Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sex in the Wild

That's the title of a four-part PBS series about animal mating and reproduction, each episode concentrating on a different species of mammal:

Sex in the Wild

The episodes feature elephants, kangaroos (with glances at koalas), orangutans, and dolphins (with some material on whales).

They include lots of intriguing facts that could be applied to the creation of aliens. Male elephants in the grip of mating frenzy (which can last up to five months) have been observed attempting to mate with hippopotamuses. Male dolphins (like many other species) are known to engage in homosexual activity; an example appears in the video. Because they're mating in water, or in midair while leaping out of the water, dolphins complete an act of copulation in seconds. Orangutans, on the other hand, may stay coupled for thirty or forty minutes. Alpha male orangutans, each of whom controls a large territory also inhabited by females and low-ranking males, grow large and muscular ("like the Incredible Hulk," as mentioned on the show) and sport cheek adornments called phlanges. A phlanged male seems to emit pheromones that prevent any lesser males in his territory from developing into alphas. Once the "king" is gone, another male undergoes transformation into an alpha. A female kangaroo has the ability to suspend development of a fetus until environmental conditions become favorable for pregnancy and birth. Thus, she may have three babies in different stages of development—an infant in the pouch, a young joey hopping alongside, and an embryo "in reserve."

Elephants have the longest pregnancies of any mammal, twenty-two months. (Aargh.) Kangaroos—and all marsupials—have three vaginas (connecting to a single outlet, through which the baby emerges)! The kangaroo gives birth after only thirty days of gestation, but that's because marsupial babies are born still in a fetal stage. They complete their development in the pouch instead of the womb, a pattern that sounds much more comfortable and convenient than our way. One of the hosts of the show pointed out that if our babies stayed in utero long enough to match the developmental level of newborn elephants, our pregnancies would last almost as long as theirs. Human infants emerge into the world about nine months sooner than our overall lifespan would predict, as a byproduct of the compromise between the newborn's large brain and the limitations of the mother's pelvic structure. So we undergo extensive development after birth that would normally occur in the womb. Just one of our species' many anomalous features (like our lack of body hair).

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World Part 20: Crafting A Path to Selling Fiction

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Part 20
Crafting A Path to Selling Fiction
Guest Post by Miriam Pia

After hearing from Deb Wunder, a professional writer who found her voice in non-fiction,

I can now bring you a Guest Post by Miriam Pia who crafted her own path through side-channels and specialty magazines as the world shifted to Electronic Publication.

This is the 20th post in a series about Marketing Fiction in a Changing World.  Here is the index to all of those posts.

Many of the previous posts are about that changing world, about building an audience online, about connecting with that audience using various media based tools.

In this series, I have also noted many of the non-systematic changes publishing has undergone, in the haphazard way that Disruption works in a human-based-culture.

Draw a line from the print-only publishing world, to our own Indie publishers who work E-book only or E-book and Print on Demand (sometimes plus audiobook) only, but never distribute through brick-and-mortar stores. Look at how Amazon has disrupted Mass Market Publishing, and how Mass Market has fought back.

Distribution is the industry that is undergoing massive disruption of the kind we looked at last week.  The whole publishing industry was founded on Distribution from wholesaler to retailer. That structure has been disrupted. Understand how and why, and craft your own path into best seller status.

Today's distribution model is completely changed, yet (as with the post on Depicting Disruption last week) entirely the same. It is just a different technology being used to do the same task: gather and connect with a Readership.

So here is our Guest, Miriam Pia describing her path.


Crafting A Path
 Miriam Pia

Jacqueline Lichtenberg asked me to blog a little bit about my adventures with publishing so far.

Well, it has been what I myself consider a little bizarre.

Like most writers I started out as a child who learned literacy.  My mother encouraged me to write in English daily.  Unlike August 2010 to 8 April 2016, I was living in a nation where English is the main language.  By the time I was 12 or 13 years old I read a lot for recreation as well as having been a good girl who read what the teachers told me to read.  At some point, that means I was getting decent to excellent American educational publisher materials, and "Big 6" publishing house hits from bookstores and libraries.  Like most writers, back then I did not think about it that way.

My first adult awareness of publishers was a little unusual.  My boyfriend's parents ran a writing business from the family's living room and that guy's youngest brother used to write short fiction and submit them to magazines.  I lived with my boyfriend and was exposed to a lot of what went on, considering, but of course it was nothing like it was for the parents running the business or the young guy submitting fiction stories.

Mostly the parents expressed that they had to copy write for corporations to earn an entire living and the youngest would periodically report having received another rejection from another magazine.  He either said that he stuck the rejection slips onto a nail in his bedroom wall or else he said that Steven King used to do that.  For some reason I don't even remember which.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend felt even weirder than he had before he brought in a girlfriend who would also write a novel while hanging around at home.  The clackety clack had already been getting to him, and this only made it ...harder to quit smoking.

A few years later I had a first publication as a professional thanks to an older woman I met as a senior work colleague at a university.  She had a go at starting her own newsletter and included me as one of her published authors.  She paid a penny per word for a poem and a short story.  I was so happy to go pro!

It was more years later before I got anywhere with professional writing again, and for a while my best luck was to get a free copy of magazine.  There were several years when pagan magazines helped me.  A British magazine Comhairle Cairdre and another called Time Between Times published nonfiction and fiction.  I barely remember what happened that made it work, but I can tell you that I succeeded in not offending some English lady who ran a magazine or publishing company that controlled multiple magazines.

Another couple of years later, I felt I was having a tough time making any headway.  I managed to communicate online with some pagans enough that one lady took pity on me and let have some book reviews for Pangaia.  Goddess forgive me if it was actually Pagan Dawn magazine and not Pangaia.  It was like 15 years ago.   Some editor took pity on me.  Sorry but that's really how it was.  I was glad.  I had fun writing a few book reviews for a reasonably reputable magazine.

The next breakthrough I had was when I submitted a short story to the Iliad Press Summer Art Awards.  They gave my story an Honorable Mention.  While not a first prize and no cash, in this case a small press told me that my work was not horribly substandard which was really nice but not as nice as a prize with money involved would have been.  That was in like 2001 or 2002.

An Indianapolis paper NuVo accepted a couple of letters to the editor from me, but I never developed the rapport to write for pay with them. NuVo is a  newspaper that markets the entertainment industry to college students and yuppies in Indianapolis.  I did go to the same cafe as a woman who wore more dresses and succeeded in getting that same publication to pay her to write for them about food.  They mostly use staff writers and the first years earned about $13K for the year back at the beginning of the 21st century.  Most of them have degrees and majored in either communications or journalism but the organization has some wiggle room for the one who gets there some other way.

The International Society of Poetry publishes poetry anthologies and runs contests.  They serve a market that is predominantly to support amateurs in having a good time, but they also send out some rewards for work they think is particularly good and once or twice each year they run a contest in which the top prize is tens of thousands of dollars and a relatively serious publishing contract for like a book of poetry or something.

They published a few of my pieces in books and online.  They gave me 2 Editor's Choice Awards, but again, those awards did not include me winning money.  One award was in 2003 but the other was in 2008.   They have a mixed reputation because,  as mentioned above they crank out large anthologies which mainly serve amateurs as a way to have a good time and share some work with family and friends or to enjoy having a bunch of work by other people who were not known before.  They publish a lot of free verse poetry .   All of mine that they used were just 23 lines of free verse.

After that, my big breakthrough with publishers was another surprise.  It was corporate clients, who hired me to ghostwrite. That meant I wrote 'blind'.

Here's what I mean.  In the magazine industry most editors hire people who have read the magazine for a while and have really learned the style.  Writing that way is 'with sight'.  Blind is like with blind dates .  I just had no idea.  Magazine publishers say this is horrible practice but there it was: corporate publishers wanted this and I went ahead and did it.

Thanks to that, I got paid more than I had before as a writer but instead of an artist marketing my own creations I was writing something for someone else.  I had bid on the project so I had some idea.  What I liked best about it was that it mimicked good relationships with editors and managing editors at magazines and publishing companies in that I knew I was hired so I wrote and they paid me.  Especially when I needed to earn money that worked much better for me than spending God knows how long trying to get Fussy Editor 73 to decide she liked me or my article pitch enough to look at it after I wrote it and then maybe their magazine would use it and send me $20 half a year later.

Instead, I was hired and I wrote and they paid me for what I wrote.  That is what happens with traditional magazines and publishing companies after Fussy Editor 73 has concluded that you or I are good as gold but until then, good luck (sarcasm intended).  I would still like to befriend Fussy Editor 73 and the others, but wow, it can be tough.
So I wrote for people who don't know me and who's names I have mostly forgotten, to write and get paid.  The vast majority were corporations which means that my work appeared all over the place but usually as part of a corporate blog or on a website and without my name appearing anywhere.  I don't even know where my work appeared - which is hilarious in some ways and like a fun house mirror for my ego as a professional writer.

