before they start reading that the punch they are paying for will be delivered.  But they also don't want the, "I've read this book before," feeling.

Writers achieve that Mass Market appeal from their understanding (conscious or unconscious) of Philosophy and/or Religion and/or Science -- a "take" on the way the world works. 

Philosophy can be defined just as Plato's thought-structure,

But as I mentioned above, the way I use the word Philosophy, as pertaining to the eternal questions and our subjective answers.  Who am I?  Why am I here? What do I want to do about that?  Do I have a Soul?  (Jesse James Dawson is fighting the "Devil" for possession of Souls given away by signing a contract in Blood) - if I have a Soul, what do I need it for? 

"Silly" Fantasy novels -- or HEA Romances nobody believes are realistic, but they are! -- ask that sort of Question, and pose usable answers that might work only for a given Individual.

I did that with my first Award Winning novel, Unto Zeor, Forever.  The questions the Main Character (Digen Farris) wrestles with, runs away from, turns and confronts, are hard questions he eventually articulates.  The answers he settles on are useful only to him -- in his unique position.



Unto Zeor, Forever is in Audiobook (at Audible.com ) and new paperback (old Hardcover, a couple old Mass Market Paperbacks) and e-book.  Some bloggers have sited this novel as one of the original Science Fiction Romance novels -- prior to its first publication, SFR was not saleable in Mass Market. 

Having written a book of this sort, based on the unthinkable Questions, I recognize that process when I see it in other novels, and I recognize how difficult these novels are to write.  I can tell when a novel has nailed it.  I can see how you can learn from reading these as I learned from older novels.

The typical Mass Market Paperback hero or heroine (in Romance Novels, Action Romance, Erotic Romance, or Paranormal Romance etc) simply does not have time to ask and answer such questions during the novel.

Character is rooted in the questions and answers your Heroic character asked and found operational answers to during their childhood.  The Conflict is constructed from the Character's unconscious assumptions that the Character has in common with your target readership.

By revealing the "backstory" of a character, the writer is making a thematic statement (thus the character back-stories must illustrate the overall theme of the Work).  The most fundamental thematic statement is made about the Nature vs. Nurture controversy.

If the theme is that all humans are simply the product of forces external to their personality and character, that you are a helpless victim of your Nature and/or Nurture, then the backstory of the Main Character reveals how his/her origins are now shaping the character's present predicament and choices.

Generally speaking, the Heroic Main Character has a backstory at complete odds ( in conflict with ) their present predicament.

"Story" is generally defined as the point in a character's life when his/her Life changes or pivots to a new direction.  (Astrologers: Saturn and Pluto transits signify such events, thus the time-span the novel plot covers is determined by which transit is focusing the energies).

I'm using the definition of Story and Plot that I've been using in all these writing craft posts.  The Story is the sequence of changes the Main Character's personality undergoes because of Events; the Plot is the sequence of Events that impact the Character and trigger personality changes.

Thus Story and Plot are mirror images of each other, and each is shaped from the Thematic Statement the work is making. 

Here is an example of The Great Game in 4 novels set in the Contemporary world -- spanning the Middle East and involving Russia, China, and all the Muslim countries.  I enjoyed these novels because they are so very well constructed, and very well written.  They have a couple of pivotal Love Stories but the Main Character does not reshape his world view or alter his course of action because of the influence of his Soul Mate -- at least not in the early novels.  It seems like he's going to have to clean out some decayed Assumptions about Life and his Identity once he understands he's encountered his Soul Mate.  If this writer, Dan Mayland, doesn't do it -- maybe you will.

These are in Kindle, audiobook, and paper and agented by a man who used to be my agent -- which could be why I enjoyed them.

http://www.amazon.com/Colonels-Mistake-Mark-Sava-Novel-ebook/dp/B006ZNA0RE/

http://www.amazon.com/Leveling-Mark-Sava-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00A27761M/

http://www.amazon.com/Hire-Mark-Sava-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00DOKCKQU/

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Mark-Sava-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00N2ZXB74/

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Consensus Wealth

I recently reread most of the novels in Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January mystery series, set in New Orleans around the 1830s (beginning with A FREE MAN OF COLOR). In a later book of the series, Benjamin and his wife suffer dire financial loss in the bank collapses of that period. That plot element reminded me of how the value of money depends on our mutually agreed belief in its value.

There's an incident in Heinlein's TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE, when Lazarus Long works as the banker in a frontier-like town on a colonized planet, where he burns a batch of paper money (after recording the serial numbers) because storing too much in the bank presents a theft hazard. The other character in the scene is horrified, since he doesn't grasp that dollar bills aren't wealth in themselves, only a portable representation of wealth. The value of money is grounded in consensus reality, not anything objectively "real."

In an early scene in S. M. Stirling's DIES THE FIRE, when civilization starts to collapse because all advanced technology has instantaneously stopped working, one of the protagonists gathers a group of her friends to lead them to a place of refuge. Before setting out, they stock up at a local store. She feels a bit guilty for accepting food and other valuable items in exchange for bills and coins, because she understands—as the storekeeper does not—that within a few days money will become worthless.

In the early history of what we know as money, it consisted of coins made from "precious" metals or other substances rare enough to be considered valuable. Users had an objective way of determining whether the "true" value matched the claimed value, because a coin could be tested to reveal contamination with base metals. Eventually paper money and other devices for exchanging wealth without carrying heavy coins all the time were invented. Bankers issued promissory notes; merchants bore letters of credit from one city to another. The first paper money ("banknotes") was issued by individual banks, as illustrated in Barbara Hambly's series. When Benjamin January's bank failed, no other institutions would recognize money issued by it as valid. Paper money printed and backed by the government obviously represented an improvement in financial stability. Then we got credit cards, so that a buyer didn't have to use cash at all in many situations. (As a child, I thought buying something with a card meant you didn't have to pay for it. Alas, some adults actually use their plastic as if that's what it means.) Now we can pay for material goods in a purely digital mode, by transmitting our credit card numbers electronically. Wealth has become rarefied, almost imaginary.

I can enter numbers on Amazon and receive a package a few days later. The money represented by those numbers flowed from the government (Social Security and military pension) into our bank account, from our bank to the credit card issuer (via checks I write for payments, which I could also do with ones and zeroes online if I chose), and from American Express to Amazon, without a cent of cash changing hands at any point. The process feels magical, almost miraculous. It illustrates what a tremendous amount of faith our system depends on. Of course, the down side of this miracle is that we've had our most-used credit card's account number changed at least three times within the past few years because it keeps getting hacked, even though the cards have never left our possession. Thanks to computers, fraud artists don't need the physical plastic to steal from a card holder. They simply run a program to try a series of numbers at random until they hit one that works.

Will the often-predicted cashless society ever come into existence? We have that capability now. Some people, I hear, use debit cards for everything, even coffee at Starbuck's. I don't think cash will become obsolete in the foreseeable future, though. Even now, not everybody has credit cards, some (such as the homeless) don't have bank accounts, and we'll probably always need tangible money for casual exchanges between individuals.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World Part 12 - Marketing To The Young

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Part 12
Marketing To The Young
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

The Index post with links to the previous parts of this series is:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/05/index-to-marketing-fiction-in-changing.html

Facebook has gained the reputation for being the venue of the old fogies, while younger people seek other social networks. 

On Twitter, a #scifichat topic brought up this post on comics for 7 year old girsl:

http://www.itinthed.com/16328/what-taking-my-daughter-to-a-comic-book-store-taught-me/

We'll reference that comics issue in Part 13 of this series.  Now let's look at what the adults are discussing on Facebook. 

A question popped up on Facebook in the Allan Cole's World Group:

https://www.facebook.com/peggy.brunyansky  posted this question:
----------QUOTE-------------
This semester, I gave my students a list of songs that had a history behind them. They were to research the songs and explain that history among other things. I used "Abraham, Martin and John," "It is Well with my Soul," "Imagine," and a number more. I will add "Fortunate Son" next semester. Does anyone have suggestions of songs to add to my list?
-----------END QUOTE---------

Allan Cole recommended IN FLANDERS FIELD
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkKEynoTwp8

Whereupon a lively discussion ensued that ranged across centuries of history and drew me in.

My first answer:

https://www.facebook.com/jacqueline.lichtenberg

--------QUOTE----------
Nichevo -- an "old Russian Folk Song" written specifically for the film Fraulein and sung in that film by Theodore Bikel (who later recorded it) who knows quite a few real Russian Folk Songs and did a marvelous job of faking the reality of the Hollywood-originated brand-new-old-traditional-folk-song. He tells the story on a concert-album - BRAVO BIKEL, and I finally found the movie on Amazon.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bravo-bikel-theodore-bikel/id898873818
 That album is a history lesson and a half all by itself.
--------END QUOTE-------

Then Peggy answered me:

------QUOTE---------
Neat. I love sneaking in a little history and literature when students aren't expecting it. ...
---------END QUOTE-----------

Which inspired me -- meanwhile, others were posting very interesting comments about what songs to include.

So I added some more clues:

Lay down a breadcrumb trail through IMDB.COM to Broadway Musicals (like FIDDLER) back and back to the Theodore Bikel AUTOBIOGRAPHY titled THEO -- which tells the tale of his escaping Vienna (he's 90 in 2014) right before the blast of WWII, pioneering in Israel, Studying theater in London, just a goshwow tale in evocative prose written by a master raconteur. His career takes you all the way to musicals on Broadway, then movies and then TV. (Yiddish Theater - get his Yiddish album).

The grabber for modern students though is that Theodore Bikel played 2 parts on Star Trek - my favorite as Warf's human adopted father. Make them learn to use IMDB.COM and teach about inter-corporate ownerships -- Amazon, IMDB, GOODREADS, audible.com, (it's an education in Business Model of Entertainment Industry) and what it means "Voice Talent" other than singing.

That opens the topic of the remake of the music distribution system. There are few examples of actors students KNOW whose life-history in music goes back past 1929. Theo makes it easy to learn history with his exquisitely written (he's a WRITER, too) autobiography. You've got to read it to believe it. I've read a lot of them and I've never read one this good.
http://www.amazon.com/Theo-Autobiography-Theodore-Bikel/dp/0299300544/

-----------END QUOTE------------

Do you see the depths of worldbuilding techniques you can learn by reading autobiographies? 

Track which companies own which, look at corporate decisions and they won't be so mystifying when you know what they're trying to do to you (yes, TO you).

Last year, we had a major hack of Sony.  Will that be in your autobiography?

I asked Peggy if I could excerpt her assignment and my answers for this blog entry.  She replied:

--------QUOTE----------
Jacqueline, you are welcome to do so. I am so pleased that you like the assignment. My students do too and, as their first assignment, it eases them into research and citations as well as sneaking in a mini-history lesson. They tell me they enjoy the class more than they anticipated.
-----------END QUOTE---------

Many popular songs of the past are Romances -- as this discussion revealed.  Many are political rabble-rousers, too -- but Romance is there.  And many very popular actors of the past are associated with such Romantic songs from Broadway to Hollywood. 

Making a poem like In Flanders' Field or other such commemoratives into a "song" in your novel could give you a marketing tool as part of a video promo on YouTube.  Now you might have to write the song and coerce someone you know into recording it -- margins for such productions promoting a novel are very slim, but there are many unexplored possibilities. 

People who have been through Peggy's course may be both the source and the audience for such an effort.

Soon, we will discuss some more innovative developments in the field of Romance Genre publishing.  

For now, consider the potential of music as a component of Worldbuilding.  Remember how famous Spock's Vulcan instrument became?  Nimoy even made an LP album of songs (on Vinyl and some now digital
http://www.amazon.com/Spaced-Out-Leonard-William-Shatner/dp/B000W223QU/
) mostly because of that quick scene on TV. 

Today television rarely does that to an actor's career, but YouTube does. 

Go where your audience is, express what they're feeling with all the tools at your disposal that are not at their disposal because they aren't professional writers who study the craft all day every day. 

The ability to express an emotion with precision is a hard-honed talent that has become a rare skill.  You can trace that kind of development if you follow the career of Theodore Bikel.  And as I've recommended before, read all the Allan Cole autobiographical works. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

   

Depiction Part 8 - Which Comes First, Friendship, Support or Trust? by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Depiction Part 8
Which Comes First, Friendship, Support or Trust?
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

The previous parts of the Depiction Series are:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-1-depicting-power-in.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-2-conflict-and-resolution.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-3-internal-conflict-by.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/12/depiction-part-4-depicting-power-in.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/01/depiction-part-5-depicting-dynastic.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/02/depiction-part-6-depicting-money-and.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/02/depiction-part-7-using-media-to-advance.html

Are these three emotional plot-drivers related? 

That's the key question to ponder, and the answer you choose (which can be different for each novel you write) will form the core of the theme of that novel.  You are "depicting" an intangible, a philosophical position about the nature of human emotion, and human (and/or non-human) bonding.

In Romance genre, friendship isn't necessary for a sexual relationship which can blaze so bright that trust and support are obscured. 

But in novels (even those published as Romance genre, or one of the hybrid genres), which take a more balanced point of view, friendship, trust, and support are a continuum which can lead to a sexual relationship, but don't have to.

This continuum was popularized first by STAR TREK fanfic (yes, I'm guilty of that kind of writing, too -- http://simegen.com/fandom/startrek/  ) but you see it all over a wide spectrum of genres today. 

Catherine Asaro's Skolian Empire is a case in point, where galactic events are driven by family Relationships.  And it, too, has generated fanfic
http://simegen.com/fandom/skolianempire/index.html

Trust is the least difficult of the spectrum of Relationships to achieve.  One doesn't have to like someone to trust them.  One needs only a firm and dependable understanding of a person's motivations to trust them to perform as expected, even if that means committing crimes.

Thus one does not even have to respect someone to trust they will misbehave. 

Worse, if one dislikes a person, one may support their misbehavior in order to hasten punishment.  Perhaps a devious character might support misbehavior in order to achieve a goal -- being absolutely certain the misbehavior will occur with the correct stimulus.

So trust is easy to achieve, and does not imply that the trusted is righteous.

Likewise, support isn't always to the advantage of the supported.  Support can be a potent weapon against the supported. 

Friendship is a bond of a different sort.  Very often, one befriends a character for reasons that are unclear to the befriender. 

Sometimes, help and/or support may be offered just because there seems to be a need, and the world would be better off if that need were fulfilled.

The one who is helped may respond by offering friendship, which may be accepted.

The general rule is when something is done three times in a row, it becomes a fixed behavior.  So friendship reinforced between characters three times will be taken by readers to mean the friendship is very real, and very meaningful, if not unbreakable.

Friendship does not always lead to sexuality.  Romance Genre, with all its variations such as Vampire Romance, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction Romance such as I write is particularly suited to exploring the varieties of friendship that do (or do not) lead to a sexual relationship.

There is a theory of psychology that says all such friendships are driving the pair toward some sort of sexual expression -- that sexuality is what drives humans and all human relationships.