Here is a partial client list.  A few of the places I do remember are Closeout Explosion, BookRags, Latham Shindler's short stories.  There were also Jermaine Davis and Alan Northcott and Victor Ogazi.  There was EastBiz and an Atlanta Real Estate Blog and years later Allmand and Amp and Void Visuals.  The reality of writing professionally, in this way, has made some of what should be perfectly clear a bit of a blur, mainly because I was home working from my living room or typing away in a cafe most of the times that I did that work.  There have been other clients in the near and distant past.  Some may be offended to be mentioned, whereas others might be proud to be.

The most frequent project types with the corporate clients were articles.  Here is where we find a big difference between the way I worked and some norms in the industry.  What I did is both good and bad.  It is bad in that the majority of professional writers would have specialized much more by now.  For example:  'I'm a fashion article writer for such n such set of magazines based in NYC.' Or 'I do grant proposals'.  Instead, I am still in the professional stage of exploration, and have tried a number of different types of writing projects and continue to try more.

The good part about this, is that, over time, there are some signs of specialization anyways and thanks to the flexibility of some of the freelance services I have more freedom to go ahead and try to develop my skills in new areas within professional writing.

During the second decade of the New Millennium I finally had another type of breakthrough, in that I finally got a publication by book publishers with myself as the real and official author, rather than having ghostwritten a book or part of a book for a corporate or private client.

As most people can imagine I was delighted to get published by a regular press rather than being self-published.   It is true that personal connections helped in that a guy I found online who was a playmate of my older brother's, 30 years ago, helped get a publisher he knew to not ignore my submission.  Wilder Publications was able to publish as a POD a self-help / intro to philosophy booklet that I released and wow, do they want me to sell more copies above cost.  I agree but that gets into another part of the job.

Here is my self-help book:

Before then, I had a profound personal drama with an Indian publisher Alethia.  I was thrilled because they accepted a novel that I had written in 2006 and again  it was not self-publishing and I was glad.

They got so far as to design the cover but they did not release the novel according to the schedule that appeared in the contract so instead of that novel coming out with a price in Rupees from the publisher based in Pune, India it came back to me.

A few years later, that novel found release through SBPRA which is an author subsidized deal.  I need to find the readers and sell lots more copies but it is nice that there is a nice professionally produced version of this novel for sale.  That one got released in 2015.

Way back in the previous decade there was other excitement, hope, drama then nothing because Artemis publishing told me they were interested in a work of academic philosophy that I had produced.  My understanding is that they collapsed and were not able to follow through, and in 2016 I still have not found another publisher for that work, but have updated and modified that work.  I would rather not self-publish it because of personal limitations.  I just think self-publishing works better for certain kinds of people. It requires certain skills, only some of which I have.

This year, SBPRA
is working with me to release a science fiction novel under a pen name.

Whether sensible or insane, I threw a male pen name onto that one for a couple of simple reasons.  Even though both Jacqueline Lichtenberg and I are women who write science fiction, it is possible, most SF fans are young men.  There are older men and women who like it, but the market is still young men.

What I meant by the male pen name was for young  men to just see some other guy's name on the cover of some book and for them to just go for it even if for some weird reason they feel like they should go for something that some other man did.  Due to the nature of my own ego, my real name is listed in the acknowledgements.  Some will be offended but others will love the little trick.

The pen name is Robert Fitzgerald Jr. by the way, and the first novel on which that name appears is The Children of Loki which is about  interstellar mercenaries.  That man known as ‘Rock’ could portray the novel’s main character – Kiel Bronson, but to portray Gezka FaucMerz would rely on graphic arts and other special effects magic.  There are other male and female characters who are more normal.  What I am getting at is fully explained whenever one reads the novel.

 I have had some comedic fantasies about using a male actor to portray Robert Fitzgerald Jr. at book signings so the men can find the guy who wrote the novel they like.  Anyway, I may have created something I had not anticipated trying that, but that novel is due to be released later this year.    I mean,  I am the author so I would do the actual signing but uh – well, I’d try to make a rather amusing game of it when the young men show up to meet RFJ and there I am at the table with a pile of books and some guy dressed up as RFJ, so they’ll not be disappointed somehow.

That's what I have experienced with book publishing so far.

Meanwhile, I have periodically tried to get a literary agent and I would like traditional publishing company contracts.  I will continue.  I have had one agent, associated with SBPRA for a year several years ago.

At this point, that is what has happened to me.  I feel I still have a lot to learn.

Miriam Pia

------------------End Guest Post-----------

This post depicts the actual life of real professional writers.  Being a "professional" means putting your hand to any and every opportunity to make money. You acquire the craft in order to sell that skill.  It is not personal. You just do it.  

Then there is the Art of Writing.  That is personal.  You don't sell your Art. You hide it inside the craft that fits your Art into the commercial distribution channels.

As noted above, those commercial distribution channels are still seething with "disruption by technology."  Read last week's post on disruption and think about how your Art can find a place in that ever-changing world.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The C.A.S.E. Act is good news!

Potentially good news in a sea of evil for creators: a small claims court copyright act has been introduced in the House. This -the Copyright Alternative In Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2016 would allow individuals a cost-effective (as opposed to cost-prohibitive) way to seek recourse against copyright infringers.


Thank you, Representative Hakeem Jeffries and co-sponsor Representative Tom Marino!

Authors and followers, please contact your own Congresspersons to encourage them to support CASE

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Insect Consciousness?

A honeybee scientist, Andrew Barron, and a philosopher, Colin Klein, have collaborated on a study that suggests insects may have consciousness and emotions:

Insects Are Conscious

Does insects' inner life comprise more than simple reflexes? Conventionally, the neocortex is thought to be the site of consciousness. Suppose, rather, the "much more primitive midbrain" synthesizes experience into "a unified, egocentric point of view"? Barron and Klein maintain that insects have midbrain-like neural structures that enable them to "model themselves as they move through space." (The quotations come from an article about this study in SMITHSONIAN magazine.) Insects may feel, at the very least, hunger and pain.

Since I've always shared the prevailing belief that invertebrates don't have enough neural processing capacity to feel anything, this hypothesis strikes me as rather unsettling. Insects do appear to "plan," in a sense, in that they pursue definite goals. They can learn from experience (even flatworms, a much "lower" life form, can do that), so do they have "memory"? They make choices between alternatives, so are they "deciding"?

Whether insects have consciousness and the ability to think depends, of course, on how we define "conscious" and "think." C. S. Lewis in THE PROBLEM OF PAIN points out that an unconscious human body may reflexively react to hurtful stimuli although obviously without being aware of pain. If by "self-awareness" we mean the ability to meditate on our own existence, possibly only human beings have that quality. Self-awareness on the level of recognizing one's own reflection in a mirror is confined to us, some primates, and a select few other animals. If "thinking" means only abstract thought that can be formulated in words, by definition we classify ourselves as the only thinking organisms on the planet. If any kind of problem-solving equals thinking, the field becomes much wider.

I once read a story (can't remember the title or author) in which one character tries to convince another that thought isn't confined to human beings and higher animals. He says, "With what does a plant think, in the absence of a brain?"—classifying a plant's phototropism as a form of thinking.

Barron and Klein hope investigating the mental lives of insects may throw light on the origins of subjectivity in "higher" species, including ourselves.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Depiction Part 16 - Reviews 26 Depicting Political Disruption From China To Today by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Depiction Part 16
Reviews 26
Depicting Political Disruption From China To Today
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 
Previous posts in the Depiction series are indexed here:

This post has two titles because I have two books to review which are perfect examples of an article which discusses a non-fiction book.

We have discussed in Parts 19 and 20 of Marketing Fiction In A Changing World how non-fiction writing is the mainstay of a professional writer's income.

Now, if you have many contracts for fiction novels coming in, as many mass market Romance Writers do, you can't dabble on the side in writing non-fiction.  There's no time or strength.  But even when selling fiction, you have to read a lot of non-fiction.  Romance writers and science fiction writers do a lot of research reading.  If you are writing the hybridized field of Science Fiction Romance, that is more than double the amount of non-fiction reading per novel produced.

Some writers shun reading fiction while writing fiction -- so as not to be "influenced."  Others gobble up books in the field they are writing in.

But no matter how you go about doing it, your fiction must connect the reader's real world with some less tangible world -- an ideal world, a future world, an alternate reality, or just artistic imagination.

Connecting layers of reality and imaginary perception is what writers do, in fiction or non-fiction. Readers most enjoy experiencing connections they haven't found for themselves, yet.

So today let's look at some science fiction and some fantasy that depicts political disruption by using Romance.