And there are other theories that say this is not exactly true.

Long before Star Trek, science fiction explored the way a telepath might form Relationships with other telepaths and with non-telepaths.  Adding that dimension to a Relationship, and to sexuality, opens whole new vistas for fiction in general.

The most recent exploration of that which I've discovered is by Alex Hughes in her Mindspace Investigations series.
http://amazon.com/Clean-Mindspace-Investigations-Alex-Hughes-ebook/dp/B007P7HP1I/

There are now four novels in this Telepath/non-Telepath Love Story.  I call it a Love Story rather than a genuine Romance because there's so much going on that isn't romance or relationship -- but none of that would ever have happened had it not been for the Romance underlying all the events. 

Friendship does lead to Love, but love doesn't always lead to sex.  Still, in Mindspace Investigations, we have a telepath consultant for the police and a career police officer who both wreck their careers upon encounter with Organized Crime (big bucks variety).  With this kind of telepathy, sex will produce a lifetime Bond, and neither of them is really ready for that (yet). 


I give the Mindspace Investigations series by Alex Hughes my highest recommendation, and urge you to read at least the first novel, CLEAN.


Hughes depicts a plausible future, with some very solid extrapolation, then adds a historical war between A.I. intelligence and humanity during which those with ESP Talents step forward and win the day for humanity.  A treaty with humanity was created to allow those with Ability to govern themselves and guard against A.I. re-emergence.  Like all bureaucracy, it eats the best people alive.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Diet And Medicine (And Alien Romance)

When I started writing "Forced Mate" in 1993, I consciously made my half-human heroine a mostly plant-based nutritionist, and an amateur herbalist. She did eat fish; there is a breakfast scene where she consumes kedgeree.

If I were starting the series today, she would be totally vegan, and her diet would follow recommendations of scientists such as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. My reasoning was, my heroine had non-human internal organs which would almost certainly be misunderstood by human doctors, therefore, though her lifestyle and diet, she self-medicated and prevented most maladies.

In "Insufficient Mating Material", I had an entirely alien Djinn heroine who suffered mildly from a suspected food allergy when she was exiled to another planet.

I have a coven of three more half-alien-Djinn heroines on a back-burner, and I think that I will make them strict vegans. It's not an easy diet, especially at first, particularly if one must eschew all oils, even for frying onions or anything else that cooks in a frying pan. (One uses hummus --provided one is not allergic to seeds-- or wine, or honey-mustard, or water, or applesauce.)

In writing this, it occurs to me that on the Ronald Tobias checklist, three misfit heroines probably should be eased into a Quest type novel.... I have to stop and think about that. Generally, I prefer to combine at least two "types" into one novel.

My best wishes,
Rowena Cherry


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nanotech for Healing

Research is under way to design nanoparticles that will be injected into the human bloodstream for treatment of hardening of the arteries. They can potentially detect blockages and even help the arteries to heal themselves. Here's one article on this technique:

Nanoparticles

This kind of therapy foreshadows—even though still a long way from—the super-powerful nanotechnology in Lynsay Sands's Argeneau Family vampire series. Her vampire clan originated in ancient Atlantis, where scientists created "nanos" to bestow longevity and perpetual health on the experimental subjects by continuously healing all damage to the body. Effectively, the treatment has transformed these people into a new subspecies of humanity. The miracle cure works, continuously repairing the effects of disease, injury, and age. As an unforeseen side effect, however, a person infected with the nanos has to consume blood to replace the resources used up by the healing process. Furthermore, the submicroscopic particles interpret the effects of ultraviolet radiation as damage, so that the longer an Argeneau immortal is exposed to sunlight, the more blood he or she needs. Fortunately, Sands's immortals have adjusted well to their condition and, with the availability of bagged blood, lead fulfilling lives without having to harm anyone. If you haven't read her amusing, lively, sensual vampire romances, do try them.

Could a similar experimental program—nanotechnology designed for healing or explicitly to "improve" the human race, raging out of control—be the origin of the Sime-Gen mutation?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Depiction Part 7: Using the Media to Advance Plot by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Depiction Part 7
Using the Media to Advance Plot
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Remember, this  blog is about blending Science Fiction with Romance and applying top writing craft skills to the resulting blend to produce a genre-defining novel.

So this is about science fiction thinking, extrapolation, imagination, and writing craft. 

Below you will find links to previous posts on Depiction and the link to the news article that explains what writers must know to use the Media to advance plot -- to deliver crucial but flawed or incomplete information to a character at a critical moment (which can be months or years after the event depicted in the news story.) 

Such a story can be about some Event that a parent or relative of one of your main characters was involved in, and family tradition tells it in a totally different way, shedding a different light than the "official" story, or the media spun story.

I found this one article up a side-creek I generally don't pay attention to -- but there is a writing lesson in this real world explanation of how things work.  And there's potential for a hot-romance embedded in the argument (conflict) between the two characters who are Soul Mates but object to each others' stances on these matters.

Take, for example, two reporters working for different outlets in different markets, nosing around in the field where a complex interstellar collision of cultures is taking place. 

Each reporter has different knowledge of human history, and different religious or spiritual upbringing, and exposure to different professions of their parents.

Each is convinced they reported what really happened in a particular incident and sent it in to their publisher.  Each knows that they pegged the reasons why it happened accurately, but their accounts differ markedly. 

Then their editors change what each said -- maybe into what the other actually wrote, maybe into something totally unrelated, whatever the editor thinks will sell subscriptions to their outlet. 

Now the two reporters are covering an Event that is a consequence of the Event they each covered.  Something happens.  They are isolated together and in danger as well as on the clock, with deadlines of all kinds competing for priority.

Use the following Article to create the issues, procedures and details this couple-to-be is fighting over. 

This article below delineates something I know is true from a) my upbringing in a news profession family, b) my acquired knowledge of business models, c) my skill in writing craft and d) my direct analysis of reporting in various countries that we NOW have access to via the internet and web-radio. 

But few are raised in a family like mine where both parents are in the news game during war.

Today it is easy to compare the narrative crafted for say England's audience with that same story told to a USA audience and see how editorial crafting is done. 

Just follow me on Flipboard to see some of that narrative in collected news stories.

https://flipboard.com/profile/jacquelinelhmqg

One of the cardinal rules of screenwriting is to keep the media out of the story, but in novels I generally include items that move the plot quickly when they appear before a character's eyes via a news network. 

Creating a plot-moving news item that doesn't side-track your Romance or Action plot is easy once you grasp the principle explained in this article and apply it to the World you have Built for your story so it evokes "verisimilitude" for your readers.  Here's an index post with links to more on verisimilitude.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/04/index-to-theme-worldbuilding.html

This article below DEPICTS our modern media in a way a writer can grasp and use to DEPICT a futuristic media business.  All you need is to advance communications, introduce robotics, and draw your depiction on a galactic or interplanetary civilization's scale, then focus down on your prime couple.

All the previous posts on Depiction still apply - but now add the "forbidden" dimension of the media news reporting. 