In April, 2016, Fortune Magazine posted the following article:

This Ancient Chinese Text Is the Manual for Business Disruptors by  Michael Puett ,   Christine Gross-Loh  APRIL 11, 2016, 8:00 AM EDT

Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh are the authors of The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us about the Good Life (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

The article starts out:

And no, it’s not Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”

When disruption became the rallying cry for innovators a decade ago, they seized on ancient work of Chinese philosophy to prove their point. In Sun-Tzu’s Art of War, a new class of business disrupters claimed to have found the original manual.

They were right about ancient Chinese philosophy, but wrong about the manual.

As it turns out, another text from China, the Laozi, actually offers a much more expansive—and revolutionary—vision of innovation.
---------END QUOTE----------

And concludes:

That’s why those who aspire to innovate are better off seeing the world through a Laozian, not Sunzian, lens. If life is like a game of chess, Sunzians concentrate all their effort towards winning in a situation in which the board, the pieces, and the opponent are immutable. Laozian innovators know the chessboard can be tipped over at any moment. So they shift to another game entirely without anyone even realizing what is being changed.

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

Read the whole article if you can because explaining these two views of "disruption" can give you a deeper understanding of the world your reader lives in.  The writer's business is explaining the reader's world to the reader.

Now here are two books (both plotted around super-hot Romance) -- both in series -- one blatant military science fiction genre by Jack Campbell, the other equally blatant Fantasy by Marshall Ryan Maresca -- each depicting Political Disruption in such a way that the reader can recognize and relate to the Disruption Forces driving today's headlines.

The first book I want to draw to your attention, the latest in a long series, is by the New York Times Bestselling writer, Jack Campbell.

The Lost Stars: Shattered Spear by Jack Campbell ...

... is the 4th title in the Lost Stars series, but The Lost Stars is in the same universe, with the same characters, as 11 previous titles, 6 in Campbell's The Lost Fleet series, and 5 in The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier series.

This series is huge in scope, depicting the clash of two human civilizations in a 100 year war that hammers both of them to flat out desperation.

It turns out that this 100 year war is the result of non-humans (very alien aliens? - we don't know because nobody's ever seen them) playing a very human game of "Let's You And Him Fight."

Games People Play is so "disruptive" and currently interesting that it was reissued in a variety of modern formats in 2011

So taken as a whole, this 15 novel set by Jack Campbell accurately depicts a group of interstellar civilizations from the Chinese Laozian innovators' point of view.

This is accomplished rather neatly by introducing the rapidly changing political variables of these civilizations from the point of view of a man who grasps and understands 3-D interstellar war fleet combat in .

THE LOST FLEET part of the series gradually walks the reader through changing from a   point of view to a Laozian point of view.  The main Character, Black Jack, has an unconscious bias for the Laozian method of problem solving. The other characters, who have failed to understand that Constants are actually Variables, can't stop him from disrupting their 100 year war.

The Beyond The Frontier part of the series follows other characters who ride Black Jack's wave of disruption out beyond the borders that have been considered Constants and there they discover and bring back data about what is really going on.

You may remember me talking about The Alien Series by Gini Koch (here with me in the background)

and my delight at how Gini's main character figures out "what is really going on" --- which she does by applying the Laozian innovator's problem solving methodology.

Alien In Chief is the 12th and not the last in this Series.

In the Lost Stars series, Jack Campbell shows, without telling, how those whose lives have been disrupted by Black Jack's victories, now rebuild the shattered civilization into a new model, a little bit more of a democracy (but not too much, you understand).  They are forming alliances and stabilizing thing among the stars in their region of the galaxy.

The Lost Stars sub-series has a genuine Romance story-arc beautifully blended and balanced with long, long descriptions of space battles.  The space battles are long because they are realistic -- it takes a long time to maneuver whole fleets traveling at measurable fractions of the speed of light.

Doing the unexpected, (disrupting expectations) is the key to battle success, in the Romance story, the Battle Plot, and the Political Machinations.  These books form a poetic example of the Laozian view of the universe.

Marshall Ryan Maresca's THE ALCHEMY OF CHAOS... a Fantasy series incorporating a School of Magic campus, a former Circus Performer, a Drug Cartel (or two), and a social fabric straining under Laozian Innovation and the ultimate Disruption.

The Alchemy of Chaos is the direct sequel to The Thorn of Dentonhill, which I also loved.

In The Alchemy of Chaos we see the Romance between the main character and a real kick-ass-heroine heat up to dominate the action-plot.

The venue is the Magic School's campus plus the surrounding business and residential district (dominated by street gangs manipulated by organized crime).  

It is a wheels-within-wheels world where the Circus Performer-Mage Student is The Disruptor, solving his personal problems by understanding how Constants are actually potential-variables.  Being young, he thinks (Sorcerer's Apprentice style), that he is in control of all those disrupted constants he is trying to vary.

The author obviously has much more to say about disrupting nice, quiet, reliable constants when you are so absolutely (20-something-year-old) certain you are in complete control of the results.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Maradaine novels, for me, is the Romance and how true love, true soul mates, come together to deal with unexpected chaos together.  

Emergency Crisis Management is one of the major, core topics of all Romance but is especially relevant to plotting the Science Fiction Romance, or perhaps especially the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance.

In the Maradaine novels, Maresca has shown how a civilization might treat Magic and Science as separate topics that can not be mixed -- only to discover that they are not so separate.

So take all the Jack Campbell titles together with, interwoven with, the Maresca titles, do an in depth contrast and compare among those, then review the Chinese Philosophy discussed in that Fortune Magazine article.

There is, of course, much more to say and write about Disruptors.  The most devastating chaos always results from Soul Mates finding each other.  The best case scenario is that the chaos might be just transient, and stability might ensue.  Then again, it might be a hundred year war.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Week In Copyright

Romance and Science Fiction authors may like (or not like) to keep abreast with developments that may affect their rights and their income.

Follow the money:  What happens when a plagiarist self-publishes someone else's work on Amazon?

If you haven't noticed this story, you might find it interesting. There's more of it going on than one might suppose.

The Authors Guild is also following the money.

I think I've blogged before about how Google Books doesn't work the way Google said it worked in court. Roxana Robinson gives an excellent example in the above mentioned post.  She also explains how Amazon guts author income.

Roxana reports that Google, in the Court case, claimed that it would be prohibitively expensive if they were to pay authors, so they don't. Much the same arguments are made by You-Tube, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius about paying musicians... or at least, paying musicians fairly.



One must also be concerned when politicians consider that ebooks should be treated exactly like print books for library lending purposes.

The obvious difference is that a physical book can only survive a certain number of readings before it suffers wear and tear, and has to be replaced. Moreover, there are certain logistics with physical books to keep the lendings local. With an ebook, one purchased copy can be loaned to successive borrowers anywhere in the world for ever. Moreover, anyone anywhere can call themselves a subscription library and exploit digital works without paying the authors.

When a politician promises to make it easier for "orphan works" to be made available, I fear that this is code for enriching Google and Amazon at the expense of obscure authors and their estates. It seems to me to threaten a sort of eminent domain for intellectual property.

Remember the Authors Guild action when a number of easily located, website owning, living authors were declared to be undiscoverable, and their works were in imminent danger of being declared "orphaned" and appropriated?

Read more:

The trouble for authors, musicians, photographers, movie-makers and other creators is that lawmakers, courts, and businesses with the deepest pockets appear all to be in favor of entertaining the populace for as little cost as possible, which means the creators are being hammered.

On a more uplifting note, the Copyright Alliance is inviting intellectual property owners and creators (who are OneVoice members.... membership is free) to send them a photograph of themselves in a creative setting (deadline July 28th, 2016).

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Unintended Consequences

I recently saw an article about wildfires in Oregon, which are much worse than they would have been naturally because of the conscientious efforts to prevent forest fires in past decades. (Remember Smoky the Bear?) Without human interference, forests burn frequently enough to clear out underbrush and make room for new growth. Without periodic fires, the underbrush keeps accumulating to build up a copious supply of fuel, so when fire does eventually break out, it's disastrous.

That phenomenon is only one example of how human good intentions in manipulating the natural order can generate unforeseen negative consequences. Back when wolves were considered dangerous pests that ravaged livestock and attacked people, wolf packs were systematically eliminated in the U.S. More recently, they've been restored to their old habitats, thus repairing (many researchers believe) damage done by their removal. There's a theory that reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park, through predatory pressure on elk, allows the growth of certain trees (whose young shoots and saplings elk graze on) that beavers need to thrive:

Wolf Reintroduction

Everybody knows about the rabbit overpopulation in Australia, where introducing bunnies as a food source for colonists seemed like a good idea at the time.

Proper hygiene to eliminate disease-causing germs has saved millions of lives. Yet it's recently become known that a too-clean environment in infancy and early childhood makes children more likely to suffer allergies, asthma, etc. in later life. Apparently a little dirt is good for kids! Doctors used to recommend postponing introduction of potentially allergenic foods such as peanuts and wheat until well after the first year of life. On the contrary, new studies suggest that early exposure to such substances actually reduces the risk of becoming allergic later. The same principle seems to apply to pets; it's nice to know for sure that a lifetime surrounded by cats hasn't harmed our offspring.

Many decades ago, some doctors recommended that pregnant women take up smoking to lose weight! In the early twentieth century, feeding babies formula from bottles was the modern, "scientific" thing to do. My first obstetrician, an elderly man in the mid-1960s, must have been trained when this attitude prevailed, for he actually tried to discourage me from breastfeeding. (We moved to a different state in the middle of that pregnancy, and I'm glad I stuck to my plan even though nursing instead of bottle-feeding was still rather rare then.)

In the American Southwest, goodness knows how many millions of gallons of water are poured onto lawns to make people's yards resemble eighteenth-century English gardens, rather than cultivating plants native to the climates and ecosystems of those regions.

To paraphrase an old TV commercial, it's not nice to mess with Mother Nature—or, at least, we should investigate all possible angles before we do. Something to keep in mind when we eventually colonize other planets.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World Part 19 - Guest Post By a Non-Fiction Writer

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Part 19
Guest Post By a Non-Fiction Writer

The previous parts of this series on Marketing Fiction in a Changing World are indexed here:

Here is an account of the experiences of a very creative person who found that fiction just was not the right venue of expression for her.

When she redirected her creativity to non-fiction, she had a different experience.

Writing in My Own Voice
Deborah Wunder 

I fell into writing for a living.

I was in a chat room, and a "Famous Writer" dared me to submit a story to an anthology he was editing. I did so, and the story made the cut.

So did the next four stories I submitted to various anthologies. I know it is not the norm to have four sales before your first rejection, but there it was. I had the sales.

Having the sales meant I was a baby pro writer. I was working in a field that is open to fans becoming pros - often with the mentorship of pros who had once been fans.

I next worked on expanding one of the short stories into a novel. That didn't work, even with the wonderful mentorship of Ms. Lichtenberg. The failure was mine. I wrote myself into a corner that I still - 20 years later - have not been able to resolve.

The thing is, I never felt comfortable writing in the sf/fantasy field. I did not have a lot of spontaneous ideas to write about. Inspiration did not come in a flash. I was not given to the "What if...?" that seemed to spark for many of my colleagues.

If an editor gave me an assignment, I could run with it, but left to my own devices, ideas were few and far between.

I did not stop writing, though. I went through copywriting for various websites, and I started my first blog. That blog was about financial basics and recovering from personal debt.

Over the course of that blog on personal finance, I found that my meter was blogging; I was an essayist by natural talent.

Here is an example of a blog reprinted to LinkedIn.

If I Ran the Zoo…(Just how important are proper spelling and grammar, anyway?)

This is a repost of a blog entry I wrote on 21 Aug 2008 in my very first blog, "The Dangling Conversation."

I continued to blog until about two years ago, when health issues interrupted my life. At the time I had to stop, I had four separate blogs, each of which was gaining in subscribers and views.

And here is one from my blog titled, "Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian"

I have not forgotten the satisfaction I got from writing essays. I am still working at regaining my health, but I find that the urge to blog again is rising.  Writing in your own voice is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It may or may not bring financial rewards. It will definitely bring authenticity to your work.

Writing in your own voice is taking responsibility for what you put into the world. It is one of the most powerful things that you can do as a writer.

For me, it is the only way I can go forward.

Deb Wunder

Think about Deb Wunder's experience as you decide what is the best vehicle for what you have to say. It might not be fiction.

That is the flip side of the commentary I developed in Part 17 of this series on Marketing Fiction in a Changing World

Non-fiction is a much more lucrative field than fiction in any variety (except perhaps TV or film), and the work in non-fiction is apt to be much more steady.

Journalism is still a growing, thriving field, even though news printed and distributed on paper is a dying industry.  Even with blogging and online newspapers, someone has to go out there and get the story, and bring the facts to the public.  Someone has to think about the maze of conflicting information and suggest ways to group information so readers can craft a personal opinion. Someone has to know that not everything posted to the internet is actually true.

Even today, the best fiction is ripped from the news headlines -- not always the news of today, but news.

"News" is pretty much defined as facts that require changing your opinion.

In Romance novels, the fact that comes to light requiring a change of opinion is the possibility of a serious Relationship.

"I'll never marry!" changes to "Well, but maybe I have to re-think that."

Meeting someone, discovering the fact of their existence, an impossible-to-imagine person who is real and standing right in front of you -- that is NEWS.  It changes everything, perhaps even your own identity.

So, while creativity might be a prime element in a person's character, he or she might not be a fiction writer.  Creativity is necessary for ascertaining facts - as one must first imagine what questions to ask, where to look for missing facts.  Creativity is necessary for compiling facts into a narrative that makes sense of the world. And after the sense of that narrative is established, creativity is necessary for formulating usable opinions.

At heart, a fiction writer is not all that different from a non-fiction writer.  They are not incompatible fields. But each writer will find one, or the other, or some combination is the best vehicle to showcase their creativity.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, July 03, 2016

"Tactical Laxatives"

Karl Marx wrote, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

Therefore, a science fiction writer, or a humorist, or epic fantasy movie-maker may well be inspired by history. My beach-read this week is war-studies-historian Philip Sidnell's "Midnight Ninja & Tactical Laxatives" ISBN 978-1848-843318, which is a well-sorted collection of fact-based narratives of dark doings and dirty deeds to debilitate, demoralize and otherwise incapacitate enemie.

Napoleon Bonaparte said, "An army marches on its stomach." (A reference to the importance of logistics and provisions.) However, as Sidnell's book points out, an army neither marches nor fights effectively when it is suffering from indigestion, food poisoning, alcohol poisoning, or diarrhoea... with the notable exception of Alexander the Great who did not let a little think like dysentery stop him from marching 150 miles in three days and nights to relieve Maracanda (a garrison).

Apparently, Alexander the Great died in bed aged thirty-three. Historians speculate that the cause of death may have been an accidental overdose of pain-killers.

Tactics to slow down the enemy included allowing the ravenous enemy to "capture" and consume cattle (raw) in woodless wastelands;  buzz-inducing honey; mandragora-spiked booze to invaders eager to celebrate an unexpected route of their foes with the liquid spoils of war; and hellebore-tainted water to the thirsty beseiged.

What worked for the ancient Persians, Romans, Greeks, and Macedonians can and does work for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and perhaps for you????

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zootopia Conundrums

I was gobsmacked by the wonders of Disney's ZOOTOPIA, not only the dazzling beauty and meticulous detail of the animation, but especially the different layers of significance that can be appreciated on various levels by children and adults. For the littlest viewers (as long as they're not young enough to find the "savage" scenes too scary), you have anthropomorphic, talking animals in clothes. The messages of "you can aspire to be anything you want to be" and "don't judge individual people by group stereotypes" are accessible to all ages. Then there are deeper issues of prejudice, violence, and political corruption. There's even a podcast suggesting that the movie constitutes an animal fable about the crack cocaine epidemic:

Film Theory: Zootopia

Although this hypothesis feels plausible while the "film theory" guy is expounding it, I strongly doubt that the Disney script writers had this exact scenario in mind. Nevertheless, the movie can definitely be applied to that real-world situation, as it can to broader social problems of minorities stigmatized as inherently violent and dangerous. And the dialogue includes many lighter allusions to stereotyping and insensitivity, such as the scene where rabbit police rookie Judy Hopps explains to one of her new colleagues that bunnies sometimes call each other "cute" but don't like it when other animals use that word.

A particularly impressive touch is the way the art shows the different animal species roughly in scale with each other, instead of making them all about the same size, as in typical anthropomorphic animal cartoons. As a corollary, each size category of animal has its own buildings built to scale. In the city center of Zootopia, of course, animals of all sizes have to mingle, resulting in occasional problems of a species having to deal with architecture and furnishings of the wrong size. Also, the writers used the real-world statistic that predators outnumber prey ten to one as a vital plot element.

Some questions about this world remain unanswered: Do all animals age at the same rate regardless of species? That appears to be the case with the example of Nick Wilde, the fox. Mammals (the only animals we see, and apparently the only ones who are sapient) seem to age at a human rate. What about breeding patterns? Judy has over 200 siblings. We aren't told whether they're produced in litters (it would seem impossible for a mother rabbit to have that many offspring otherwise). The shrew bride shows up heavily pregnant soon after her wedding, hinting that rodents breed fast, as in the real world. Yet instead of a litter, she appears to have only one prospective child (as indicated in a comment from her father, Mr. Big).