The previous parts of the Depiction Series are:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-1-depicting-power-in.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-2-conflict-and-resolution.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-3-internal-conflict-by.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/12/depiction-part-4-depicting-power-in.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/01/depiction-part-5-depicting-dynastic.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/02/depiction-part-6-depicting-money-and.html

And the article to absorb and use is:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/12/01/former-ap-reporter-strikes-again-with-new-instances-of-stories-ignored-by-his-former-employer-about-israel/

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taming "The Taming of the Shrew"

Did you see the "Shakespeare Uncovered" programs shown on PBS last Friday? Each show explores the issues posed by a different Shakespeare play as viewed through the eyes of famous actors. Last week featured OTHELLO and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. (This coming Friday's episodes will analyze ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA and ROMEO AND JULIET.) Much of the discussion centered on the difficulty of redeeming THE TAMING OF THE SHREW for modern audiences. It's true enough, as mentioned in the commentary, that this play foreshadows every romantic comedy starring two strong-willed people who start out unable to stand each other and fight their way to a passionate relationship. And Katherine really is presented as insufferable at the beginning of the story. She treats Bianca, her meek, conventionally lovely and demure sister, with violence that goes beyond sibling rivalry.

But—the modern audience is apt to think Kate has some excuse, considering the attitude her father and all the other men in the vicinity take toward her. If she and Petruchio appear equally fierce and feisty, still, in that culture his authority as her husband creates an inescapable power imbalance. And the only possible justification (in our eyes) for his treatment of her, that she's getting a taste of her own abuse of Bianca, is undercut by the sheer brutality of his "taming" program. He deprives her of food, clothes, and sleep. He "gaslights" her, insisting that she call the sun the moon and an old man a fair maiden. To Shakespeare's credit, at least Petruchio never inflicts physical violence on Kate. Yet in real life, nowadays, we'd label his controlling behavior domestic abuse. To the people of his time, a "scolding" wife (i.e., one who talked too much or too loudly by the standards of the men in her life) was funny and the "punishment" of a scolding wife even funnier. Cultural changes have made it impossible for us to regard the marriage of Petruchio and Kate that way.

So much of our readiness to accept their falling in love depends on the way the stars perform their roles. When we see two different actors deliver a speech by Petruchio claiming absolute ownership of his wife, one man sounds implacable, almost menacing. The other actor makes the same lines sound bawdy and seductive.

C. S. Lewis, situating the play in the context of its era's beliefs about the proper order of the universe, the superiority of male to female, and the authority of husband over wife, maintains that Shakespeare intends Kate's climactic speech of submission to be taken completely straight, not "tactical or ironic." Most modern readers or viewers can accept that speech from her only if we hear it as "tactical," or, as one of the commentators on the PBS show suggested, Petruchio and Katherine are in "collusion" at that point. We would like to see the couple as negotiating their own separate peace within their society's view of marital relationships. (And note that she doesn't say a husband deserves his wife's obedience because their roles demand it; she says it's because he works hard to take care of her.) Or has the "taming" developed into a game between them, in which she's decided to humor him? If played a certain way, however, the comedy could turn into nightmare fuel; we could see Kate as submitting because she's terrified of her crazy husband.

So can this comedy be rehabilitated as a love story from our viewpoint?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Guest Post by Alan Dean Foster

Guest Post
by
Alan Dean Foster

This week we have a guest post by Alan Dean Foster, written specifically for this blog. 

Foster is one of the foremost writers of science fiction whose entire body of work I highly recommend, especially if you are determined to give your Romance the texture and feel of rip-roaring-adventure-science-fiction. 

Here's his Page on Amazon.

Alan Dean Foster's Page

Note that he has done the movie novelization of ALIEN, the Star Wars book SPLINTER OF THE MIND'S EYE and the novelization STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and other famous STAR TREK items you will delight to discover.

Chances are good you already know his work, but didn't notice the byline. 

Follow that byline!  You are going to love this writer if you're just discovering him.  Please discover him!  

Foster has done over a hundred books, spread over a wide variety of styles, settings, and story types.  You will definitely find something among them to learn and incorporate into your own work -- and just incidentally have a ball doing the reading.

Here is a wikipedia page that gives a hint of how large, and how popular, Alan Dean Foster's long-running novel series, The Adventures of Pip and Flinx, set in the Humanx Universe has been.

This page also gives a lot more reasons why a Romance writer who is worldbuilding a unique galactic civilization should study Alan Dean Foster's work carefully.  Note the scope and depth of the Adventures of Pip and Flinx illustrated on this wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanx_Commonwealth

Bookmark that and come back after reading some of the novels. 

And here are some of the Pip and Flinx novels in a wide variety of formats:

Adventures of Pip and Flinx by Alan Dean Foster

In November 2014, Alan Dean Foster had major re-release to grab and put on your Must Read list.

This one is titled QUOZL. 



Quozl is a quirky, humor-filled romp that asks deep philosophical questions even as it gives readers much to laugh about. In Quozl, rabbit-like aliens (that, of course, have a procreation problem) plan to colonize planet Earth, only to find that there are sentient creatures already living there: humans.

Quozl is the kind of book you can read to your kids, or read beside them, and discuss, even reference while watching some TV show that brings up one or another of the philosophical points.  Can you imagine laughing over philosophy? 

That's yet another reason I became a Foster fan.  As I've talked a lot about theme on this blog, and how "theme" is a distilled philosophical point, you know it is both the reason people read novels, and the reason people write novels. 

Also the Pip and Flinx novels are set in the Humanx Commonwealth where a symbiotic relationship between human and alien is woven into the sub-structure of the worldbuilding, appearing on the surface with the smooth, natural, manifestation that gives the work a sense of realism.  You know how I work with symbiotic relationships in my novels.  Foster does it better than I do.

Way back before publishers allowed Romance and Science Fiction to be mixed into each other, a few writers (Alan Dean Foster included) began threading bits and pieces of one into the other.  That just whetted the readers' appetite for more mixed genre.

My own work began with an exploration of how a character's major Relationships could alter the plot-dynamics of a Science Fiction Action/Adventure at about the time Foster was writing for the Animated STAR TREK series. 

Alan Dean Foster was one man who took Relationships into account in his novels - though rarely a Soul Mate Romance, still illustrating the elegant mechanics of weaving Relationship into Action.  His characters always had Soul even when not finding a Mate.

I think that's why I first became a fan of his work.  He shows how fiction should be written.

As science fiction writers first laced their work with Love Stories and real Romance, concurrently Romance writers began setting their stories in near and far-future venues with Aliens, Space Travel, and kickass heroines.

It has taken decades to bring the strengths of these two fields together.  Now listen to a Master who has brought Science Fiction closer to Romance, then go explore his works and see how it was done.   The handy new release of QUOZL (who but Alan Dean Foster could get away with a title like that?) might be a good place to start.

------------FROM ALAN DEAN FOSTER----------

      If these "rabbits" have a procreation problem, what do they think of humans who prize fidelity in marriage and spend every waking hour before marriage seeking a soul mate? 