I don't remember seeing any domestic-type dogs or cats, only wolves and varieties of wild felines. Maybe this omission is a deliberate result of the absence of Homo sapiens from this version of Earth. Apparently this world has never had any human inhabitants. Since dogs and cats as we know them evolved through domestication from wolves and small wildcats, it would make sense that the former don't exist where human interference in their evolution never occurred.

Most glaring, what do the predators eat? If only mammals have consciousness and intelligence, the carnivores could eat fish (as in the Redwall series, where most fish seem to be "fair game" for food), insects (as in THE LION KING), and birds. No mention of this issue appears in the movie, though, at least as it applies to present-day civilized society. Harking back to the savage past, at one point Nick Wilde challenges Judy on whether she's secretly afraid he'll eat her.

From a writer's perspective, it's interesting that the movie was originally framed in the viewpoint of Nick, the cynical, streetwise con man. That version was much darker, focusing on the restrictions predators suffered under the rule of the fearful prey-animal majority. The creators eventually realized that the story needed to be told from the viewpoint of Judy, the idealistic young rookie from the country who comes to the big city eager "to make the world a better place," convinced that all animals live together in harmony in Zootopia. As her adventures unfold, she faces the dark side of her society as well as her own latent prejudices. If the story had been told through the eyes of Nick, who already knows Zootopia isn't a pure utopia, it would have been quite different and not nearly so strong (not to mention too violent and depressing for Disney's target child audience).

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Astrology Just For Writers, Part 14 - Science Catches Up

Astrology Just For Writers
Part 14
Science Catches Up
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Here is the index to this long series on Astrology Just For Writers.

Here is the specific blog entry I did in 2009 about how a writer can study an audience, choose an audience, and target that audience by depicting the Characters in a "realistic" way.

When you use Astrology to build a Character, people understand that Character and their "life" and motives non-verbally.  You don't have to "believe" astrology (I recommend that you don't), but you can use it in a way nobody would notice, to achieve powerful results.

Here is an item that turned up in March, 2016, pinpointing the millenial generation as narcisistic.

This is the beginning of asking the right questions of people, but asking for subjective evaluations is a bare beginning.  Objective measurements must follow.  It will be fascinating.

Note, in Astrology Just For Writers Part 6, the list of where Pluto (in Scorpio) and Neptune (in Sagittarius) were in 1985 which is way down inside my post.  Pluto and Neptune (along with Uranus and Saturn) frame the life experiences impacting character development.

What you seem to be on the outside is not what you actually are on the inside.  You see and evaluate others through the filter of what you are inside (Sun, Moon), and what you seem to be on the outside (Ascendant).

Read this blog series  on Astrology Just For Writers to see what you can learn about your current target audience, and about how to depict a Character born in those years.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, June 26, 2016

As Goes Music....?

In brief, apparently the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it is absolutely fine for one musician to cut and paste a particularly good bit of someone else's copyrighted work into their own new work.

Is .23 seconds minimal?  One might think so, even if the new work is 120 seconds long.  How, though, would that compare to, say, cutting and pasting a 230-word scene from a 120,000 word novel?  Acceptable?  What do you think.

All the best,


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Who You Know

An essay by Kameron Hurley about why relationships matter in the publishing business:

Hard Publishing Truths

She describes how a multi-layered network of personal connections led to the publication of her first book. The most brilliant novel ever written won't get published if it never gets seen by the right editor.

Other things being equal—a choice between two stories of similar quality when there isn't room for both, for instance—it makes sense for an editor to choose the one by an author whose name recognition will attract readers. Many academic journals practice blind reading of submissions, with the author's name unknown to the acquiring editor until the decision is made. While I understand the sound reasons for this custom, I don't think blind reading is always appropriate. Sometimes the identity of the author IS an important factor in the decision whether or not to publish. Given two equally good articles on a certain work of literature, for example, wouldn't the one by a recognized authority on that work be legitimately of more interest to the journal's readers than one by a novice critic?

I've had my own peculiar experience with blind reading by a fiction publisher. After I sent the sequel to one of my vampire novels (which had won an EPPIE Award) to the publisher, it languished unread in the slush pile for months, because the company had adopted the policy of stripping author names from submissions. When I finally queried about the sequel's status, and the chief editor realized what had happened, they quickly accepted the book (and dropped the blind-reading procedure).

My first published novel, SHADOW OF THE BEAST, got into print partly because of a personal connection. The head of a commercial design company, a devoted horror fan, decided to start a small press publishing horror novels. Some years earlier, he had edited a high-quality vampire fanzine, which printed a couple of my stories. Therefore, when I submitted my werewolf novel to his new venture, he knew me and was predisposed to favor my book.

Odd circumstances led to the inclusion of my story "Prey of the Goat" in THE SHUB-NIGGURATH CYCLE, a Lovecraftian anthology from Chaosium. The story had previously been tentatively accepted by Lin Carter (no relation) for his "Weird Tales" anthology series. The series ceased publication before it got around to my piece. After Lin Carter's death, the editor of THE SHUB-NIGGURATH CYCLE, who'd acquired copies of the unpubbed works from the Weird Tales anthologies, phoned me out of the blue to ask permission to include my tale. One moral of this incident: Be sure people can find and contact you.

Of course, such connections work only if the book or story itself measures up to expectations!

Still, Hurley makes very good points about the "meritocracy" illusion that if one writes a good book, the rest will automatically follow. "But writing a good book is no more a magical recipe for success than ‘working hard’ is a guarantee one will retain gainful employment. As in any industry, there are simply too many factors at play."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Depiction Part 15 - Depicting Cultural Values

Depiction Part 15 - Depicting Cultural Values 
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Nothing could be more intangible than Romance.  You can't see it, taste it, photograph it, measure it, weight it.  You can feel it only with "emotions" -- not the skin receptors that tell you something is rough or smooth.

Likewise, "Values" and even "Culture" are invisible, intangible, imaginary.

But to write a story, the writer must depict (create something the reader can imagine seeing, tasting, weighing) those intangible properties.

We do it the way a Physicist hunts for particles -- in a bubble chamber.  A particle whizzes through a medium leaving a trail of bubbles behind it.  By measuring the bubble trail, the physicist can identify the particle by charge, size, weight if it has any, and so on.

In other words, we investigate and identify our real world by the effect that intangibles have on the tangible.

And they do have effects!  

Romance makes people behave "crazy" -- take ridiculous risks, quit jobs with no prospects in sight to move across country or the world, just to be with a particular person.

Why choose that particular person? There are lots of unattached persons where you are -- why move?  Intangibles!  A person's character is composed of intangibles that have a pronounced effect on the way the person behaves, and those quirky behaviors make all the difference.

Most website based match making services will put some weight on the Politics or political values a person holds, matching to someone of similar values.  

But many successful marriages that reach Happily Ever After are composed of people of the opposite values.

We say "Opposites Attract" -- and story requires conflict, so writers know opposites make for great Conflict to drive a Romance Plot.

A Plot Conflict requires a Resolution for the end of the book -- a springboard into a Happily Ever After life where at least this one point of conflict is fully resolved.

So the writer first needs a point of conflict the two will fight over, and a resolution to that conflict the reader will believe at least for a moment.

Politics is always fertile ground for finding conflict between otherwise compatible people.

So let's try the Immigration problem -- an immigration of Aliens, as in TV Series ALIEN NATION, always works well if you do the worldbuilding meticulously.

And of course, there is the obvious assumption that immigrants who work cheap steal our jobs.

This is just humanity's innate xenophobia being focused on one vital issue (sustenance).

But this xenophobia is an intangible, a mere trait.  You can not see it, measure it, weigh it, -- xenophobia is imaginary, just like Romance. 

Xenophobia can, however, be depicted as a Culture's defining parameter by using something far more "tangible" -- paychecks, income.  The Economy is an intangible, but the effect of the Economy's waxing and waning cycles is very tangible to the grocery shopper.

You can create images, icons, in your writing as you describe a neighborhood, a store, a crowd of people -- worn shoes, ill fitting clothing in tatters, a thousand things come to mind to depict a Depression Level Economy.  "The Economy" is intangible, but it has tangible results.

Likewise Culture is an intangible, which has tangible results.  One of the tangible results of our culture's version of xenophobia is the fallacy of the us/them paradigm -- "Profiling" as they call it.  People learn as children to recognize "us" and stay away from "them."  The human baby first learns to recognize Mom and Dad -- or whoever provides care.  That teaches that "Us" are safe -- and the corollary, that "them" is not-safe comes around age 2 Years.

Note in the Web Sampler image, the word "blame" is used to explain the problem and the appropriate solution.