      Ah, the Quozl. Their answer to the question posed by Alien Romances is straightforward enough. They would take one look at human society and say that humans don’t “spend every waking hour before marriage seeking a soul mate.” They’d study, ponder and determine immediately that human females spend every waking hour before marriage seeking a soul mate. While human males spend every waking hour before marriage seeking sex. Two entirely different objectives. The Quozl would argue that human males, or at least the younger, more immature version (which includes all human males) stumble accidentally into their soul mates, whereas human females are engaged in actively seeking life partners. Partly this is due to culture, and partly to genetic imperatives. Female mammals nurture and raise offspring. The males simply create them. 
      The Quozl have developed ways to restrict, if not entirely halt, their far more powerful urge to reproduce. Even so, they are constantly seeking to expand their habitat to accommodate their increasing population. Hence their one-way journeys to pre-selected inhabitable worlds. Including an already (unfortunately for them) inhabited Earth. It is to be hoped, should a species like the Quozl arrive, they might bring with them a few useful pointers on how we might control our own population and our own still primitive urges. They might even help to mature the males.
      I love romance, but my writing inclines more to the exploration of worlds than the exploration of feelings. You all know that the quickest way to drive a guy away is to say, “Tell me how you’re feeling.” But I do try. I did consciously try to write an SF romance once, and it became the novelette THE SHORT, LABORED BREATH OF TIME. The protagonist is a man who dies every day and wakes up anew each new morning, never knowing when or how he’s going to perish. Only that he will be resurrected afresh the next day.
      Of course someone falls in love with him.
      But as they say, that’s another story.
-----------------END QUOTE-----------     

But if rabbit like Aliens don't appeal to you -- try Spellsinger.  But no matter what, don't miss out on The Adventures of Pip and Flinx. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Thursday, February 05, 2015

More Than Five Senses

Here's an article listing the many sensory systems human beings have beyond the classic "five":

More Than Five Senses

"Touch," for example, is far from a simple, unified sense. We have separate nerves for temperature, itching, pressure, and pain. I do think it's a stretch, though, to call perception of hunger, thirst, and time "senses." And what about chemoreceptors? "Chemoreceptors: These trigger an area of the medulla in the brain that is involved in detecting blood born [sic: "blood-borne"?] hormones and drugs. It also is involved in the vomiting reflex." If we're not consciously aware of this perception, only of its results (e.g., vomiting) is it a "sense"?

Still, there are plenty to get on with in constructing aliens with different dominant senses from ours. Most human beings have sight or hearing as the dominant sensory mode. A smaller minority focuses on touch. Suzette Haden Elgin's "Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" system includes a lot of material on sensory modes:

Overview of Verbal Self-Defense

What kind of environment would an alien evolve and live in to have magnetism, electricity, tremor-sense, or echolocation as its dominant sense? And what about telepathy? If a sapient race communicates telepathically, they probably live in an environment where sight and hearing don't operate efficiently. Would a telepathic species have any reason to develop spoken language? Probably not, but as they became technologically advanced, one would think they'd invent a written language for archives and long-distance communication. Unless maybe they "store" memories in crystals or some other matrix and access them by touch. Could they use similar devices to amplify mental signals and send messages without anything we'd recognize as language?

If so, imagine the difficulty of making contact with them, conveying the concept of "language," or even convincing them we're intelligent. (Unless they have the ability to probe the minds of non-telepathic sentients.)

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Depiction Part 6 - Depicting Money and Wealth by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Depiction Part 6
Depicting Money and Wealth
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

In Depiction Part 5
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/01/depiction-part-5-depicting-dynastic.html
we started to look at Depicting Dynastic Wealth with an eye toward the Romance form of how to marry a millionaire, billionaire, Prince, King, Duke -- how to marry above your "station."  How to marry into the 1%.

The previous parts of the Depiction Series are:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-1-depicting-power-in.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-2-conflict-and-resolution.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/09/depiction-part-3-internal-conflict-by.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/12/depiction-part-4-depicting-power-in.html

This type of novel depicting the uber-wealthy from the inside is difficult for a writer to create because most writers aren't wealthy. 

Like musicians, actors, and other performing artists, writers are generally work-a-day schmucks, more like Cinderella than like the Prince.  

Those who hit it lucky often live like suddenly discovered movie stars, or suddenly popular athletes on a winning streak, and adopt a lavish lifestyle that eventually bankrupts them.  Those who work for a living (other than Investment Bankers) usually have no reason or means to learn Wealth Management. 

It is difficult to portray real wealth, from the inside, to portray a Character who was raised to wealth and privilege.  From the outside they all seem stuck up, and that makes them plausible to your reader and easy to portray.  

We ended off Depiction Part 5 with the observation that a shift of point of view produces strange inversions. 

In Historical Times, Kings ran the government and made the decisions.  Today voters run the government and make the decisions, then hire working-stiffs to carry out those decisions, bestowing such titles as Prime Minister or President.  But voters (working stiffs) are King now, and now Kings don't run the government, voters do.  It is a point of view shift.

However, while the people we elect either are wealthy, magically become wealthy while in office, or are from dynastic wealth, the voters in general are not. 

We are hiring people to manage trillions of dollars while we have no clue what the world looks like from the point of view of a Billionaire, or what skills it takes to manage trillions. 

The voters are looking at the wealthy from the outside and seeing aloof or stuck-up people.  Is that true insight or just a perspective? 

If you are interested in writing a Science Fiction Romance with a theme centered on Dynasty, you could find some interesting material studying the family backgrounds of dynasties where transmission worked, and where it failed. 

But before you dive into that research, think about what you know about our world, today. 

What does it take to learn Wealth Management?  What does it take to learn the difference between money and capital?

http://amazon.com/Rich-Dad-Poor-Robert-Kiyosaki-ebook/dp/B004XZR63M/

RICH DAD - POOR DAD is a key work by Robert Kiyosaki that's been around for years, yet still holds a truth that is the core of depicting the ultra-wealthy, or the scion of the uber-wealthy. 

We learn our initial attitudes from our parents, most especially our attitudes toward possessions, toward power over others ("Come here this instant or you're grounded for a week!"), and toward money and wealth, ("No you may not have an advance on your allowance.") from our parents.  After that, in college, peers and teachers toss in some adjustments, and eventually with our own paychecks, we see what works and what doesn't.

Most people never figure out why the behaviors that work are effective -- or why they can't control a budget or a diet. 

Self-control, self-discipline, self-governance can't be transmitted from parent to child with words. 

It's a do-as-I-do situation. 

Parents have to "model" budgeting, saving, investing, and all the fact-gathering and decision-making processes that go into wise behavior in order to transmit these behaviors.

The children of Aristocrats who grew up to manage inherited wealth well (rather than drinking and gambling it away) were trained from pre-verbal years to view privelege as a responsibility. 

The successful ones absorbed by osmosis the assumption that power must never be used for personal gain, particularly not for the "gain" of soothing one's own emotions. 

We are now seeing some new Fantasy Romances, and Science Fiction Romances, that depict the well-raised (well-mothered) scion of a rich, or nobel family who has internalized this attitude.

Here is a must-read novel from RoC by Juliet Marillier titled DREAMER'S POOL.  It contains a magic-using "Wise Woman" (herbal healer), a Prince, an Arranged Marriage fraught with real Romance, and mistaken identity all rolled into a fast reading tale of wealth and privelege properly stewarded.



Why are these novels of historical Aristocracy such successes in today's market where everyone knows Aristocracy was an utter disaster of a governing process, where the bloody French Revolution taught us so much, where women would never let their parents choose their husbands, and where being a Billionaire is prima facie evidence of skullduggery? 

Why do we think Cindarella got a better deal than her step-sisters? 

Why do we dream of being rescued into a life of wine and privelege when in real life we throw rotten tomatoes at the limos of the 1%? 

Perhaps it is because we are convinced that, given wealth enough to wield real Power, we would do it right.  Consider the biographies of winners of the Lottery twenty years later.  Very often, they lose everything within 5 years.  Could that be because they were not raised by wealthy-powerful parents and don't know the difference between money and wealth that we discussed in Depction Part 5? 

The poor -- or merchant/craftsman/artisan middle income folks -- look at Real Wealth from the outside and see it as easy to live that way. 

When such a 1%'ers life is lived by a person who was raised to it by a woman who was raised to raise boys to wield power without bullying, that 1%er's life looks easy -- from the outside. 

In fact, that "looks easy" effect is the definition of "Mastery."  When a master of a craft does it - it looks easy.  It looks as if anyone could do it without schooling or training or practice.

Have you ever watched a master glassblower?  Then tried it yourself? 

Massive wealth is fragile and must be handled delicately -- and it is very dangerous if it shatters.

History, and historical fiction, is littered with tales of the ne'er-do-well playboy, scion of a Titled Family, who fritters away his inherited fortune, goes into monstrous debt, and either finds his Soul Mate or ends badly in a duel.

Great fiction is composed of the juxtaposition of improbables.

SAVE THE CAT! calls that story type the "Fish Out Of Water."  A person who is out of his element, coping with the resultant conflicts.  A Lottery-Winner is a fish out of water if he/she wasn't already a 1%-er raised by 1%-ers. 

A mermaid on land is story material.

A human in space is story material.

An Aristocrat without principles living in the gutter is story material.

A gutter rat with principles living in a Palace is story material. 

A cop who does a great job as a cop is not story material, unless the story is based on the conflict between the Master Cop and Master Criminal -- and that's not a fish-out-of-water story. 

A cop who gets sucked into the vortex of some Bad Cops (maybe drug running or taking mob money to look the other way), is story material, and potential hero or villain.

An Orthodox Jewish Master Detective from Los Angeles who retires to be a small town patrol cop, but busts an international art theft ring and runs afowl of a Federal government plot involving the library collection of the most respected Rabbi of modern times -- THAT is story material.

Faye Kellerman has been writing a post-Romance series (22 books and counting) called the Decker/Lazarus novels.  The 2014 entry is exactly the fish-out-of-water novel I just described.  It's titled Murder 101.



MURDER 101 gets its title from being set in a college town, where the veteran Detective has taken on a protege.

The Dynastic Transmission of his professional skills (which are a power-management skill set, just like being a King or a Billionaire) is evident in the one family-dinner scene set in a restaurant where his kids and children-in-law gather, where an engagement is announced, and the protege who comes from a rich but dysfunctional family sees a functional working-stiff family functioning.

Decker's kids are cops, or work in allied fields using similar skill sets.  They all manage Power well.  The dominant factor in that values transmission success is Rina, Decker's wife, but his daughter by his first marriage is a successful cop, too.  She gets it from Decker, though she was raised by her mother. 

As I noted in my Amazon review of MURDER 101, the portrayal of the young protege is "off" just a bit.  He goes around with Decker, and Decker gets him to look up information online using the boy's iPad.  OK, fine, a small town police department would not issue high end equipment, but the iPad is the boy's own hardware.  The boy keeps asking people they are questioning the logon code for their wi-fi networks -- NOBODY WOULD DO THAT. 

Furthermore, they are in New York, where Verizon has LTE coverage, and no way on earth would a trust-fund-kid like this one ever fail to connect his iPad to Verizon's LTE (or something faster).  It's cheap and much more secure than strange wi-fi networks.  No way would a trust-fund-kid who is RICH fail to upgrade his iPad to wi-fi capable.  That is a FAIL on the author's part in "depicting dynastic wealth" (trust-fund-kids qualify as dynastic wealth portrayals.)

I call the Lazarus/Decker novels post-Romance because the first novel in the series, RITUAL BATH, is the actual romance -- where Decker and Rina Lazarus first meet.  After a while, they get married, have kids, raise kids, have crises, get invaded by the bad-guys who Decker is chasing, defend themselves well, and get through it all to retirement. 

Meanwhile, in other novels, they also deal with Decker's parents (who adopted him) - with a boy they adopt whose father is a mobster handling Power in a different way - and with Rina's very Orthodox family.



In MURDER 101 we see the Power-handling-skill-set being passed on to another kid who is bound for Harvard Law School and inheriting a serious fortune.  We see the step-by-step progress Decker's tutelage makes on this kid who has lost his way -- and we can infer the effect Decker's teaching will have on how the kid manages the extreme power the inheritance will bring.

In Jim Butcher's new Dresden Files novel, SKIN GAME, we see MAGICAL POWER in the hands of a man who lives, financially, hand-to-mouth.

He is a cop, of the magical variety, and regards that as a responsibility for the safety of Chicago, not as power over the peasants of Chicago.  He's had some love affairs -- and is currently getting more and more involved with a mundane cop who now knows all about the covert world of magic under Chicago.

Dresden comes back from exile on an island to find his woman and his protege and some friends have been trying to keep Chicago safe in his absense.  In the process, they have grown braver, gained skills, and amassed much power as well as wisdom in using it.

His style of power-management has rubbed off on them -- or he is friends with them because they share that attitude.

Jack Cambell is writing two series in the same universe.  I like one better than the other, perhaps just because I like the Hero.  Cambell has a whopping love story holding his THE LOST STARS series together, two military leaders trying to turn themselves into politicians co-ruling a star system even though their training conditions them to distrust each other.

In the IMPERFECT SWORD, they are separated and fight two different battles, winning despite the tricks played against them.  They win by applying their new theory of governance acquired from their former enemy, BLACK JACK.

Most of these novels, in both series, are nothing but large battles told from the POV of the General in charge, or the ship's captain dealing with enemy ships.

But the story and motivations of the characters is all about Relationship.

Taking a purely Relationship driven story, fraught with political philosophy, to an audience that hates romance and won't read non-fiction, and succeeding so very well at it, makes Jack Campbell a phenomenon to behold.



K, now to the point.<\b>

I've just given you 4 very recent novels, all aimed at very different readerships, all sharing a single attribute -- transmission of power-handling-skills.

Each of these novels depicts dynastic wealth of some sort.

Remember, wealth isn't money.  Money symbolically represents wealth, but wealth is not money. 

Wealth is something else.

Many people say that if you have a loving, functional family, you are wealthy even if living hand-to-mouth.  If you have your children around you, you are wealthy -- even if squatting on a dirt floor nibbling raw moldy potatoes.

Others say the only wealth they can't take away from you is your education.

In the Middle Ages, wealth was the ability to apprentice your boys to a Master Craftsman. 

In the Dresden Files, Dresden had built a magical laboratory, spending countless hours tediously creating magical tools from scratch.  By SKIN GAME, all that wealth had been ripped away from him, and he's left with only one tool he's just built plus his training and talent.

Wealth is fragile, but the responsibilities that go with such wealth are enduring.  Long after the wealth has shattered, the responsibilities will hound you. 

Wealth is the potential energy inherent in your very existence which you have packed into the forms of material objects.  If the wealth shatters, the material objects disappear, or wander into someone else's hands.  The objects themselves are not wealth. 

The energy of your life is your wealth.

So Wealth Management is self-discipline.  Wealth management is your ability to  make friends with yourself and persuade yourself to behave well.

So what is Dynastic Wealth?

Is there such a thing as inherited wealth that you have not earned?

If you assume that the concept "Soul Mate" has a valid corrolary in our everyday reality, then you have to consider that the children of Soul Mates somehow actually 'belong' to that couple.

If Souls are Mated, then the personal potential energy that each brings to the One they are when joined manifests as their wealth.

Children are one concrete manifestation of potential energy actualized. 

Children contain some of the potential energy contained in each parent Soul.

If the wealth generated by two mated Souls is inherited by the Child of those Souls, that inherited wealth is, sum and substance, an integral part of the two Parent Souls and the Child Soul. 

You can earn money, but you can't earn Wealth.  Wealth is the substance of your Soul made manifest -- you don't "earn" it; you "are" it. 

Your Wealth (in this science fictional theory) is part of you, just as your body is.

A strong man (or woman) can exert a considerable Power -- with muscles, or clever engineering -- creating a physical blow that can change things.  Hammering a nail.  Blowing up a dam.