The urgent necessity to affix blame comes from those early experiences, around age 2 to 3.  If you are designing some Aliens, you need to know (but your reader probably does not need to know) when in development the Alien child is pounded and hammered into shape with the word, "No!" What age do the aliens learn that when they do wrong, they are to blame and being to blame for a mess means cleaning up that mess no matter what.

The earlier that lesson is pounded into the Character, the more profoundly the adult will feel the threat of free floating blame.  Blame can not be allowed to settle over a family in an amorphous cloud. SomeONE must be to blame.  Nothing can ever go wrong that is not the result of someone doing wrong.  

It is a child's eye view of the world, to be sure, but your human adult readers can relate to it very easily.  It is a cognitive fallacy that depends on a scaffolding of fallacies to support it -- all having to do with the theology of "Right" and "Wrong," Consequences, and the separation of Authority from Responsibility.

The problem as stated is that we MUST blame someone -- we have to think hard, slice and dice the problem with extreme precision, because it is absolutely necessary to find the correct faction to BLAME.  

Because something is wrong, there must be blame, and it must be affixed firmly to the correct source.

If you depict a cultural framework where blame must be affixed, and clearly depict "wrong" as some situation that can be described in images (people out of work), then you can showcase your Characters, their Relationship, Conflict and Resolution, against the backdrop of a Cultural Values.

Like a diamond and a ruby twinkling against black velvet, your characters will stand out vividly in the reader's imagination.

Look again at that Web Sampler -- there are a number of fallacies that are culturally accepted illustrated vividly by those simple words.  

The assumptions are that "jobs" are a limited resource in a zero-sum-game.  There are only so many to go around, so if some people get jobs, that demands the absolute result that others will have no jobs.  Nobody can just go make themselves a job.  In this cultural model, there is no such thing as self-employed.

Likewise, in the cultural model depicted in this Web Sampler, it is assumped that those who take less pay are not also "impoverished."  

Another fallacious assumption in this Web Sampler is that people come in types, and that people can't become a different type of person.  A worker is a worker forever. A business owner is a business owner forever, that it is impossible to lose a business by paying too much for labor.

And it is only "workers"  who are impoverished by other workers out-competing them.  

These intangible assumptions folded deep inside the utterly plausible statements are cultural assumptions. They make the world plain as day. It can't be argued because it is common sense, obviously true.  That's what Culture is -- something so obvious and clear that only a moron would not get it.  

That Web Sampler depicts the web of intangible fallacies with a clear, concrete, undeniable show-don't-tell.  And it advocates an Eternal Truth in our culture - "don't blame the victim; blame the victimizer" - by  invoking the web of fallacies our culture will never question -- "blame must be affixed" and "where there is a victim, there must be a victimizer."

The Web Sampler could be restated as "Immigrants never "steal" our jobs by being willing to work for less pay. They just make labor so cheap, it is cost-effective for us to found our own businesses." 

Most human cultures are fabricated out of a handful of fallacies wrapped around eternal truths.

To make your Aliens plausible, fabricate their cultures (current and historical) out of an equally diverse mix of fallacy and truth.  

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Copyright And Sovreignity

Some people opine that the best writers and musicians and photographers and artists have always starved,  and are willing to starve (aka not be paid fairly) because they love what they do, and will do it regardless of whether or not they are paid.

Some businesses seem to feel that it is morally acceptable to exploit musicians and writers, and to monetize the works of creative people without permission, in effect forcing creative people to involuntarily subsidize their start-ups. And governments and courts support the exploiters!

There are international copyright treaties: Berne, and those who administer: WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). However, around the world there are also small groups of judges, who are making rulings and decisions that may undermine what has been agreed in international treaties.

A high-ranking advisor to the European Court of Justice has opined that ebooks are the same as print books as regards public lending, therefore libraries may lend ebooks without the permission of the author(s).
Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said e‑books should be covered by the Rental and Lending Rights Directive, which means libraries don't need an author's permission to provide them to the public.
Leading to the questions

Does someone need to physically appear at a library in order to take out an e‑book?
How does a library ensure to authors' and publishers' satisfaction that old copies of e‑books do not remain readable?

This may sound reasonable, but under the copyright law, authors should have the right to consent to the lending or renting of their works.

This discussion reminds me a little of the compulsory "consent decrees" imposed on songwriters by the US government (by unelected judges) which is partly why popular musicians are unable to prevent their songs being exploited by politicians with whom the particular musicians disagree vehemently.

It is conditional upon "fair remuneration" to the author(s). Ah, but who decides what is "fair remuneration"?  This could be the camel's nose under the tent, couldn't it?

Also, do the unelected European judges define what is a "library"? Could "Pirate Bay" or "Google Books" or "Amazon" call themselves "lending libraries" or "subscription libraries" and rent out ebooks without paying the authors for more than the first ebook?

Perhaps, like musicians receiving $0.00058 per spin from Spotify, a writer would be paid $0.00058 per borrow??? (I'm not suggesting that that is at all fair.)

Perhaps the EU has too much power, especially when authors, photographers, musicians and members of the public apparently can be stripped of their rights to privacy and intellectual property owing to an error in translation from one language to another!

This article suggests some alarming consequences if hyperlinks cannot be subject to a takedown.  Summarizing a summary of a case, apparently, a well-respected publication that specializes in tasteful photography of scantily clad models was hacked or else someone without authorization discovered where the magazine was storing the as-yet-unpublished images, and that someone created a hyperlink are made the images available over the internet to his audience.

When pondering articles on copyright, take time to read the comments. It gives the reader an insight into how a little encouragement will open a Pandora's box of piracy.  Give an inch, they'll take a mile.

All the best,

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ireland Tour, June 2016

Last week we returned from a 10-day package tour of Ireland with Belfast-born folk singer Seamus Kennedy. Remarkably, through our entire trip the weather stayed partly cloudy to sunny, in the 60s during the day and sometimes the low 70s, with no measurable rainfall. I gather this hardly ever happens.

At Blarney Castle, being terrified of heights, I didn't climb the tower to the famous stone. However, the grounds offer plenty of other attractions, such as the lower part of the ruined castle, a cave from which escape tunnels once extended, and outdoor features such as the Poison Garden, showcasing toxic plants. One of my favorite sites was the National Irish Heritage Park, a display of re-created houses, stone circles, etc. from the Mesolithic period to the Viking era. Another fascinating re-creation is the Dunbrody Famine Ship at the Irish Emigration Experience museum. We also saw an exhibition on the Titanic.

We visited Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, originally a 13th-century castle, but extensively renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries. The present-day grounds display features typical of the latter period such as an artificial lake, classical statuary, several gardens, and a stone tower called the Pepperpot Tower. The Japanese garden at Powerscourt includes a stone grotto, artificial, of course, but so festooned with moss, ferns, and vines that it looks "real." It's like a cool, green cave—delightfully Gothic. I decided I wanted one, except that there wouldn't be room in our back yard. Here's a picture:

Japanese Garden at Powerscourt

We also saw Avondale, the estate of renowned Irish statesman Charles Parnell, and the Michael Collins Center, devoted to the hero of the war of independence, who was killed during the subsequent civil war in 1922.

The main focus of the tour, however, was the 1916 Easter Rising. We started our trip in Dublin and toured the GPO (General Post Office, used as the headquarters of the rising), Kilmainham Gaol (where rebel leaders were imprisoned and executed), and Glasnevin Cemetery, where many Irish patriots are buried. I used to wonder why the organizers of the Rising chose the post office for their headquarters, but when we saw the building, the reason became obvious, quite apart from its status as the communications center of Dublin. It's built like a fortress! The walls are so thick that even when the interior was devastated by bombardment of the roof, the walls stood intact. Kilmainham Gaol is a grim, soul-stirring experience. The oldest part of the structure really is like a dungeon, with bare stone cells about the size of walk-in closets designed for one man but often holding four or more.

The executions of the rebel leaders backfired on the English authorities; while many Dubliners were neutral or opposed to the rebellion while it was going on, the harsh retribution turned public opinion against the English and made martyrs of the leaders of the Rising. If they had simply been imprisoned for a few years, the Rising might have gone down in history as one more failed rebellion. Instead, it became a catalyst for the war of independence that led to the partitioning of the country. James Connolly, wounded in the fighting, was already dying and had to be strapped to a chair to face the firing squad. Joseph Plunkett, a young poet who rallied to the cause despite suffering from pneumonia at the time, was allowed to marry his fiancee, Grace Gifford, in the prison chapel a few hours before his execution. They were later permitted ten minutes together in his cell, with a guard in the doorway holding a stopwatch.

Here's a recording of Seamus Kennedy singing about this event. Unfortunately, no videos from the tour have been uploaded on YouTube yet, so this clip comes from one of his albums:


Interesting fact for spec-fic readers about Joseph Plunkett: He was related to the classic early 20th-century fantasy author Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany).