What prevents a strong man (or woman) from hammering everything around them to smitherines?

Self-control governs -- the stronger you are, the stronger your self-control must be. 

Laws can't control you.  Taxes (Kings stealing your wealth) can't control you.  Kings can't control you.  "You" are both body and Soul, welded into a unit. 

Historically, we are still here, but Kings are pretty much gone. 

The Kings that are still here rule a constitutional monarchy.  The despots and strong-men are on their way out. (they keep popping up, but my bet is on democracy).

Dynastic Wealth is wealth accumulated over time, over generations.  The demonstrable fact that a second, maybe a third and fourth, generation has hung onto the inherited wealth, and added to it, shows that the wealth is truly theirs - truly a part of their Soul as their Soul is part of their Parents' Souls.

The Mate chosen to marry into a massive fortune (as the Princess-to-be in DREAMER'S POOL), both acquires that fortune and contributes to it, then produces an heir.

The heir is part of the Two Souls Joined, thus part of that fortune, not separate from it. 

That statement is almost a THEME.  To make it into a theme, you need to take it apart and inject the CONFLICT. 

For example, "Only Legitimate Heirs Can Manage Dynastic Wealth And Pass It On."

That would be a theme.  The conflict is in the question so urgently begged by the thematic statement: "So what constitutes Legitimate?"  And is loss of wealth under your management proof you aren't Legitimate? 

Does the husband have to be the father of the child for the child to be Legitimate? 

Is an adopted child a Legitimate heir?

What if something was wrong with the magical component of the Marriage Ceremony?   Would the children be Legitimate?

What if the Parents aren't of the same species? (Think SPOCK!)

What sorts of Tax Laws on inherited or Dynastic Wealth would species on other planets make?  What if they didn't have Souls, but humans did --- or vice-versa? 

THEME: Dynastic Wealth Accumulation is Toxic to Civilization.

CONFLICT: The Legitimate Heir to a throne flees the clutches of those who would place that heir on the throne (and manipulate them?) because the heir believes Dynastic Wealth is bad for Civilization.  Those who want to enthrone the legitimate heir believe the only way to avoid total war is to enthrone a legitimate heir.

ROMANCE: The current occupant of the throne (who is not legitimate) falls head over heels in love with the True Heir, who wants no part of any of this.

This scenario plays out in our real world in varying degrees all the time, especially in the USA.

Today a King doesn't have to be a Billionaire, or a 1%-er.  Today, the owner of a store, a business or a farm, or even possibly just a house, is a King, or at least a Duke, and the heirs have this same tricky problem of somehow managing to hold it all together, add to it, and pass it on.

Since, historically, some of the largest Fortunes (Rockefeller, Railroad Barons, Shipping Magnates,) from the 1800's industrialization, have been inherited by people who have apparently abused that Power, the USA has soured on the entire concept of Dynastic Wealth.

We are all "self-made" successes (or failures). 

Today's 50-somethings do not expect to inherit a single cent from their parents, and expect they won't be getting social security.  It's a bleak outlook.

Those folks are part of your audience, as are their children. 

In the 1940's, Congress made a series of laws essentially oblitterating the ability of a family to build dynastic wealth.

Tax laws were used to break up budding fortunes before they could become big enough to make politicians dance to the tune of the 1%.  (OK, yeah, it didn't exactly work out that way, but we're writing fiction here.)

Here's from WIKIPEDIA (I said we're writing fiction, so this is a good authority.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estate_tax_in_the_United_States

---------quote--------------

The term "death tax"

The caption for section 303 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, enacted on August 16, 1954, refers to estate taxes, inheritance taxes, legacy taxes and succession taxes imposed because of the death of an individual as "death taxes." That wording remains in the caption of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.[58] The term "death tax" is also a neologism used by critics to describe the U.S. federal estate tax in a way that conveys a negative connotation.

On July 1, 1862, the U.S. Congress enacted a "duty or tax" with respect to certain "legacies or distributive shares arising from personal property" passing, either by will or intestacy, from deceased persons.[59] The modern U.S. estate tax was enacted on September 8, 1916 under section 201 of the Revenue Act of 1916. Section 201 used the term "estate tax."[60][61] According to Professor Michael Graetz of Columbia Law School and professor emeritus at Yale Law School, opponents of the estate tax began calling it the "death tax" in the 1940s.[62] The term "death tax" more directly refers back to the original use of "death duties" to address the fact that death itself triggers the tax or the transfer of assets on which the tax is assessed.

Many opponents of the estate tax refer to it as the "death tax" in their public discourse partly because a death must occur before any tax on the deceased's assets can be realized and also because the tax rate is determined by the value of the deceased's persons assets rather than the amount each inheritor receives. Neither the number of inheritors nor the size of each inheritor's portion factors into the calculations for rate of the estate tax.

Proponents of the tax say the term "death tax" is imprecise, and that the term has been used since the nineteenth century to refer to all the death duties applied to transfers at death: estate, inheritance, succession and otherwise.[63]

Chye-Ching Huang and Nathaniel Frentz of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities assert that the claim that the estate tax is best characterized as a "death tax" is a myth, and that only the richest 0.14% of estates owe the tax.[64]

Political use of "death tax" as a synonym for "estate tax" was encouraged by Jack Faris of the National Federation of Independent Business[65] during the Speakership of Newt Gingrich.

Well-known Republican pollster Frank Luntz wrote that the term "death tax" "kindled voter resentment in a way that 'inheritance tax' and 'estate tax' do not".[66]

Linguist George Lakoff states that the term "death tax" is a deliberate and carefully calculated neologism used as a propaganda tactic to aid in efforts to repeal estate taxes. The use of "death tax" rather than "estate tax" in the wording of questions in the 2002 National Election Survey increased support for estate tax repeal by only a few percentage points.[67]

--------END QUOTE----------

So now, instead of being run by Aristocrats who have inherited Dynastic Fortunes, the USA is run by self-made million&billionaires.

Many first-term electees who are elected to the Federal House of Representatives or the Senate start out so stretched financially that they camp out in their Federal offices between trips home.  They can't afford an apartment in DC. 

If they are re-elected a few times, eventually they retire with a lot more money than you or I would ever imagine.  Nobody says how this little miracle happens, but one famous Mayor became famous trying to sell Barak Obama's Senate Seat because it was "Gold."  What do they know that we don't know?

Most of these self-made 1%-ers were raised by the Poor Dad described by Richard Kiyosaki in Rich Dad: Poor Dad.

The rags-to-riches stories of these people make great reading, very inspiring.

Many, however, did not rise from rags but from comfortable middle income families where they got a fairly good start.  The Founders of Microsoft and Facebook were college students at the time they quit school because their little fledgling enterprise was taking off into a full time job.

-------

Now pull back and take the long view of our Civlization -- not just the USA, but all of Humanity worldwide.

Take a view with a deep perspective showing Civlization all the way back to 7,000 BCE and the advent of Agriculture.

It seems Civilization has always been run by Dynastic Fortunes. 

If we run into Aliens in Outer Space who function on Dynastic Wealth, we should have no trouble understanding them. 

And we've always had "The Poor" -- usually if you were born poor, you were poor all your life and died really young.  Only recently has that changed, and it has not changed everywhere on Earth. 

We've always had Poverty as a fate.  Now we have poverty as a period in a person's life when they barely have clothes and food (think modern College Students).

It's healthy for the human spirit to learn just how little material wealth we actually need.  Some Eastern Religions (and Christianity, too) advocate shucking material "stuff" and venturing out into the world to live on luck and faith.  It works.  It changes people, and they think they're better off for it later.

But people who have never been "poor" (not knowing where your next meal is coming from) -- people raised in comfort if not luxury, taught by parents who imposed strick discipline because the child would become an heir to dynastic wealth, raised by people who had Kiyosaki's RICH DAD perspective and transmitted it, make decisions using a different process.

If you are so rich you don't know that you are rich, you don't look at the world from the perspective of fear or of poverty (except the mob may storm the palace.)

You don't "spend money" -- you achieve goals with your wealth.

True, the goals you choose may not serve the best interests of the poor.

But I'm talking here about a perspective - the attitude of a Character that would color their relationship with a potential Mate.

Civilization has always been run by Kings -- so much so, that when Israel was just starting to become a Nation, they asked God for a King like other countries had.  The Prophet they asked didn't understand why they needed a King when they had God.  A people where all the individuals behave according to the Commandments doesn't need much government -- people behave well and don't hurt each other or steal, and those who have take care of the poor.  If there's a problem, there are Judges in the Gates.  What do you need a King for?  Well -- everyone else has a King, and they won't talk to us farmers and ranchers; they want to talk to our King.

So Kings were the way of the World long before the Book of Kings.

A King who doesn't gain the throne by force of arms gains it by inheritance.

Thrones are all about Dynastic Wealth.

Dynastic Wealth has always run things -- for thousands of years -- and we're still here, wealthier for it.

In the 1940's, after WWII, in the USA, the Inheritance Tax was systematically rewritten specifically, (as a matter of the theory of governance by what we now call The Progressives) to prevent Dynastic Wealth from accumulating. 

So as I said above, we are now governed by New Money.

In this blog about the 1% I pointed out a quote from ROYAL PAINS on "New Money" and referenced the Estate Tax.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/10/theme-worldbuilding-integration-part-7.html

New Money settles things with Lawyers; Old Money settles things over coctails. 

How much of the ineffectual decision-making we see in our current government is due to the decision-making processes inherent in the mind of a person of New Money? 

People raised by a Poor Dad (or no Dad) trying to handle the Power of real Wealth (and wealth that isn't their own) will grab at The Law to cure whatever problem they have.  Old Money knows how to apply dynastic power to finesse away problems and keep stability.  (If you hate the status quo, old money is the enemy!  Wow, Conflict!) 

Now go back to the 1960's and Johnson's WAR ON POVERTY initiative, and check out what progress we've made.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Poverty


http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/09/the-war-on-poverty-after-50-years
----------QUOTE------------
Since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all military wars in U.S. history since the American Revolution. Despite this mountain of spending, progress against poverty, at least as measured by the government, has been minimal.
------------END QUOTE----------

You want to write a HOT ROMANCE? 

Remember the STAR TREK episode CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER by Harlan Ellison.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708455/combined 

Kirk - adventure Hero Extraordinaire and crazy sexy playboy - meets up with his TRUE SOUL MATE who runs a soup kitchen during the Great Depression.

You can write that Romance, and end it with an HEA.

Worldbuild a place where Dynastic Wealth has been destroyed, and some hotshot yoyo idealist wants to get rid of all restrictions on inheritance and rebuild the Aristocracy of Extreme Wealth.

Opposing is the Soul Mate who sees any wealth in the control of a private citizen as purest Evil. 

This would work easily on an alien planet, maybe a shipwrecked human colony  living with some Natives (think about C. J. Cherryh's FOREIGNER universe).

Play that conflict out until their child comes of age with an opinion of his own -- maybe there are siblings?  Maybe one sibling is a clone of the father? 

THEME: we must rebuild the capacity to accumulate Dynastic Wealth
CONFLICT: The Couple accumulates wealth and is attacked by The Mob that greedily wants to steal or destroy it all (think French Revolution).

To make this work, you have to create a scion of a family that inherits Wealth and uses it well to keep people safe and government stable.  Opposing him/her, you need The Poor -- and you need a scion of a dynastic fortune that isn't a wastrel but is bent on gaining personal power.

Many of these novels have been published, many very well written, but there are still variations -- especially in the Science Fiction or Paranormal Romance hybrid genres -- that have to be treated.

Consider the role Romance novel has played in feminism, presenting the kick-ass heroine in a good light, showing young women what it is to be a hero and a woman at the same time. 

In the Western, we have heroic women who can keep a home together without a man to protect them and the children.  In Romance, we have women who rescue themselves and then turn around and rescue their guy. 

By looking at what it means to be a woman from every possible direction, women readers have come out of trying to dress and behave like men, to being charming and feminine in dress and manner, yet assertive and when warranted even aggressive at work, play, and local politics.

Perhaps it's time for the Romance hybrid genres to tackle the issue of what it means to be a Soul Mate, produce children, and bequeath them a Fortune.

I expect to see novels where children are tasked by their semi-wealthy parents to double their inheritance and pass it on, creating in 300 years or so, Dynastic Wealth in order to eradicate poverty as the "War on Poverty" has failed to do by destroying Dynastic Wealth? 

The four novels I've discussed here, Murder 101, Skin Game, and The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword, and Dreamer's Pool, as well as the TV Series ROYAL PAINS, all in different genres aimed at different readerships, tiptoe around the edges of this theme of Dynastic Wealth as the prime weapon in the war against poverty. 

THEME: To command extreme wealth without destructive errors, one must be born and raised to the task.

Or:

THEME: Civilization will disintegrate without Dynastic Fortunes.

Consider, if today we decided the inheritance tax has to go -- so that we can rebuild dynastic wealth -- then what experienced people could train the next generation to wield that power in a constructive way?

Depict your King/Billionaire from the inside as understanding and acting upon the distinction between Money and Wealth, between Cash and Capital.  But when depicting such a King/Billionaire from the outside, those same actions will seem Greedy, callous, and irresponsible to the 99% who can not perceive the distinction.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Party Pooping

All right, I am a party pooper. I have always been the officious type  (I do realize that this is no desirable trait) and this may explain my obsession with artists' and authors' and musicians' rights.

Here's the thing. As I wondered what my topic for today would be, I checked my email and discovered no fewer than three copyright/trademark infringing messages from respectable people who ought to know better.

Some two-word (or three word) combinations of common words probably should never have qualified for a trademark in the first place. That's a whole other discussion... that might make mention of billionaire Donald Trump, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton, Homer Simpson version of "Duh!" (we can all say "Duh!" still, but not the version with a different vowel and an apostrophe) Justin Bieber (one word repeated many times) and many others.... including Facebook.

According to this blog, http://blog.dictionary.com/facebooktrademark/  Facebook has registered trademarks for words such as "face", "wall", "like" (in specific contexts, no doubt) and may be trying to find a back door way to claim an unregistered trademark of "book".... probably as a suffix to any website name.

But I digress:
  1. "Don't even think about advertising a SUPER BOWL party ...www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=dffa905a-694b-4cc0-998b...
    "If you are planning something, just remember: do not use “Super Bowl” by itself or in conjunction with other words or terms in any commercial promotions of any kind including your own events, third-party events, contests, games, product promotions, or sales. You just can’t do it."  This is the advice of law firm Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC to be found here:

    http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=dffa905a-694b-4cc0-998b-5065dfaf1a24

    They conclude, "unless you have inked a licensing agreement with the NFL to use SUPER BOWL for any commercial purpose, consider yourself warned not to do so. “THAT BIG GAME SUNDAY” will have to do."

    Enjoy the game!

    Rowena Cherry.
    Space Snark (TM)