Other fun facts:

Because of the Gulf Stream, parts of Ireland support palm trees.

During most of our stay, the national soup of the day was vegetable. Seriously—on each of our four trips to the British Isles, we found that the soup of the day tended to be the same in almost all restaurants. Previously, tomato basil was prevalent. A note about Irish vegetable soup—always pureed, where I'd expected broth with hearty chunks of potatoes and other fresh veggies. Still good, though. We had excellent meals everywhere, including the pub lunches.

As in England, in Ireland traffic drives on the left. Busy city streets often have helpful warnings painted on the pavement to tell you which way to look before stepping off the curb.

Hotel beds don't have top sheets, blankets, and bedspreads. Every bed was covered with an all-in-one comforter. Okay, that must make changing the bed and washing the linens easier. But I detest that arrangement, because the sleeper has no control over the level of warmth. If the room is chilly, one has to choose between shivering and roasting.

Otherwise, all the hotels were very nice, although we were taken aback to discover one of them had no elevator.

In summer it stays light until after 10 p.m., a surreal experience for us visitors from lower latitudes. It's hard to remember to get enough sleep when bedtime looks like early evening.

Coming from a place where a structure built two centuries ago is "old," I'm awe-struck by the depth of history in a country such as Ireland, where 100 years ago is practically yesterday. The guide at the Michael Collins Center was a distant relative of his and narrated several personal anecdotes handed down in the family. The only comparable example of a "live" past in the USA used to be the Civil War, and one would hope that's been put to rest (except that we still have controversies over display of the Confederate flag). The execution site in the courtyard of Kilmainham Gaol has become a public shrine, a change that presumably occurred within the memory of older people still living. To a foreigner like me who thinks of the rebel ballads as romantically tragic songs of the distant past, that's mind-boggling.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration Part 14 - Selling the Happily Ever After Ending by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration
Part 14
Selling the Happily Ever After Ending
Jacqueline Lichtenberg  

Here is the index to the series Theme-Worldbuilding Integration:

We've been boring down into the core of the problem of why Romance Genre does not get the respect it deserves with the general audience, and why those who do read Romance Genre have begun to reject the plausibility of the Happily Ever After Ending.

Last week, in Depiction Part 14, we circled around the methodology of depicting cultural shifts as part of giving a novel "depth" -- by showing rather than telling the way the protagonist's world has changed from the world their grandparents grew up in.

Now we "get into the weeds" by confronting nasty truths that need to be omitted from Romance Genre in order to create the "mood."

Yet without those truths (theme) being part of the protagonist's world (worldbuilding) there is no verisimilitude.  Without verisimilitude, the reader can no "suspend disbelief" and follow your Romance plot into a relationship with an Alien - a non-human from way out there.

Great science fiction always includes exciting scientific speculation as the solution to the problem, but problem-solving ability in humans always stems from the personal relationships (warped, ordinary, or non-existent) of the problem solver.

Humans are driven to solve problems by the effect of the problem on those they love.   Sometimes it is "self-love" (narcissism) that is the driver, but the power building up behind that dam of emotions will explode outward the moment a Love is spotted.  Even a narcissist can throw him/herself into the breach for Love.  When that happens, Love truly conquers all.

There it is - an unpardonable gaffe in our modern society where your reader resides. Love Conquers All.

The mechanism by which the conquering happens is as imaginary as the "science" used in science fiction.  And in truth, Imagination (Neptune) is the targeting mechanism of Magic and Science both. What humans can imagine, humanity can accomplish.

You've seen that with Star Trek from the 1960's.

How many of the imaginary, impossible, "instruments" and theories behind the Enterprise "depiction" are now in play in our world, changing our world? The A.I. computer that talks, the typewriter that takes dictation, the "communicator" that can reach orbit and back (our whole satellite communications system beams TV shows around the world). We have nailed the science behind the Transporter, and are in hot pursuit of the FTL drive.  Most of that work has been done by a handful of people inspired by Star Trek in their extreme youth.  In another lifetime, we may see Star Wars "magic" of The Force come into play.

Just as the Science Fiction Writer must "convince" the reader (if only for a short time) that FTL travel is "possible," so the Romance Writer must "convince" the reader that the HEA is possible.

The HEA is a hard sell these days. Our objective has been to figure out why it is such a hard sell, so we can solve this problem, and spread out the solution before our readers to energize their imagination the way Star Trek energized the scientific imagination.

The writer must lull the reader into suspension of disbelief as the first step, then argue the point in show-don't-tell.  Show Don't Tell is done by symbolism and depiction, not plot or dialogue.  has links to previous posts in this series .

"Selling" or salesmanship requires the integration of at least two skills (usually more).  You have to know the nature of what you are selling. You have to know the nature of the buyer.

Getting a "match" is very hard, so when a mis-match between product and buyer happens, we call that a "hard sell."  That generally refers to a salesman trying to make a person do something against their nature in such a way as to be against their best interests, and for the salesman's profit.

In the case of a Writer selling the Idea of the Happily Ever After ending, the random reader browsing a bookstore may have a 50% chance of regarding the Idea of the HEA as inimical to their wellbeing.

How can I say 50%?  I don't have an article, a survey, a scientific study to point you to.  All I have is the current Election Issues being bandied about by USA political parties.

Pundits refer to the generation gap we discussed last week as a process of "polarization."

Here is a video clip of Donald Trump as a Guest of George H.W. Bush at the Republican Convention where he said some "Republican Things" when he was in his 40's.

And the media has been full of clips of Donald Trump saying "Democratic Things" until recently, 2008 onwards, when he started to shade into saying "Republican Things."

Now look at the polls over all those decades.  Look at the election results.  Mostly we only remember who the winner was (we don't recall the losers).  Look at the margin by which winners win -- not at who won or why, just the difference between them in the popular vote.

You'll see a trend of that difference narrowing.

Most of your target readership will be unaware of that narrowing, consciously, but they have grown up in the world created by that narrowing trend - a world of increasing philosophical (thematic) stress.

That shows up clearly in the nasty-horrible tweets posted (often by people who get paid to swamp a target person in vitriol).   Your readers read to step out of that stress-zone, or have their opinions of the nasty folks validated.  Some read to experience vicariously what it's like to destroy someone.  Others want to believe that love is possible, even for them.

So how do you "hard sell" that readership the Idea that the HEA is not only possible but almost inevitable?

As noted above, you have to understand what the HEA actually is, and how it works, why it works, on what occasions it works.  You have to understand the nature of Reality that generates the HEA as a symptom of life itself, not a lofty far-off goal, but a function of the "scientific" reality the reader is embedded within.

There are, of course, thousands of philosophical systems humanity has discovered and invented which assert and demonstrate that the HEA is a natural consequence of being "A Good Person."

Some of those systems are called "Religion" these days.

We class "Religion" as part of the Fantasy Genre, and Fantasy as the opposite of Science Fiction.

Take another look at the cultural shift from the 1980's to today.  Look at the books published and the genre labels on the spines.

Before around 1980, science fiction was the label on far-out fantasy novels that were really about Religion.

In 1979, Katherine Kurtz's first novel, Camber of Culdi, was a product of clumsy writing but profound thinking.

Camber of Culdi hit the paperback stands and rocketed to the top of the charts. Now it is re-issued and available in all sorts of formats.

Sequels were demanded, and written -- now it's called a Classic Series.  I've used Deryni as an example previously:

It was blatantly about Magic and Religion (an oil and water mix, symbolizing the immiscible mix of Science And Religion we deal with today).

Deryni was optioned by Columbia - it is a vivid work that could translate to the big screen.

The Deryni Series (which I highly recommend) was marketed as fantasy, but bookstores shelved it with the science fiction. That publication marked the splitting off of Fantasy from Science Fiction until decades later, the Science Fiction Writers of American added "Fantasy" to their name, "Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers of America" -- not used anymore.

In the attempt, in the 1950's and 1960's to define science fiction, the famous end to the argument was, "All fiction is fantasy."  Which I see as a usable truth for writers, but not for readers.

Any fictional work, regardless of setting or plot, cradles the Characters in a made-up World built by the writer.

What would Hollywood do to Deryni to turn it into a blockbuster film?

Just as with Ursula LeGuinn's Earthsea Trilogy, Hollywood (as TV or miniseries, or film) would change the theme.

That's what they always do - change the book's theme to make it worth the price of producing it as a visual.

Films cost more to make than a book costs to print, but theater entry fees are about the price of a paperback, more or less. So a film must get more people to buy it to make back millions invested plus a profit to invest in the next film project.

As we learned by studying SAVE THE CAT! - the size of the audience depends on the theme-worldbuilding structure that cradles and presents the plot, as black velvet displays a diamond.

So take a look at the re-issue pages on Amazon for the Deryni novels.  The envelope theme connecting all these books is "The Good Guy Wins Against All Odds Because Of His/Her Goodness."

The quality of goodness wins, even when society as a whole labels that goodness as evil incarnate.

The Deryni have a natural "talent" for Magic -- in fact, those that have the gift for magic can't not-do magic, and must be trained and disciplined so as not to be a danger.

There has been a war to exterminate the Deryni because one of them siezed the Throne by using Magical Power and then did serious dirt to the "normal" human subjects of the Kingdom.  So there was a revolution and now only humans can be King. Except for one problem -- interbreeding happens.

So all the novels are plotted to be "about" "Who Will Be King."

And the Bad Guys win a lot -- a lot, and often -- but the Good Guys have triumph and generations of HEA.

Or at least, Happily For Now -- but the "now" is decades.

The Deryni series is liberally laced with love stories.  But the core of the matter is that the universe has nasty forces destructive to life in it, but The Good Guys Win Because of Goodness.

In that, it is like Star Wars we burst onto the scene in 1977 -- contemporary with Kurtz's series -- and integrated elements of Fantasy (The Force; Magic) with Science Fiction's classic galactic war, and the Hero's Journey, one man makes a difference.

Luke Skywalker was a winner because of his Goodness, and the color of his Lightsaber symbolized that while the plot scattered and blurred that message enough for the 1977 audience to eat it up and lick the plate.

Look at statistics through time in America (or wherever you intend to be published.)

--------quote NY Times----------
“The decline is taking place in every region of the country, including the Bible Belt,” said Alan Cooperman, the director of religion research at the Pew Research Center and the lead editor of the report.

The decline has been propelled in part by generational change, as relatively non-Christian millennials reach adulthood and gradually replace the oldest and most Christian adults. But it is also because many former Christians, of all ages, have joined the rapidly growing ranks of the religiously unaffiliated or “nones”: a broad category including atheists, agnostics and those who adhere to “nothing in particular.”

---------end quote--------

That's a profile of your readership by the New York Times who thought they were writing about Religion.

What is the connection between Religion (or religious affiliation) and understanding the HEA as a natural consequence of Life?

It is that notion of "The Good Guy Wins" not because he's a Guy but because he's Good.

The entire "feminist" movement (again a 1970's phenomenon) is a red-herring as far as the Romance Writer is concerned.  Oh yes, it's vital in portraying your lead Character as a kick-ass-broad the equal of any man in her world.  Only recently has the Romance Genre allowed the female lead to be A Strong Character because the self-perception of young women has shifted -- for the better, in my never-humble opinion.

But women came out of the mud of the gutter of human society mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore.

As a result, we have a Fantasy genre full of kick-ass-heroines, Kung Fu Masters all, who can take a beating as well as inflict one.  They don't worry about "good vs bad" and which is which -- they go with their gut.

The writers have "read" their buyers correctly and produced Lead Characters whose guts agree with their readership.  It's a soft-sell.

Now we have a generation that has grown up on kick-ass-heroine images as the essence of what it means to be feminine.

We are beginning to see a shift, though. We have 1940's hairstyles come back, shrink-wrap clothing modeled after videogame characters, and the Soccer Mom image of raising kids heroically.

In 1984, we had the TV Series Scarecrow And Mrs. King -- where a typical Mom ventured out as a secret agent and was better than the men (once she got over being Lucy Ricardo-scared).

And in 1982 we had Remington Steele    where a woman invented a man to "front" for her private detective agency, then had a guy walk in who impersonated her imaginary boss.

In both those shows, The Good Guy/Gal Wins Because They Are Good.

And the Bad Guy Loses Because He's Bad.

Hollywood doesn't invent these trends or Ideas.  Hollywood is in the business of making a profit "validating" their customer's feelings with visual proof, in show don't tell, that the world really is as they suspect it is.

Hollywood doesn't do "hard-sell" -- Hollywood does "soft-sell" -- Hollywood produces reflections of the audiences, at the budget points that the size of that audience justifies. Hollywood makes a profit.

Today, Hollywood is making new Star Trek (that crushingly disappoints those who grew up in the 1960's and validates those who grew up in the 2000's.)  Retreads of classics abound -- and all of them display a marked shift in theme.

The overall theme revealing the unconscious assumptions of the paying audience in the 1980's was that Goodness Prevails Because it is Goodness.  And more than that, you can determine what is good and what is not-good by checking the Bible.

In the 2010's (we're mid-way at this writing), we see a trend, reflected in the political divisions between the USA Democratic Party and the USA Republican Party, saying "The Bad Guys Always Win Unless We Use Science To Force Them To Behave Properly."  And you can tell the bad guys because they loudly proclaim they are Christians, then behave as anything but Christians (advocating war, cruelty to women, and throwing off all civil discipline.)

Your audience  has become "polarized."  They have separated themselves according to selected "beliefs" and gone to separate corners, waiting for the bell to start a slugfest.

Politicians and social scientists try very hard to label these groupings, to figure out what belief belongs on which side of the boxing ring.

Writers have to speak to both sides, equally, without advocating one over the other, to make sales figures that justify mass market paperback publication.  That's why it is called "mass market" -- because it's bigger than any group.

And here is an article from CNN talking about religious affiliation drop in both parties -- more emphatic in the Democratic Party than the Republican.  It is a general trend, and seen even among older people.  The 2015 survey by Pew Research did assert that 70% of the USA still says they are Christian.

From that article, I don't think everyone who says they are "Christian" means the same thing by the word.

----------CNN QUOTE--------
One political issue in particular has benefited from a sea change in religious attitudes -- same-sex marriage. Consistent with the political and legal changes to gay rights that have taken place in the United States over the past year, the Pew survey demonstrates that the share of all Christians saying that homosexuality should be accepted by society increased from 44% in 2007 to 54% in 2014.

-------END CNN QUOTE---------

Trace that political trend (remember the early 1980's was "The Reagan Era" ) next to the decline in acceptance of the HEA, with the rise of the Kick Ass Heroine.

Just because you see a correlation in the graphic curve, don't assume there's a cause-effect relationship.

But you can build a world around the theme that there is a cause-effect relationship between religious views, a particular standard of what constitute's the Good that Wins Because it's Good, and the accessibility of the HEA to your Characters.

You build the world your Characters must puzzle out, build its physics, chemistry, biology, its science, in such a way as to reveal to the reader what is "Good" and how the practice of "Good" generates success.

In our real, everyday world that your reader lives in, we see that Bad always wins. Just listen to what Bernie Sanders has said while running for President.  He's popular because he paints an accurate picture of what his voters see in their world.  He validates their view of their world, deplores it with them, and points to the solutions that seem obvious to his voters.

Donald Trump does the same thing, making it clear he shares his voters' assessment of reality and will apply the rules of Good Guy Behavior to solve those problems.

Both are problem-solvers writ large.  Both engage their audience's sense that Goodness Will Prevail "if only" we do what Good Guys do.

They differ on what "Good" actually is.

Don't forget to check out Ted Cruz and his followers, assessing what they think is the "Good" action that will lead to an HEA for the country.

Tease all this political theater apart until you can see the Theme and the Worldbuilding as separate factors in our real world.  In the everyday reality, they are so entangled very few specialists can ever tease them apart. Practicing separation of Theme from World is what writers do as compulsively and incessantly as we people-watch.

Once you can see your reader's everyday reality as composed of theme and a world that illustrates that theme, you can choose new content for the theme element and new content for the world element, then re-integrate your created ingredients into a story that all readers can believe (for a while.).

We read fiction to believe something we actually don't believe, just to try it on for a while. We read to walk a mile in someone else's moccasins.  We read Alien Romance to grasp an bizarre and impossible problem, and then problem-solve along with the Characters, rooting for the Good Guy to win because he/she is Good.

Here's a post in the Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration series that pertains to this idea of what Goodness is and what properties the world has to have to tilt probability so that Goodness causes Winning, at least when pitted against Not-Goodness.

Ponder the relationship between the world you live in and the forces that shape probability around you. That's what Magic and Fantasy generally depict - a world where human will, emotion, intention, shape consequences.  In science, nothing you think or feel matters in terms of the working of physical laws.

In science, what you do causes what happens.

In magic, who you ARE causes what happens.

Are these two views of reality irreconcilable?

What if you write a Romance between one who lives in a world where who you are does not matter (e.g. where it is stupid to believe in the HEA) and one who lives in a world where the way to achieve the HEA is to  become the Good Guy by strengthening Character (not body).

What does she see in him?  What does he see in her?

You can do that story in any setting and sparks will fly, readers of every stripe will flock to the book.

It is the pattern behind the TV Series, X-Files which we discussed briefly in Part 13 of this series on Theme-Worldbuilding Integration.

And just for good measure, here is an article about great, bestselling writers telling you that good people don't make good Characters.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg