Thursday, March 21, 2019

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Last Wednesday through Saturday, the 2019 ICFA met in Orlando. As usual, it was wonderful to spend four days in Florida in March. Days were pleasantly warm, and the predicted off-and-on rain never appeared. The organization is considering changes to the date and/or location of the conference. For the first time, I attended the annual business meeting, just to hear the discussion on this issue and the results of the membership survey about it. I'm happy with the present set-up except for one point, the risk of airline delays in March. March in Florida falls in the "high season," with expensive hotel rates, so a change could save money and avoid rises in cost for members who couldn't afford to pay more. The long-time conference chair (about to retire from that role after thirty-five years—we'll miss him!) and his assistant presented a detailed explanation of the factors that go into hotel convention prices and the process of negotiating with hotels. Two major alternatives suggested were Toronto or a different venue in Orlando, with other choices also discussed. Naturally, no decision has been reached yet. The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) plans to send out another survey to get an updated sense of the membership's preferences now that more information has been supplied. Being naturally averse to change, I don't like the idea of leaving a pleasant location I'm used to, but I have faith that the IAFA officers will make the best decision for the majority. Like any change, of course, whatever happens will be good for some people and unfavorable to others, especially since U. S. residents, North Americans in general, and the smaller percentage of attendees from overseas all have different needs.

The Lord Ruthven Assembly—the vampire and revenant division of IAFA—presented its annual awards. The fiction winner was EUROPEAN TRAVEL FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN, by Theodora Goss. The nonfiction award went to I AM LEGEND AS AMERICAN MYTH, by Amy Ransom. For the first time, as far as I know, both winners were present at the Saturday night banquet to receive their recognition, which was quite a thrill. Since 2019 marks the bicentennial of John Polidori's "The Vampyre"—the first known prose vampire fiction in English, the story with Lord Ruthven as the enigmatic villain—we had a panel about the influence of that work. The theme of the con was "Politics and Conflict," so the panel nominally dealt with the politics of the characters' social status and relationships but in practice ranged more widely. At the LRA evening meeting, after the business portion we screened an obscure horror film, THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST, based on or at least inspired by Polidori's tale. Only an hour long, the movie was co-written by classic SF author Leigh Brackett (who also worked on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK). It was better than I expected, actually quite worth watching. It also contains more elements from "The Vampyre" than I'd expected from reading the Wikipedia summary; these include the vampire's "death" and revival by moonlight, the hero's inability to tell anyone about these events, and his being incapacitated with a fever while the vampire, who poses as a concerned friend, courts the heroine (in this case, the hero's fiancee instead of his sister as in the original story). In the most significant alteration, the movie takes place in equatorial Africa instead of Greece and England.

The author guest of honor, G. Willow Wilson, although also a novelist, is mainly known for her work in comics and graphic novels, especially MS. MARVEL. Her after-lunch speech on Thursday was lively and thought-provoking. She reminded us that comics have always had a "political" dimension, often invisible to both creators and audiences because of its mainstream nature. In the case of her work, though, because she isn't an Anglo male writer, her very existence in the field is regarded as "political" no matter how innocuous her content may be. She described a hate-mail electronic message she received, whose sender went to the trouble of printing every line in a different-colored font. She noted that the wildly successful MS. MARVEL was expected to last only about ten issues, because its heroine falls under the "trifecta of death"—a new, female, minority character. Wilson also raised the question of who "owns" a creative product—the fans, the writers, the publisher, the parent corporation?

Guest scholar Mark Bould, who has written extensively on science fiction, delivered the after-lunch talk on Friday. He remarked, "We need better stories," and highlighted the surge in zombie films in recent years. He characterized this trope as a "disastrous, dehumanizing, deadly story." Instead, he advocates for a narrative of "less work, more life." His theme was openly political, focusing on a "post-capitalist, post-scarcity" society that would produce luxury for all. I was especially struck by his statement about the role of speculative fiction in exposing what's thought to be "natural" and inevitable as contingent and making the supposedly "impossible" seem attainable.

One unique feature of this year's event: A display of memorabilia from the entire forty-year span of the conference. It was mildly mind-boggling to contemplate the modest programs of the earliest years contrasted with the book-sized directories of more recent conference programming.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Theme-Conflict Integration Part 6 - A Character Under Influence by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Theme-Conflict Integration
Part 6
A Character Under Influence
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts in this Theme-Conflict Integration Series are Indexed at:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2018/05/index-to-theme-conflict-integration.html

One of the oldest story driving conflicts is termed, "Man against himself."  But of course, today, we read that as "Person against self," stripping it of sexual innuendo.

Women can oppose their own interests subconsciously, as well as men (maybe better!)

And of course non-humans might very likely be the same.

The most interesting non-humans would, of course, lack the ability to be their own worst enemy -- in many ways, Spock was originally depicted as such an alien.

So to depict a Romance between a human who can thwart their own interests and a non-human who lacks that trait (and thus doesn't really understand it), one must first examine the issue of "Internal Conflict" and how such a conflict is resolved to reader satisfaction.

Once the writer has a clean, easily expressed theory of how humans oppose themselves internally (and why, and when), then it becomes easy to design the Alien Soul Mate for the human main character.

Concocting a Science Fiction theory of human psychology has at least two main parts:

A) Name the two parts inside humans that could possibly conflict?

B) Name the part that wins.

We have extant theories of Conscious/Subconscious, Yin/Yang, and Body/Soul.

Maybe all of them operate simultaneously -- or maybe none of them are true, just useful approximations.

Choose which maybe you want to use for your Worldbuilding.

Yes, these 3 choices for the 2 parts of humans that cause inexplicable behavior (like falling in love, for example), define 3 separate and different "worlds" you can build.  They are elements of world building, and each defines a sort of "magic" that can (or can't) work in that world.

Humans have been striving to define "what it is" inside us that gives us such trouble, as individuals and whole societies, for thousands of years.

So choose (or invent) a dichotomy to insert into the axioms defining the world you will tell your story within, and then choose the Rules of Engagement -- how they fight, why, and to what end.

The most obvious and natural one for a Science Fiction Romance world is Body/Soul.

Romance is about the sweeping force that dissolves the personality's bonds to "reality" -- to the practical, the everyday, to responsibility (Saturn) and accountability (Mercury ruling Virgo).

People swept off their feet falling "in love" behave unrealistically (Romeo and Juliet), immaturely, or as if they are ignorant of the strictures of reality (an office affair between a Boss and a Janitor, when both are married-with-children).

Romance (Neptune) dissolves common sense, and makes everything and anything possible.  The mental "executive function" becomes paralyzed.  There's nothing inside, no self-discipline, that will stop you, and no awareness of how you will feel about or deal with the consequences.

You do what you want and to hell with the consequences.

That is a favorite excuse in Romance novels for having sex with an inappropriate (or forbidden) individual.

So when Neptune transits hit full force, igniting ferocious sexual urges between a couple, Neptune wins.  There is no internal conflict because the Executive Function of the personality is not functioning.

NO CONFLICT = NO STORY

Thus the "irresistible hunk" story is not actually a story at all.  If the hunk truly is irresistible, there is nothing to oppose his advances, nothing there saying "no!"

Or vice-versa, a guy can run across a woman he can't resist.

But if he can't resist, there is no story to tell.

Story (and plot) are all about RESOLVING CONFLICT, so if there is no conflict there is no resolution, thus no satisfaction in reading about it.

So in a universe where humans are constructed with an internal dichotomy best expressed as Body/Soul, it is the physical (pheromones, physical arousal) of the Body that can (and often does) conflict with the spiritual fulfillment the Soul seeks.

You can use the "model" of Body vs. Soul to create Soul Mates whose bodies won't cooperate.

Romeo and Juliet is again a good analogy, as they were spiritually attracted Soul Mates born on opposite sides of a feud.  Hatfields and McCoys.  Israeli and Palestinian.

Throughout history there have been many political conflicts conquered by Romance.  Kings married their daughters to sons of the main enemies to settle disputes, and history records how many generations hence that settlement lasted.  Very few historical texts detail how the daughter-and-son actually felt about it.  Those novels are being written now.

The body can be born a non-human on some other planet (or space station) arriving at Earth's solar system carrying a Soul which is the Mate to a Soul born human on Earth.

Such a "love" has to conquer all the seething dynamics of First Contact, or worse, the ending of a long interstellar war.

Now we come to the Influence part.  If you choose Body/Soul as your world building dichotomy, then you must decide (sometimes by writing the whole book first) which "wins."  Or more broadly put, how the conflict resolves.

What are the options for resolving a conflict between civilizations?

Well, we have a pattern laid down for us thousands of years ago, which has repeated a few times, and may actually turn up again as we make a First Contact with non-humans.

The story is told in the Bible, and by Hollywood (Cecil B. DeMille), as THE EXODUS.

And the style of the conflict resolution writers can rip from this classic, is Persuasion.

As humans, pure physical bodies, basic primate species, we behave toward each other in a "dominance" pattern, always conquering, opposing, WINNING.  It's in video games, sports, politics, war.  You just have to win.  It starts in infancy with screaming until large hands bring relief.

Toddlers learn to insist until they get their way.  Toddlers learn that Might Makes Right because parents will oppose their insistence with forces the Toddler can't match (pick him up and just put him in the car seat.)

Sometimes, parents have the leisure to distract the toddler or just let the screaming exhaust him.  But the parent always wins.

Later, the parent may try persuasion, but by then the twig is bent and the tree growing robustly.

Basically, primates survive toddlerhood by having their Will overridden.  Toddlers who win the battle run out in the street and get run over by a car.  It happens.  All our toddlers would do that, given the chance.  Having that Will thwarted by Adults grabbing him up just teaches Might Makes Right.

After Toddlerhood, other lessons split our population into those who bend under force, and those who fight to the death.

Any given individual may choose (free will) either strategy, any combination, or invent a new one to try.

But in the end, how we influence each other comes down to a dominance exercise.  How do we get each other to behave properly?

Today's readership is swamped with discussions about violence and the use of violence.  The language of violence is used in News Headlines to describe mere words said to or about someone.  "...Ripped Into..."  "...blasted..."

This is all about one human forcing another to change an opinion or course of action.

In The Exodus story, we see 10 "plagues" (natural disasters, we'd call it today).  The conflict that makes this a "story" is between the Creator of the Universe and Pharaoh.  They vie for possession of a "people" -- the Jews.

Having granted humans "free will," the Creator first demonstrated the reason Pharaoh should release the Jews as that He was better at controlling Nature than Pharaoh's Magicians.  That went on for 5 plagues and Pharaoh tended to give in, but didn't change his opinion.  Then the Creator argued for 5 more plagues to persuade Pharaoh to change his own mind.  The Sages point out that we can learn from Pharaoh's eventual agreement that Persuasion works better than logical equations about brute force.

Of course, we also learn that Pharaoh sent chariots after the fleeing mixed multitude (which included a lot of Egyptians throwing in their lot with the winner.)  Their fate is depicted by Cecil B. DeMille even though Cecil got the "parting" of the sea wrong.

Nevertheless, original sources notwithstanding, all of your readers will probably visualize the Hollywood version of the parting of the sea and wipe-out of the chariots.  The general public has been persuaded.  The general public is under the influence of visual artists whose tools are limited.

The general public, your reader, does not fight that influence.

So, how does one Character exercise Influence over another in such a way that the influencer "wins?"

Which prevails, Body or Soul?

The human primate Body uses Force -- force of muscle, force of size, force of authority bestowed by Kings or Presidents, force of pheromones, force of intellect (strategy, tactics, blackmail), force of Power (I'll make you a star, or ruin your career).

The Body argues by making it abundantly clear that it is to your advantage to do something against your better interests.  Go along to get along.  Bend (as Pharaoh did) then snap back when attention is elsewhere.  Agree to anything under duress, defy later.

The Soul argues right and wrong, ethics, morals, living a Code of Conduct which is to the advantage of the Soul even when it costs the Body dearly.  The Soul adopts Causes, Crusades, Movements, Idealism, Aspirations.  But the Soul habitually Loves -- loves all humans, loves all Bodies, even when they are staunchly opposed to the Soul's purposes.

Which wins?

In Romance genre, including Science Fiction Romance, Love Conquers All is the basic theme, the tenet of all the worlds that belong to the genre.

Soul Mates always gravitate toward each other, like two magnets, snap!  Bodies have to accept that, even when it thwarts the body's purpose.  Souls win, if not in this life, then in the next incarnation.

Bodies, brains, minds woven of the stuff of this concrete reality often embrace "being influenced" -- which essentially means adopting the Group's prevailing opinion, agreeing with opinions shouted forcefully in public, accepting the opinion of "authority" or "experts" who know better than you do.

Souls, aware of being eternal, do not need to "fit in" to survive.  Souls strive and struggle to get their Bodies to live up to ideals, like a horse trainer "breaking" a horse -- or perhaps the wiser ones use less force and more persuasion, luring the physical body with physical pleasure as reward.

Souls resist Influence; Bodies seek it.

Humans have both a Soul and a Body welded inextricably to the physical world.  Any human will sometimes fight being Influenced, and other times adopt the Influencer's ideas as their own.  In other words, humans flip-flop between body and soul dominant.  Any given human might flip-flop on you at any given time -- and not be able to explain why they changed.

If you start a story in Chapter 1 with a Character succumbing to the Influence of another Character, the end of the last Chapter, the very last page, depicts the first Character throwing off that influence.

That is the innate structure of "story" -- short, medium or long -- the beginning is where the two forces that will conflict to generate the plot (to generate the deeds, motives, and Events) first come into contact.

Thus choosing your opening scene as the point at which one Character willingly adopts the opinion of another, you telegraph to the reader that Influence is the conflict.

The Theme is what readers read for, whether they know it or not.  The feeling of satisfaction at The End is powered by dawning comprehension of the Theme.

The master theme of Romance is Love Conquers All.  But it has many sub-themes - and in fact, almost any theme can be subordinated to Love Conquers All and still remain congruent to everyday reality.  I've never found a theme that can't fit Love Conquers All.

If the story opens with a Character Influenced by (an equal, a superior, Good, Evil), the story is about the gyrations necessary to fight off that Influence.

Once free, the Character may choose to adopt that same opinion, and might even become an Influencer disseminating that opinion.

But the story ends where the Character is free of Influence.

THEME: Humans must be free to choose.

THEME: Humans always choose wrong.

THEME: Humans can't be trusted to behave well.

THEME: Alien Values Are Better For Humans Than Ancient Human Values!

THEME: Non-humans are incompatible with humans.

THEME: Certain non-humans aren't so bad.

THEME: It's all right to be human.

THEME: It is not all right to be human.

Keep going to find your best theme that reveals the natural laws of your world and how those laws conflict or contradict each other, creating Characters who fight to exist in your world.

If the inner conflict is Body vs Soul, then the Themes can be fabricated from adages such as the proverbial, "If there are two wolves fighting inside you, which one wins?" "The one you feed the most."

So if you feed your Soul the most, practicing idealistic decision-making, then your Soul will dominate your body.  If you feed your body the most, indulging carnal appetites, then your body will dominate your soul.  Is that true in your fictional world?  Do your Characters have a choice which to feed the most?

In other words,
THEME: Humans are creatures of habit.
THEME: Humans rebel against habit, periodically.  (Uranus transit; mid-life crisis)
THEME: Humans prize freedom from the influence of other humans.
THEME: Humans prize the influence of other humans who (fill in the characteristic, sweet, kind, beautiful, rich, powerful...).

Always remember your THEME is what the main characters' thinking finally evolves into, not what they start out thinking when the conflict is joined, or before the conflict is resolved. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Scraping Your Face... Your Works

On March 12th, Eric Carter for NBC News revealed that IBM, and possibly others, are scraping social media sites for faces... to help Watson (presumably) to get really good at recognizing those faces.

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/facial-recognition-s-dirty-little-secret-millions-online-photos-scraped-n981921

If you have a Flickr account, your face may have been scraped.  Visit the NBC link to use their search tool to find out.

There's a small detail in the piece that caught my attention. Apparently, some academics think that they can freely use photographs that are released under Creative Commons. According to this writer's understanding of the Creative Commons system, Creative Commons licensed works (or photos) may be freely used but only on condition that full and proper written attribution is published with the works or photos.

Scraping works (and apparently encouraging users to "Upload")  is Ebook.Bike a seemingly scurrilous pirate site that has found a new host. It calls itself a "library", but libraries purchase the books that they loan out, and they pay for licenses to loan out ebooks. Libraries do not rip off authors, publishers and everyone in the writing and publishing ecosystem.

Members of the Authors Guild can use this form to send a takedown notice. Non-guild members might want to use this Google form to request that the links to their books are removed.

Another apparently bad actor is Open Library which tries to validate its behavior by making up a "premise" (CDL  aka "Controlled Digital Lending") even though other operations that have tried to apply first sale rights to digital works have lost in court, such as ReDigi.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, March 14, 2019

ICFA

This week I'm at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, the annual gathering of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

IAFA

I'll report on the con next Thursday.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Worldbuilding From Reality Part 8 - Flamewars Over The Double Space

Worldbuilding From Reality
Part 8
 Flamewars Over The Double Space
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous posts in the series Worldbuilding From Reality are indexed here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/05/index-to-worldbuilding-from-reality.html

In the various series of posts discussing the Theme element in fiction writing, we peer closely at "reality" -- the reality of the writer, the reality of the reader, and even sometimes attempt to discuss Reality itself.

The writer's inescapable Reality is that The Essence of Story Is Conflict.

And without a story to tell, you don't have a novel, TV Series, or Game.  Yes, even video games, and very much tabletop board games, are all about story.  That's what the best Dungeon Masters do -- create a story framework for Characters to negotiate toward a goal.

The story framework is the plot, which relies on the problem, the stakes, and the obstacles to lay out the Character's path through the World.

But the Dungeonmaster relies on the Game's various manuals to layout the parameters of the World through which the Characters must travel, overcome obstacles (conflicts), and achieve goals.

The Romance writer, (of any sub-genre of Romance) has to create a World to cradle and showcase her story.

Even Contemporary Romance has to be written in an artificially created world.

Art is a SELECTIVE representation of Reality, not reality itself, and fiction is an art form.

Here is the index to Art and Craft of Story Posts

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/11/index-post-to-art-and-craft-of-story.html

Dialogue is not speech recorded from reality, but words crafted to tell a story.  Dialogue is the illusion of speech, not speech itself. Dialogue is the selective representation of speech.

Here is the index to dialogue posts:
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2012/10/dialogue-parts-1-4-listed.html

Likewise, the world that surrounds (and frustrates) your Characters is the selective representation of reality, not reality itself.

You, the writer, are the Selector.  You pick and choose, separate, combine, and even color or distort, the Reality of your reader to represent the reality of your Characters.

The fun of reading is in filling-in-the-gaps for yourself, in imagining the rest of the reality the Characters are embedded in, but which is depicted with a few, sparse, selected details, a Japanese Brush Painting suggesting a whole World behind it.

See the series of posts on Depicting different aspects of our generally shared Reality.

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/04/index-to-depiction-series-by-jacqueline.html

All of these choices, are selections you make either on the fly as you write the story, or prior to having the idea for a story, or while re-writing the mess you made by not outlining before writing (no, you don't have to write it down, but you do have to know the outline).

The selections are not random, any more than our objective Reality is composed of random elements.  We understand our world in terms of cause/effect pairs or sequences, and that view of reality does produce salutary results.

We understand that causes produce effects -- but we adamantly disagree over which action causes what effect.

That essential conflict is the essence of the story of humankind.

Very likely, we will find that conflict to be the essence of the story of Alienkind.

"When I do THIS, THAT happens."  Is it coincidence, probability, Miracle, or just that I'm special and it only works for me?

For an example from Reality, just try this experiment.  Go onto a Facebook Group full of writers, readers, professors, engineers and especially, teachers of English, maybe a few editors.  Start a fight (conflict) with a simple declaration about how to format a typed manuscript for publication.  Make sure some of your connections on the Group are over 50 years old, and some are twenty-something.

Stand back and watch the flamewars begin.  Everyone will back their own idea of which is "the right" way to do it.

The dynamic will emerge that is recognizable (to the world building writer - maybe not to others) as identical to the political battles in the headlines today.

Humans fight. That is the nature of humanity (which gives you a good idea how to create an Alien species for your protagonist's alien lover.)

When an issue arises which "must" be resolved this way, or that way, and the "wrong" way strikes at the core of self-image, existence, livelihood, or progeny, humans fight to the bloody death.

Sometimes, the issue which brings about the necessity of obliterating the opposing human is actually a trivial issue such as Double Space After Periods (or single space after periods.)

Sometimes the issue is actually existential -- such as who commands and directs the collective Power of the Group (and thus over the Group.)

The Group can be a Couple (a marriage in which the question is who wears the pants), a family (where the children don't get a vote about moving to live on another planet), a town (where the homeless can't vote on sewage treatment options), a County, State, Country, or maybe the whole Earth (where we can't vote on another country's fossil fuel usage regulations).

Actually, it doesn't even take two people to make a fight.  All good stories are about how the Main Character's internal conflict manifests in the Character's external situation.  That is, stories are about the CONNECTION between our internal, psychological, emotional reality and our external, "objective" reality.

We (humans, anyway) are all at least two (maybe 7 or 9) people inside, a lion and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.  We love stories where the underdog (lamb) wins because we all can (but don't want to) see ourselves as the lamb.

Or maybe, sometimes, the same human has two wolves fighting for control inside -- which will win? The one the human feeds the most.

So we invent flamewars over trivia, such as whether to double space after sentence end-punctuation.

The reader may know the issue dividing the Characters, is trivial.  It is your job as a writer to lure the reader into suspending disbelief that these Characters could fight to the bloody death over two spaces.

Your job as a writer of Fantasy-Romance, taking place in an invented world, is to convince the reader that the issue is truly a matter of life or death, truly huge.  It's not that difficult a task.  Just remember, most of your readers live in a world where Causes produce Effects -- they are linked.

If you make one choice - this happens.  If you make another choice, that happens.

We believe that linkage is firm, reliable, predictable, and all you have to do to arrive at the Happily Ever After is choose the action that will have the HEA as a consequence.

Once a human has acquired a firm notion of how actions have consequences, the process (or formula) for understanding the world is inscribed in the brain's synapses.

We become inflexible with age, as we loose the ability to produce new brain cells and new synapses.  In truth, MRI can reveal how the brain shrinks with age, leaving a larger and larger gap between skull and tissue.

Or put another way, the old adage, "As the twig is bent; so grows the tree," is absolutely true of humans.  Science fiction is written by absorbing that truth, and asking, "But what could change it?"

Today, the vast majority of your readers have been "bent" to believe in cause-effect as a law of Nature.  But there is little consensus over how a cause inevitably produces a specific effect.  We know effects are reproducible -- so we are content to "make things happen."

So:
If you put two spaces after end-punctuation, your manuscript will look "old fashioned."

If you put one space after end-punctuation, your manuscript will look illiterate.

Which effect do you want to cause?

No wonder the question produces flamewars, fights to the death over what is "right" and what is "wrong."

The audience I outlined above will "polarize" along age lines more than profession or experience lines.

And they will fight over what is acceptable, and how it looks, and the fact that old people who refuse to accept new things are in the wrong because all new things are right.

Yes, that generational conflict over NEW was fought when I was a child, and again and again ever since.

What you never see in the double-space controversy unless I'm in the discussion is the REASON why double-space is correct while at the same time single-space is also correct.

That's right -- two mutually exclusive conditions can co-exist.

A single thing can be both right and wrong at the same time.

With double-space issue, it goes like this:

When linotype machines cast lead into letters on the fly and deposited them in "galleys" (frames with clamps to hold the type) to make a book page that could be printed, every published manuscript had to be copy-typed by a typesetter.

The typesetters didn't READ the book, and weren't allowed to make any changes. If they made an error, the editor and original writer would send back the "galley proofs" with markup to fix it.

To aid the typesetter in copying correctly, end-sentence punctuation was followed by TWO SPACES.

Another reason TWO SPACES were absolutely necessary is that typewriters could only do fixed-font, every letter and space exactly the same size.  (a bunch of gears, not a program)

The typesetter would SEE the sentence end, and hit a key that put in a ONE-AND-A-HALF slug, producing a space in the printed document (a blank, a space-holder).

The printed book (just like today) has one-and-a-half spacing after end punctuation if done by a desktop publishing program that has that option.

It helps the reader not get distracted by losing their place if you distinguish between sentences.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: both sides of the argument are correct.

We need MORE space after end-punctuation to read intelligibly -- but we don't need TWO WHOLE spaces!

The change is simply moving to electronic files, publishing is now done by word processor and desktop publishing software that automatically translates double-space to one-and-a-half.  The software does what the typesetter used to do (justifying lines; adjusting letter spacing), but the software does not need the double-space to prevent reading errors.

So while the double space is perfectly acceptable in a submission to a publisher, it makes no difference in the published text.  It gets automatically obliterated.

The single space after end-sentence-punctuation likewise gets automatically translated to the amount of space the publisher requires.  The single space, likewise, gets obliterated.

In the end, the publisher decides the font, size, and translation rules -- not the writer.

CONFLICT RESOLVED -- it simply does not matter because nobody but the writer, editor, and copyeditor will ever see it.

If you are self-publishing, just pick a good desktop publisher program and it'll take care of appearance.

So both sides win the argument.

That's an HEA to a hot-diggity Romance plot.

If conflict is the essence of story -- then it follows that conflict resolution is the essence of the HEA.

Study the flamewars, beat-downs, and pile-ons you see on Twitter or Facebook, and how gangs will gather to destroy another poster's reputation or enthusiasm for speaking in public.  Look at the white-heat of emotion appropriate for a fight-to-the-death being used on an issue which is not properly defined on either side.  Notice how usually there are no sides, no either/or, no zero-sum-game, yet humans seem compelled to triumph, to win, to obliterate an existential threat where there is none.  Probe the nature of humanity, then ask yourself what tiny change would make Aliens A) loveable, B) incomprehensible, C) a serious threat.

How do you resolve a conflict with Aliens if you can't resolve a conflict over the double space?

You don't have a novel if you don't have a conflict.  But if you don't have a conflict resolution, you don't have a novel.  You might not have to know the resolution before you've written the book, but it takes months, even years, off the writing time if you do know the resolution (or at least a few to choose among.)

Take for example my Vampire Romance, THOSE OF MY BLOOD.

https://www.amazon.com/Those-My-Blood-Tales-Luren-ebook/dp/B00A7WQUIW/

While writing it, I didn't know the resolution of the Father/Son Vampire conflict. I knew who had to die, and why, but not by whose hand or how.  Heading for an HEA for the two protagonists, I knew who could not kill whom.  I was really stuck for weeks.  I think it worked out as poetic justice, but that is yours to judge.

And its sequel, DREAMSPY (about a galactic ecological war where love conquers):

https://www.amazon.com/Dreamspy-Tales-Luren-Book-Two-ebook/dp/B00BFGG1RO/

There's a lot more to be said about conflict resolution and the craftsmanship required to keep the reader's disbelief suspended.  Meanwhile, practice creating conflicts from the historical changes over the generations in your well built new worlds.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The Importance Of Being Registered

The Supreme Court has spoken with unanimity. If a copyright owner wishes to sue, they must first have the copyright of the work registered with the Copyright Office.

Additionally, if a copyright owner prevails in court, "full costs" don't necessarily mean "all costs".

Legal blogger Jonathan Hudis, writing for Quarles & Brady LLP, analyses the ruling, and the costs that even successful litigants may no longer hope to recover unless Congress writes new laws, in Copyright Lawsuits: Harder To Bring, Harder To Collect.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9cb449d0-1d3f-4f01-bfa9-b3b2cf47ed74&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-03-07&utm_term=

or
https://www.quarles.com/publications/copyright-lawsuits-harder-to-bring-harder-to-collect/

It's an important article.

For another thoughtful perspective, read The Supreme Court Weighs In On Copyright Matters - A Costly Decision And A Registration Requirement, by Eversheds Sutherland LLP legal bloggers Ann G. Fort,  Robert D Owen, and Anna C. Halsey.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=35c292c3-0a50-41a1-a2d9-fd3a7c2763f4&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2019-03-08&utm_term=

or
https://us.eversheds-sutherland.com/NewsCommentary/Legal-Alerts/218637/Legal-Alert-The-Supreme-Court-weighs-in-on-copyright-matters-a-costly-decision-and-a-registration-requirement

The bottom line for authors is, register your work as early as possible, definitely before it is published or distributed in any form to any one.  

Authors playing catch up should be aware that it costs around $35 to register a single work, but that single work may only include the title, the copyright page, the work itself.  It is more expensive if the work contains promotional "back matter" such as a list of other works, or a preview chapter of another book.  On the other hand,  an author may register several her unpublished works as a group.

https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/group-unpublished/

For something completely different, Artists Rights Watch discusses the collateral damage ( ie the creators and copyright owners) when tech giants indulge in a food fight amongst themselves.

https://artistrightswatch.com/category/amazon-controls-your-food/

It's reminiscent of what happened when a publisher rebelled against Amazon contracts, and Amazon allegedly blocked sales of books by authors published by that publisher!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Orville

Do you watch THE ORVILLE? Now that I've caught up with all the episodes to date, I'm still not sure how successful it is at what it tries to do. It begins as an affectionate parody of STAR TREK and gradually becomes more serious, grappling with some delicate issues, exploring character development, and going to a very dark place in the double episode of the past two weeks. As much as I like the show, I wonder whether its funny and serious sides fit together or clash. (Note: There will be spoilers here.)

The jokes sometimes verge on slapstick. For instance, the advanced sentient artificial life-form, Isaac (the Spock or Data character in the cast), gets into the spirit of learning about practical jokes by cutting off a human character's leg (painlessly, in sleep). This incident barely escapes being horrific by the fact that the medical technology of that century is so advanced that the character will have a new leg within days. The pop culture references come almost exclusively from the twentieth century, a detail that doesn't bear scrutiny. Wouldn't the characters show more interest in and awareness of such things from their own era? Most glaring is the Krill (the Klingon equivalent in this universe) deity's name—Avis, the subject of many jokes. Would the average person four hundred years from now have even heard of a twentieth- to twenty-first-century car rental company? Likewise, the incident when Bortus has a change of heart about his female offspring after watching RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is cute and rather touching, but it takes generous suspension of disbelief to accept that RUDOLPH would become a classic still popular with general audiences four centuries in the future.

Several features of the show similarly seem to follow the "Rule of Funny" with little or no concern for plausibility. For instance, Bortus allegedly belongs to an all-male species (with rare, taboo exceptions) that urinates only once a year and lays eggs. With no indication that the writers thought out the implications of these traits in advance, I can only conclude Bortus's kind must be desert-dwelling reptiles. The brief glimpse of his planet, when he returns home for his annual urination ceremony—obviously inspired by Spock's return to Vulcan in "Amok Time"—shows a desert-like landscape. In the incisive, timely episode about a planet ruled by positive and negative social media votes, a senior crew member gets the landing party in trouble by fooling around with a statue of a cultural heroine. As his own superiors point out, he should have known better, yet the audience has to accept that an experienced officer with a record good enough to justify his assignment to a delicate mission would behave so irresponsibly. Even in the more serious moments, dedicated SF fans may notice weaknesses. In one episode, two members of a first-contact party get sentenced to an internment camp because they were born under the wrong astrological sign. Wouldn't it be obvious to a society advanced enough to attempt communication with interstellar life that constellations look different from different planets, so it's meaningless to assign their astrological signs to inhabitants of a distant solar system? And even if their taboos prevented their accepting the stigmatized visitors, wouldn't it make more sense simply to ban them from the planet? As for the dark, emotionally wrenching double episode about Isaac's world, didn't the builders of the AIs consider the probable consequences of creating potentially sentient robots? If the builders had no qualms about trying to enslave the robots once sentience emerged, why weren't the artificial life forms programmed with the equivalent of the Three Laws to begin with?

I'm very taken with this series, but in my opinion it would be even better if it didn't look as if the writers were making up things as they go along, tossing in anything that seems entertaining at the moment. That said, the balance between silly and plausible appears to be shifting in a favorable direction, and after the final two episodes of the second season, I'll be eagerly waiting for the third.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration: A Stitch In Time

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration
A Stitch In Time
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg


Previous posts in the Theme-Worldbuilding Integration Series are indexed here:

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

Posts with two or more skills plus Integration in the title are about "walking and chewing gum" or multi-tasking, orchestrating and co-ordinating the separately studied skills of novel construction and writing (and reading).

In posts titled Theme - we examine the conscious and unconscious assumptions about the nature of reality, our subjective impressions of reality, our civilization's standards of thinking-feeling-believing, and what the writer of fiction, especially Romance and all sub-genres of it (Science Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Alien Romance) can add to humanity's sum total of knowledge about humanity (and aliens).

Aliens are the focus of this blog, romance, love, appreciation, admiration, awe, and fear of Aliens is the emotional content of these posts on Theme.

Today let's look at an overview of the headlines from 2018, which I've collected in an ephemeral web page collection (they delete "old" items before I'm ready) presented by Clipboard.

My magazines are listed here - and you can "follow" them on a Flipboard account (free).

https://flipboard.com/@jacquelinelhmqg

And here is the link to the magazine I'm talking about in this post, today.

https://flipboard.com/@jacquelinelhmqg/sime~gen-futurology-56q0jolsy

Is one of my "magazine" collections of items found around the web -- it is a collection of news items on archeology, paleontology, history, current science, space exploration, astrophysics, and any other (apparently) unrelated topic.

When you stitch "time" together into a fabric -- where humanity has been, where it is now, where it is going -- you "world build" a background for your Characters.

Which items you select from a collection (which I presume you will make on Flipboard or some other service) to stitch together will determine your theme -- or alternatively, after you've determined your theme, you will go find items that enlarge your perception of that issue.

Fiction, especially any Science based speculation with human Characters, is a discussion, a conversation among many writers publishing contemporaneously, and readers -- who may be reading in the far future.

These conversations, a cacophony of noise produced by groups circling and yelling at each other over the sound of other such groups, a cocktail party room full of conversations, contain our past and create our future.

That has become plain recently as backlist science fiction is being read on Kindle and e-book by younger people who don't remember the years those books were first published -- or the condition of the world when they were published.

Thus we have large groups bristling at the song, BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE, (a perfectly innocent song about the reasons why we bother to establish relationships of spirit to spirit, as well as body to body).  Those offended consist of two main groups -- those who remember the abuse that song is based on, and those who remember those behaviors as non-abusive.

So the THEME might be: There were many good people way back then who were not sexist.

Suppose your THEME contained the assumption (unchallenged in the plot) that reincarnation is real, and happens (all the time; or in special cases).  Suppose your plot focuses on Near-Death experiences and experiments deliberately creating and recording such experiences.

https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2018/12/10/what_science_tells_us_about_near-death_exeriences_110824.html

Lots of articles appear from time to time to be stitched together to build a World where  Characters involved in trying to determine the "truth" or to demonstrate a "truth" they "know" to be real.

A quick read-through gives you the picture of a future time where this issue is settled, and not a matter of resistance or controversy.  Everyone assumes it to be so, just as today everyone assumes DNA is real.

How would Characters in that World you Built around Reincarnation find their Soul Mates?  Would it take a near-death-experience to "know" who you once were, and therefore whether this new Love of Your Life is your Old Soul Mate?

In 2018, publicists were paid to bring the old topic of VIBES (from the 1960's) to the surface of popular-science-media ––– "popular science" being mostly unrelated to laboratory science that requires math to understand.

Study how certain topics are chosen among all topics to be promoted by publicists.  Study the world of the "Press Release" (various online sources) where individuals can write up a press release about anything they've done. Literally thousands of these items flood media editors and writers mailboxes every day (in fact ever hour).  Which ones get chosen, and why?

To bring a topic up to where many news outlets choose to do an article (pay a writer to read up and write; pay editors to edit what got written, pay the publishing costs for the website, pay for graphics because you've got to have a picture even if it doesn't explain anything), costs a lot of money.

Check out this article surfacing "Vibes" -- the graphic is just artwork, but it cost money to make, and to get the rights to publishing in a for-profit operation.  Yet two large publishers (independently?) decided to choose this one topic from among the thousands of Press Releases - both at the same time.  How did that happen? On merit? On personal phone calls from publicists?

https://qz.com/1490276/the-science-of-vibes-shows-how-everything-is-connected/

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-hippies-were-right-its-all-about-vibrations-man/

That's why most press releases written by an individual who is involved in the Event and therefore thinks him/herself news-worthy are ignored by for-profit news outlets.

It costs a lot to "get a topic" to the top of the press release stack.  You can tell how much money went into pushing a topic up the ladder by how many outlets cover that topic within a narrow time frame.

Spotting promoted topics is a necessary skill to stitching time together into a World you can Build around a THEME.

Theme is a good, solid foundation for building a World.  But it works the other way, too.  Our World is a good, solid foundation from which to build a THEME.

Then there are all the classic themes about Robots, and Artificial Intelligence.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/12/06/deepminds-alphazero-now-showing-human-like-intuition-creativity/

Star Trek (ToS) introduced us to "Captain Dunsel" (when Kirk became useless on an experimental shakedown cruise for an AI Captain).

Just as with random citizens physically attacking "self-driving" Waymo cars in the Phoenix-Tempe Arizona area for fear of malfunctions, so Star Trek in the 1960's presented us a failure of an AI Captain.

Other science fiction has pointed out the horror of successful AI.

The TV Series (Netflix Original) TRAVELER depicts the results of an AI in the far future over-populated, failing Earth sending human consciousnesses back to our time to tweak Events so that their world becomes sustainable.

Both these speculations have common THEMES.

THEME: FRANKENSTEIN -- what we build comes alive (ensouled?) and turns against us.

THEME: What we build saves us.

THEME: Whatever we build, it will malfunction just as we, ourselves, do.

So we've seen a lot of articles on the Internet of Things, and AI, and self-driving vehicles, in 2018 and I expect into 2025.  These articles appear in spates, and seem to have promotional money behind them worldwide.

Of course, no amount of promotional money could make them "go viral" as they do. The topic itself is gripping -- and therefore of use to fiction writers who have something to say about it (pro or con).

Then we come to Elon Musk's wild visions -- like colonizing Mars. Somebody is going to DO IT -- government, corporation, idealistic religious group, refugees, escapees from AI driven world, -- whoever it is will die, a lot, just as those who colonized the Americas (north, sound and central).  Maybe Mars won't have natives who fight back, but there will be many dangers beyond failure of technology and human ineptitude and rivalry.

Way back before, thousands of years before, the 1700's saw colonization of the Americas, people drifted and pushed down from the bridge into Alaska and down through North America all the way to the south of South America.

Another topic being pushed by money is how Archeologists are currently using DNA and new evidence of carbon layers (in stalactites in a Chinese cave) to follow the dispersion of humanity over this globe.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/eaav2621

---------
SHARE
199
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Early human dispersals within the Americas
J. Víctor Moreno-Mayar1,*, Lasse Vinner1,*, Peter de Barros Damgaard1,*, Constanza de la Fuente1,*, Jeffrey Chan2,*, Jeffrey P. Spence3,*, Morten E. Allentoft1, Tharsika Vimala1, Fernando Racimo1, Thomaz Pinotti4, Simon Rasmussen5, Ashot Margaryan1,6, Miren Iraeta Orbegozo1, Dorothea Mylopotamitaki1, Matthew Wooller7, Clement Bataille8, Lorena Becerra-Valdivia9, David Chivall9, Daniel Comeskey9, Thibaut Devièse9, Donald K. Grayson10, Len George11, Harold Harry12, Verner Alexandersen13, Charlotte Primeau13, Jon Erlandson14, Claudia Rodrigues-Carvalho15, Silvia Reis15, Murilo Q. R. Bastos15, Jerome Cybulski16,17,18, Carlos Vullo19, Flavia Morello20, Miguel Vilar21, Spencer Wells22, Kristian Gregersen1, Kasper Lykke Hansen1, Niels Lynnerup13, Marta Mirazón Lahr23, Kurt Kjær1, André Strauss24,25, Marta Alfonso-Durruty26, Antonio Salas27,28, Hannes Schroeder1, Thomas Higham9, Ripan S. Malhi29, Jeffrey T. Rasic30, Luiz Souza31, Fabricio R. Santos4, Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas32, Martin Sikora1, Rasmus Nielsen1,33,34, Yun S. Song2,33,35,†, David J. Meltzer1,36,†, Eske Willerslev1,37,38,†
 See all authors and affiliations

Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, eaav2621
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2621
--------------

Lots of people, worldwide, are participating in the effort to find out what happened thousands of years ago.

In Science Fiction Romance, we look for what will happen thousands of years hence.

Stitch the past to the future, via the present -- select just certain developments and explain how those developments are connected -- and you have THEME-WORLDBUILDING INTEGRATION.

Which archeological events, and theories explaining them, you choose defines your theme which is a statement about the nature of Reality.

If Reincarnation is real, who today lived during that first push down into the Americas?

Who were their Soul Mates, and what difference did their love make then?  Are they both incarnated now, and what difference will their Love make in today's world, and the future?

Stitch the past to the present to the future, one Romance at a time.

If Love does indeed conquer all (the prevailing theme of all Romance genre stories), then Love conquers TIME as well, and you get another swing at the prevailing problems of humanity when you reincarnate.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Faking Reviews Matters

Every author wants 5-Star reviews, on Amazon, on EBay, and elsewhere. Amazon tries to remove reviews that it deems to be fake (often in the process unfairly removing legitimate reviews), and sometimes it gets faked out, even by its verified purchasers/reviewers.

Two legal blogs reported on the first shot across the bows:

"Thinking of Purchasing 5 Star Reviews? Think Again!"advises legal bloggers Phyllis H. Marcus and Emily K. Bolles for law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=b9e1c66b-8892-43b9-b94e-60659f794233&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-03-01&utm_term=


Also, legal blogger David O. Klein for law firm Klein Moyniham Turco LLP   discusses the same potential of a $12.8 million dollar settlement.

The FTC investigates fake reviews by an allegedly verified Amazon reviewer who was  allegedly paid to counter negative reviews posted by fans of a rival product by posting postive reviews of the product in question.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=1f7b4ab1-4bca-4422-9ab4-622586c621b2&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-03-01&utm_term=

The stakes were high because the alleged work of fiction in question concerned the efficacy or otherwise of a weight loss supplement.

Soliciting "likes" is not much different from soliciting dishonest reviews.

Writing for law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP, legal blogger Aaron P. Rubin discusses the declaration that fake "likes" are illegal.  It is unlawful to sell fake followers, fake likes, or fake views... (and presumably fake reviews).

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a4df0387-61c7-46bd-8715-550f54e7df00&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2019-03-01&utm_term=

Part of the fault for dishonest reviews lies with the companies or buinesses that put such stock in a "Like" or its equivalent on Facebook or  Google or Ebay that they pressure their vendors and salespersons to pester customers for likes or 5 star reviews (but nothing less than a 5 Star).

A certain Doors and Windows company does this to my knowledge, so one cannot trust reviews of at least one doors and windows company's products or salesmen.

Many authors use Pinterest, so may be interested to know that an IPO is in the offing.

Also, social media extortion is "a thing", so if anyone asks you for money or property in return for removing negative misinformation about you (or your works) that they have posted on social media, they may be punished by 5 years in prison or a maximum fine of $10,000.  Good to know!

Another link of interest for newbie authors wishing to avoid being exploited: http://www.writersandeditors.com/self_publishing_and_print_on_demand__pod__57417.htm#bookmark14

All the best
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, February 28, 2019

When It Will Change

In the March-April 2019 issue of FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, an article by Jerry Oltion discusses what effect the confirmed discovery of extraterrestrial life would have on the people of Earth. His provocative answer in "E.T. Shmee-T" is "not much." Astronomers seeking evidence of life on other solar planets or around distant stars assume that if we knew we weren't alone in the universe, the "effect on human society" would be "profound." The knowledge would either humble us, inspire us, or (according to Stephen Hawking) possibly destroy us. Oltion thinks the majority of the population would simply continue their daily lives with, at most, mild interest in the discovery.

He points out, citing numerous examples (many of them new to me), that throughout most of human history, many people have believed the moon and planets to be inhabited. In 1795, astronomer William Herschel even proposed that the sun was inhabited. These beliefs had no practical effect on the life of the average person. As Oltion acknowledges, one reason why nobody cared about life on other worlds was that we had no way of reaching them. However, he doesn't think most people's lives and attitudes would change even if aliens landed on Earth, an opinion I disagree with. Granted, people's day-to-day activities would probably go on much the same as always, at least at first. But I think the long-term effects would permeate and alter our culture. As for long-distance communication proving the existence of aliens, the impact on our culture would depend on what kinds of information we received. Alien technology could significantly change life as we know it even if we're never able to meet the aliens face-to-face. What about religion? Oltion thinks the predicted philosophical and religious upheaval wouldn't materialize. If the aliens turned out to look humanoid, missionaries might try to convert them—and how would that be different, except in scale, from the missionary ventures of our own history?

The March 2019 issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, coincidentally, leads with an article on the current search for extraterrestrial life. According to an estimate cited in the article, based on the data gathered by the Kepler space telescope, our galaxy should contain about 25 billion planets in the "habitable zone"—worlds where life as we know it could evolve. SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is only one of many routes to the goal of finding alien life. The next generation of telescopes may have the power to search for visual traces of chlorophyll. Spectrometer analysis may detect free oxygen in a planet's atmosphere. SETI, of course, concentrates on analyzing radio waves for signs of artificially created signals. We inhabit a big universe, as the article points out; the fact that SETI hasn't found any such signs yet doesn't mean there's nothing to find. In 2015 an investor named Yuri Milner established the Breakthrough Initiatives, an organization committed to the search for alien civilizations and extra-solar life in general, to the tune of at least 200 million dollars.

Surely if these quests were successful, the public reaction and the impact on society and culture would vary depending on the form the revelation took. There are big differences among finding evidence of extraterrestrial life, discovering signs of sapient extra-solar beings with an advanced civilization, and having firsthand contact with alien visitors. Judging from the experiences of pre-industrial Earth societies during early contacts with Europeans, wouldn't the physical advent of aliens on our planet have a "profound" effect? In support of Oltion's position, however, we do have "All Seated on the Ground," a typically witty Connie Willis novella in which aliens arrive on Earth but make no attempt to communicate their purpose, don't respond to human overtures, and basically don't do anything interesting. After a while, the public and the news media get bored with the aliens, and only scientists trying to study them continue to pay much attention to them. Read this story if you possibly can, by the way; the narrator, a journalist who's on the commission for tenuous reasons not clear even to herself, discovers how to break through the visitors' apparent indifference. It's in Willis's collection A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. Great fun!

Oltion is skeptical of the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets, on the premise of the Fermi paradox, the "Where is everybody?" question. If a civilization capable of interstellar travel exists, wouldn't they have visited us or at least come within our detection range by now? This argument doesn't convince me. I can easily think of several plausible reasons why we wouldn't have been contacted by such a civilization, the most obvious being that it hasn't yet had time, or possibly sufficient motivation, to reach our cosmic neighborhood on the outskirts of the Milky Way.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

What Exactly Is Editing - Part VIII - Non-human Words

What Exactly Is Editing
Part VIII
Non-human Words 

Previous parts of the series on what Editing is and why it is done at all, why Editors seem to be (but aren't) "gatekeepers" preventing good writing from being published, and how to deal with an Editor doing the editor's job are indexed here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/02/index-to-what-exactly-is-editing-by.html

This entry is about a choice that Indy Writers, self-publishers, or small ebook publishers have to make, and why they make it. 

How do you present speech from a non-human language? 

Leah Charifson started a discussion on this age-old point on the Sahaj Group on Facebook in 2018.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/996258333717617/

I've discussed the Star Trek fanzine series, SAHAJ which was created by Leah under the pen name Leslye Lilker many years ago, and has been a favorite of generations of readers.

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/12/guest-post-star-trek-fan-fiction-writer.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/12/reviews-35-best-seller-vs-best-read-by.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/12/guest-post-by-leslye-lilker-being.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/12/finding-story-opening-part-3-should-pro.html

Sahaj is the son of Spock and a Vulcan Ambassador with ulterior motives who eventually gets a very Vulcan comeuppance -- and now the Series is following Sahaj into adulthood.

The scenes of the newer work take place across planets and deep inside Vulcan -- and Spock's ancestral home.  Many Vulcan (and other alien languages) words have to be casually incorporated into the stories.


To make the narrative flow, a writer often has to choose whether this "word" is to be italicized, or not.  The choice when writing under contract for a publishing house, is often not the writer's to make, so even professional writers with many Mass Market novels on the shelves, ponder this knotty question in depth.

The general rule for writing in English is to italicize foreign words (French, Spanish, German, etc.).  This is a pretty firm grammatical rule of ancient times (like before Microsoft Word).

But times are changing. 

Decades ago, I decided (while writing Sime~Gen(R) Novels [yes, Sime~Gen is a REGISTERED TRADEMARK]) that I was writing my novels not in English but in Simelan -- and so the few Simelan words that couldn't translate into English (for readers) were in plain text, but capitalized when appropriating an English word to describe a Sime (mutant human) experience.

https://www.amazon.com/Sime-Gen-14-Book-Series/dp/B01N4SG08Q/

One such example is the word, Kill.  When used as a verb, it generally just means what it would mean in any English sentence.  But when referencing the special meaning, unique to Simes, it is capitalized - but not italics.  Italics could then be added to the Kill word for emphasize or worded-thoughts not spoken aloud.

The vocabulary list grew, and is still growing as new novels in the Sime~Gen Series are published.

Here is a short list with spoken audio files
http://www.simegen.com/background/soundfiles.html

Once readers "acquired" (as a baby learns speech) the Simelan word from context and usage, fans started using them in daily speech, baffling some but getting away with invective that just would not be acceptable in mixed company.

So in effect the non-italicized words became English "borrowings" -- which is how French words have become just plain English.

Because we now have word processors and desktop publishers with many fancy fonts -- and generally, even mass market books are not hand-typeset any more, but made from the electronic files, we are free to go WILD with all the fancy and illegible fonts we can acquire.

Here's the big problem -- long known by the biggest publishers. 

READERS DO NOT LIKE DISTRACTING FONTS

Currently, Jean Lorrah, Mary Lou Mendum, and I are re-writing three of Mary Lou's Sime~Gen fanzine novels about her characters, Den and Rital, for professional publication as part of the Series main historical line.  Comparing her original fanzine stories to the final professional product should give many fanzine writers a good idea of how to sell fannish writer to the wider market.

Here is Book One in her Sime~Gen Trilogy:


Mary Lou's fanzine novels used (and we tried to preserve and re-create) many fancy fonts to illustrate slogans painted on signs carried by protestors. 

Wildside Press nixed the fancy fonts -- not because their publisher program lacks them, but because readers in general don't like them.  Wildside is run by people who have decades experience in Manhattan Publishing.  Despite the fact that Sime~Gen fans (who already love the published novels) love the fancy fonts in Mary Lou's fanfic, Wildside decreed no fancy fonts -- maybe BOLD or ALL CAPS, but all the same font-face.

So with my few examples of how a page looks with the limited number of fonts Blogger allows all scrambled together -- you should "see" the publisher's point.

Now this is a decision specific to Sime~Gen -- which has lots and lots of italicized words, worded thoughts, and titles, and other unavoidable protocols.  But in general, it is still the rule that readers don't want the eye distracted.

So, we are still using the Capitalization of English Words that have been redefined to designate Simelan vocabulary. 

From a writer's perspective, either method is arduous.  The proofing is nightmarish.  So the best choice is "less is more" -- use as little italics or even capitalization as possible, just enough to evoke the alien speech rhythm and different way of thinking.

If the choice is up to you, and not a style-sheet from your publisher, italicize worded thoughts, ship names, dream passages, and try to evoke alien thinking without making up unpronounceable words.  The fewer Alien Language words you use, the more striking, memorable and evocative they will be.  Use Alien only where there is no English equivalent.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Lesson On Procrastination

Blogging friends, if you plan to travel, and it is a stormy time of year, pre-write that blog and schedule it. That way, even if there are internet and other connectivity outages, you will not disappoint.

Apologetically,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Telepresence

I recently read an article about college students confined to their homes by medical issues (e.g., a pregnant woman on enforced bed rest) "attending" classes by means of telepresence robots. Here's a page explaining what these devices are and how they work:

What Telepresence Robots Can Do

Actually, these aren't true robots as I understand the term. They have no autonomy of any kind; they're moved by the user through remote control. The "robot" is a mobile device that allows the operator to see, hear, speak, and be seen in a remote location such as a classroom, hospital (telemedicine), or business meeting. It consists of a "computer, tablet, or smartphone-controlled robot which includes a video-camera, screen, speakers and microphones so that people interacting with the robot can view and hear its operator and the operator can simultaneously view what the robot is 'looking' at and 'hearing'." In other words, judging from the pictures, it's a computer screen rolling around on a mobile platform. Thus the user can relate to people at a distance almost as if he or she were in the room with them.

Telepresence reminds me of "The Girl Who Was Plugged In," by James Tiptree, Jr., except that Tiptree's story portrays a much darker vision. Beautiful androids without functional brains are grown in vitro for the explicit purpose of becoming celebrities, essentially famous for being famous, to encourage the public to buy the products of these media stars' commercial sponsors. Unknown to their fans, these constructs are mindless automata remotely operated by human controllers whose brains are linked to the androids. The girl of the title, born with a condition that makes her physically feeble as well as ugly (by conventional social standards), is one such operator. A young man falls in love with the android, thinking she's a real woman under some kind of mind control, and breaks into the booth occupied by the operator. The encounter doesn't end well for her. It's a grim, desperately sad story.

Fortunately, the telepresence robots now in use have no "uncanny valley" similarity to human beings, much less the capacity to pass for live people. So the exact situation imagined in Tiptree's story—with its dark implications regarding the objectification of women, the performance of gender roles, the valuation of outward appearance over personality and intelligence, the devaluing of people born less than perfect—won't materialize in our society anytime soon. If thoroughly human-seeming androids did become available, though, might some people with severe disabilities voluntarily choose to present themselves to the outside world through such proxies? That possibility could hold both promise and hazards for the individuals involved (not to mention the class divide between those who could afford an android proxy and those who wanted one but couldn't afford it).

In THE SHIP WHO SEARCHED, by Mercedes Lackey (one of the novels spun off from Anne McCaffrey's THE SHIP WHO SANG), the woman who acts as the "brain" of a brain ship, controlling all its functions and experiencing the environment through its sensor array from inside her permanently sealed shell, purchases a lifelike android for the purpose of direct, physical interaction with her "brawn" (her physically "normal" male partner). Unlike the dysfunctional situation in Tiptree's story, in THE SHIP WHO SEARCHED the man is fully aware of his partner's status, celebrates her gifts, and has fallen in love with her as a person despite the impossibility of physical contact. As with most technology, telepresence will doubtless have positive or negative impacts depending on how individuals use and relate to it.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Perils of Posting Photos... Even of Yourself

The copyright of a photograph belongs to the photographer.
Photographed persons have the right of publicity (which means that their images are not free for advertisers to use to promote services or products.)

For authors, this might mean that a selfie is the best possible photo for the back matter.

Legal bloggers Linda A. Goldstein and Amy Ralph Mudge, posting  for Baker & Hostetler LLP discuss yet another celebrity being sued for adorning her social media pages with photographs of herself without the permission of the person who took the lovely shots.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=1d6c17b9-b872-45f3-8e01-0054b21f1494&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2019-02-15&utm_term=

There might have been a time, early in self-publishing, when author-convention-goers might have been tempted to snap a photo of a cover model, and later to use that photo on a book cover. Models' rights and photographers' rights are much better protected these days.

Might this mean that copyright infringers face double trouble if they use an author's portrait to promote pirated ebooks?

On the topic of models' rights, Rick Kurnit blogging for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC last week discussed the case of Cozzens v. Davejoe Re and models' Lanham Act claims in addition to their allegedly violated rights of publicity because a company made permissionless use of six ladies' likenesses on a Facebook page.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=0aea81c0-40cd-4253-aa06-ac1d853ebc2b&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-02-14&utm_term=

The Lanham Act concerns false advertising.  If a photograph suggests to the audience that the model, actress (or author) endorses or participates with the service or product being offered, that is false advertising and triple damages and attorneys fees may be awarded to the wronged beautiful person.

And then, there is the Australian defamation case that really could break the internet if it succeeds. Michael Bradley, writing for the Marque Lawyers takes a position on how likely it is that "news" sits and social media platforms could be held liable for defamatory, user-generated comments.

Why is it that tech companies can set up highly profitable fora, but have no duty to monitor them?  On the other hand, it is good to remember that individual users who generate comments can be sued for defamation... at least in Australia.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry



Thursday, February 14, 2019

Theodora Goss's Fairy Tales

Fantasy author Theodora Goss has just released a new collection of stories and poems that retell and reflect on fairy tales, SNOW WHITE LEARNS WITCHCRAFT (with an introduction by Jane Yolen).

On her blog, Goss discusses the importance of fairy tales:

Writing Fairy Tales

Fairy tales, she says, "tell us fundamental truths about the world," which we "don't get from other places." Their darkness and irrationality reflect children's experience of a large, mysterious world. The traditional stories also reflect the adolescent experience of exploring the mysteries of the opposite sex. "All marriages are to animal brides and bridegrooms. . . . You are as strange and unknowable to your spouse as a swan bride, a bear groom."

The first piece in SNOW WHITE LEARNS WITCHCRAFT, the poem for which the book is titled, speaks in the voice of an aged, widowed Snow White musing on what she should do with her life now that she's liberated from the strictures of being "the fairest" and consort of the king. When women grow "old and useless," she decides, they should "Become witches. It's the only role you get to write yourself."

Similarly, all these poems and stories question "What if. . .?" or "What comes next. . .?" They make the familiar tales new and strange by switching viewpoints from "hero" to "villain" or changing time and/or place to a different milieu. To mention only a few: For instance, the poem "The Ogress Queen" offers the perspective of the prince's cannibalistic mother from the second part of "Sleeping Beauty," the follow-up that never seems to get into children's books and movies. "The Rose in Twelve Petals" explores "Sleeping Beauty" from a variety of viewpoints, including that of the witch who casts the "curse"; beginning in what appears to be a nineteenth-century setting, it concludes a century later, when the "prince" breaks through the thorn hedge on a bulldozer instead of a horse. The poem "The Clever Serving Maid" reflects on the exchange of identities between the princess / goose girl and her maid from the viewpoint of the maid, who doesn't want to marry a prince anyway. In "The Other Thea," the heroine has to visit the castle of Mother Night in the Other Country to reunite with her lost shadow. The poem "Goldilocks and the Bear" portrays Goldilocks and the young bear as childhood friends who grow up to get married, while "Sleeping with Bears," a comedy-of-manners story, features a wedding between a human girl and the scion of a wealthy bear family. In the poem "The Gold-Spinner," the miller's daughter, who actually spun straw into gold on her own, makes up the tale of a strange little man to get out of marrying the king. In the story "Red as Blood and White as Bone," set in an imaginary central European country in the first half of the twentieth century, the narrator, an orphaned kitchen-maid in a nobleman's castle, befriends a strange woman she believes—under the influence of fairy tales—to be a princess in disguise. The "princess" turns out to be something quite different but equally mysterious, on a mission that doesn't involve marrying the prince. A witch tells the heroine of "Seven Shoes" that she will get what she wants after wearing through seven pairs of shoes; the poem follows her through successive stages of her life to the point where, having worn out many types of shoes, she attains her dream of becoming a writer. (That one moved me to tears.)

In this blog post, Goss explores the value of fantasy and why she was drawn to reading and writing it:

The Horns of Elfland

She says she "read books about imaginary countries to belong somewhere," a yearning most fantasy devotees can probably identify with. As for stories "about magic happening in our world," they offer the promise "that our real world had the possibility of magic in it." I love her observation that writers, like witches, "cast spells"—"both witchcraft and writing are about using language to alter reality."

What is your favorite fairy tale? Mine is just about any version of "Beauty and the Beast." All its variants nourish my appetite for Intimate Adventure relationships between human and Other.

Speaking of romance, happy Valentine's Day!

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Theme-Character Integration Part 16 - Building a Hero Character From Theme

Theme-Character Integration Part 16
Building a Hero Character From Theme
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous Parts in the discussion of skills necessary for integrating Theme and Character into one, flowing, indivisible, continuous idea stream, are indexed here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/07/index-to-theme-character-integration.html

The posts titled Integration focus on doing two, three or even four things at once, so interpenetrating that even literary scholars can't tell there are several separate skills in use.

Attaining this level of integration in your story-thinking requires not just writing that proverbial million words, but thinking about the Events of the day, news events, personal developments, overheard in the elevator snatches, reactions to others being promoted around you, -- everything, moment to moment.

One way of knowing you ARE a writer before you've ever written an essay, never mind a story, is simply that you observe your world and create the missing pieces behind what you see.  Some people do this as young children, others learn even in their twenties.  It is how you amuse yourself.

You can always tell a person is a fiction writer because they are never bored, and never idle.  Sitting in the Mall people watching, stuck in a dentist's waiting room, trudging down the side of the road to get gas for the car that just stopped, -- anywhere and everywhere, the writer probes the people and situations for "Who" snd "Why."

"Who" is the Character for a story -- an artificial person composed of at least three conflicting attributes.  The Character's "story" is about how that specific individual resolves that impossible 3-way Conflict within.  The Plots of the Character's life-story (series of novels) are generated by the World (outside reality) reacting to the Character's efforts to resolve the Internal Conflict.

The Internal and External Conflicts are United by Theme.

In real life, the nested Russian Dolls motif manifests, not just in the lives of obscure individuals, but on and on, bigger and bigger until you come to the old adage, "People Get The Government They Deserve."

Or you study Primate Behavior on the Ph.D. level, and you see how humans default to the Primate Tribal structure in everything we do, including boss and bully each other around.

Part 15 of this series on Theme-Character Integration is about Bullies, and how to formulate a Bully Character:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2018/10/theme-character-integration-part-15.html

Ordinarily, one would think that the "Hero" is never a Bully -- that a "Bully" can not morph into a Hero.

Let's use the definition of Bully that pinpoints the behavior of intimidating or hitting someone weaker.  The Bully picks on weaker Characters -- psychology says -- because there's less risk of getting hurt (emotionally or physically).  In other words, the Bully shuns risk.  This behavior has been identified among Primates of all sorts -- other animals, too.

THEME: Bullies Are Necessary For Tribal Survival

The argument might move along the lines of how the weaker, injured, malformed at birth, elderly, are a burden on the Tribe's Resources and thus must be eliminated.  It has also been recorded that in some species the elderly or injured go off to die alone, without being forcibly rejected.

The counter argument in the Conflict would then focus on the Character Flaw that makes a Bully --- cowardice.

THEME: Heroes Are Necessary For Tribal Survival

What, exactly, is a Hero?

Bravery is often derided as stupidity -- and mostly, Hero type Characters will wade in where Angels fear to tread and die fighting.

A Novel Series could make the thematic case for the Hero being a creature who should be ashamed to show his face in public, and would never be chosen as a Mate.

I played with that idea as the basis Value System of an Alien Species the two novels, HERO and BORDER DISPUTE.

https://www.amazon.com/Hero-Border-Dispute-Jacqueline-Lichtenberg-ebook/dp/B002WYJG0W/

Those two books, now in one Kindle volume, were published in Mass Market (my first to be directly distributed in supermarkets), and are now posted in Kindle Unlimited and ebook.

Heroism is even more fascinating than bullying as a human behavior, and the attitude of the rest of the population (the population under the "norm" of the curve)  Both Heroism and Bullying are fringe behaviors.

But the most fascinating aspect is how the "ordinary" folks (usually under the "norm" of the distribution curve) become Heroes in extraordinary circumstances, and in such circumstances tend to survive more often than those who practice Heroism as a way of life from the early teens.

In other words, the person who "rises to the occasion" and performs Heroically, is more likely to survive to tell the tale, while the habitual-hero is more likely to be labeled a braggart for telling his tale or a stupid fool for getting himself killed with ill-considered action.

The difference lies in the Values espoused by the Tribe.  The Tribe's Values form the bare bones of the Theme from which you form the Main Character.

Oddly, a Bully may be regarded as a Hero for covering up his cowardice.

An ordinary person may become a Hero by being the only one of the Tribe who acts to resolve an Emergency.

It's one of the oldest campfire stories, The Hero's Journey -- Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars film, who thinks of himself as just another farm boy responds to the destruction of all the certainties in his life by taking action based on the rural-values and skillsets he perfected down on the farm.

THEME: You, Too, Can Conquer Any Challenge

These Hero Characters are just YOU (the reader/viewer) in some extraordinary (for your life) circumstance.  YOU CAN DO IT TO.  That's a theme that always resonates.

THEME: Love Conquers All

You can do it, too.  If you truly love, you can conquer.

What does it mean to "conquer?"

Conquering means vanquishing, putting some challenge or obstacle behind you, and facing smooth sailing ahead (Happily Ever After.)

The Hero Character is (unlike the Bully) never calculating the odds.

Read some self-help books on successful businessmen.  Most all of those books point our that successful people never consider what will happen if they fail.  The trick to being successful in business (which us Primates have structured as inter-Tribal warfare; or football) is to keep your eye on the goal and never "look down."

Brian Boytano, the Olympic Gold Medal figure skater in 1988, is an example (one among many) who explains in training for the Olympics, he kept visualizing himself on the medalist platform with the anthem playing.  It is an old technique, but is re-invented by many each generation -- visualize success, never let the inner eye waver from that goal.

The Hero thinks like that, inside the mind, but usually (for the ordinary person who rises to an occasion, maybe once in a lifetime) the Hero doesn't talk like that.

The Hero is not "self-effacing" or "modest," just uninterested in himself.

The Hero can't imagine that anyone else would be interested in what he's thinking.

The Bully, on the other hand, is just as focused on his/her goal, just as driven, just as ruthless, but defines success differently than the Hero.

The difference between Hero and Bully is about attitude toward personal risk.

The Hero and the Bully both manage risk, but to different ends.

The Hero doesn't worry about "risk" in the sense of visualizing or feeling how Failure would be.  The Hero calculates risk, and assumes some loss, some pain, will occur -- lost money or lost blood -- there will be losses.  Just minimize them, take the damage and move on toward the goal.

The Bully focuses on the pain of loss, tries so hard to avoid any loss at all that avoidance becomes the goal.  With that psychology of avoidance of a consequence, the Bully can never experience Winning.  Emotionally dead to the experience of life, the Bully can feel peak emotion only when inflicting the pain of loss upon another.

This contrast between Hero and Bully is an oversimplified description of complex and common attitudes.  For real humans, not fictional Characters, both the Hero and Bully psychology co-exist, intermingle, and often cause behavior (both good and bad) by their interaction.  (Mixed motives are common.)

For the sake of Building a Hero Character out of Theme, we have to simplify life into a statement.  That's how Fiction reveals truths that are stranger than Reality -- distill out a threat, an element, a component of "life" and showcase that Truth against black velvet with a single, pure white light sparkling off it.

Fiction is an art that uses emotion as its pigments and a carefully "staged" reality as the backdrop.  I suspect the reader/viewer supplies the light, which is why no two readers read the same book.  The book the writer wrote is not the book the reader reads -- because the Characters and Events are "seen in a different light."

Consider how the envelope THEME of Romance Genre is "Love Conquers All."  The THEME for your novel, to be Romance of any sub-genre, Paranormal or Science Fiction, has to be a sub-set of "Love Conquers All."

We all know and love dozens (if not hundreds) of novels using the THEME "Love Can Conquer A Hero."  Almost all the "Get Spock" sub-genre of STAR TREK fanfic is about how love conquers Spock.

Whatever the opposing force in conflict with the Main Characters - Love has to Conquer that force.

Which brings us to Worldbuilding.  To make an intangible like "Love" into a force to be reckoned with in everyday Reality, you must build a World where the physics, math and chemistry are designed (from the speed of light on up) for a human emotion to interact with manifest events.

THEME: Souls Are Real

So therefore Soul Mates can exist, meet, fight, recognize and merge to create new life.  If Souls aren't real, then that process can't happen.

So if souls aren't real, something ELSE is going on -- because we all know of the Great Loves that have moved History.

"What else is going on instead of the reality of Souls?" is the "light" in which the reader sees the story.

The reason "Happily Ever After" is so routinely scoffed at is simply that the reader is seeing the Romance story of Love (a tangible force) Conquering anything, "in the wrong light."

Creating your Hero Character (male and female) to be visible to the non-Romance fan Reader/Viewer in a light that reveals the reality of Souls means creating a Hero Character these readers are accustomed to becoming.

Remember, above we thought about the purpose of the fictional Hero as a vehicle to convince a reader, "You Can Do It, Too."

Literary critics call that "Identifying" with the Main Character.  "That Character Is Me."

Then the reader experiences the story as if it were real.

We call that, "A Good Read."

If you want to deliver "a good read" to the fans of the novel series we looked at in Reviews 45 and Reviews 46

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/01/reviews-45-military-science-fiction-and.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/02/reviews-46-private-eye-genre-progresses.html

- Military Science Fiction and Private Eye Detective fiction (both closely related fields to Romance), you need a Hero just like the main characters in those novels.

Those are the Characters the anti-Romance readers identify with.

So I recommended reading some of those novels, studying what makes them work, and how what's missing from those novels (Romance; though there's plenty of sex, plenty of hooking up) attracts a specific readership.

That is your virgin readership -- hit it off with that readership and double the sales of Romance Genre.

Those novels are set in Worlds crafted such that Souls Are Not Real.

Love is important, but life without Love (just with sex) is actually very livable and plenty rewarding enough --- and the theme of which these Action/Adventure Worlds are built is:

THEME: You Can Do It, Too

Even if your real life is a complete shambles, divorced, fired, penniless, rock-bottom, You Could Be A Hero If Only ...

We mentioned the long-running TV Series, NCIS, a few times, and the Hero Gibbs (widower, multiple divorces, current casual relationships, living only for his job).  The Star, the Main Character, hasn't 't "got a life."  And the team members he keeps on staff don't have lives, either.  They have hobbies and side-hustles (like writing novels), but they have no Love.  They have plenty of Emotion, and Bonding, but no actual Love as we mean it in Romance -- the Love that Conquers.

Captain Kirk, of Star Trek fame, likewise -- and Spock.

These screen Hero Lead Male Characters often "get the girl" but they are empty husks.  They may have some "buttons" (things that make them mad, or sad), and they may have some buried Angst just for decoration, but they are deliberately designed by the Producers of these shows to be cyphers.

These are empty-shell Characters any viewer (sometimes male or female) can pour themselves into and BECOME long enough to experience success at something.

The empty-husk Hunk is a requirement for TV Series because it widens the audience.

By the time in the story-arc where enough is known about the Character that he is not an "empty husk," the viewership drops off and the show is cancelled.  There are too many in the audience who don't find the Character interesting.

In other words, in formulating your Hero Character from your Theme, be sure that you know what makes that Character's Soul strive to live, but the less of that the reader knows, the wider your readership.

Television Characters (and best selling novel Characters) are built around a theme:

THEME: No Human Is Significantly Different From Any Other Human.

In other words, people are all alike.  Or in historical or time travel novels, human nature never changes.

A sub-theme might be, "All Humans Are Empty Husks" -- or "Everyone Is A Failure; some are just better at hiding it."

Study the main Characters in the Military and PI fiction I have been highlighting in the Reviews posts.  They won't seem realistic or real to anyone who perceives the World as inhabited by Soul Mates.  Figure out what the difference is between a World these action Characters are native to and a World potential Soul Mate Characters are native to.

That difference is your Theme.  It is of the form: "Souls Don't Matter."  Or maybe: "Not Every Human Has A Soul."  Or possibly, "A Person Can Seem Normal But Barely Have Connection To Soul."

Using what you've learned of Story Arc and Character Arc, start your Main Character at a point where his life is like the NCIS Hero, Gibbs, or like Dev Haskell Private Investigator.

Then change some parameters, the certainties of his/her existence, as in the opening movie in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker loses everything, including the Identity he thought he had.

Cast your Empty Husk Character loose into a continuum where Love is real, tangible, and clearly affects Events (not just character motives, but what seems to be Luck, or random Events).

Be extra sure not to let the reader know even 10% of what you know about that Character - keep him Empty and lure the reader into becoming that Character.  Fill your Empty Husk with details that show-don't-tell how this Character is just like your reader -- and therefore, your reader can flow along on the Character's journey to repossess his Soul, cleve to his Soul Mate, and create a full, rich, colorful and individualized life.

In other words, to convince the fans of Destroyermen Novels that they, too, can bond with their Soul Mate and celebrate the uniqueness of every individual human, take them on a Hero's Journey from where they are now to where you envision we could all be.

The more detail you add to your Empty Husk Character beyond the requisite Three Main Traits to create a Character, the more distant he becomes from your reader.  By the point where you reveal your Character's Soul to the Reader, the array of traits you have revealed is vast, and define's your Character's essential uniqueness.

THEME: All Humans Are Unique

THEME: All Humans Are Alike

What is "the truth?"

Is it that no two Souls are alike, and therefore the signature of Love in this reality is the uniqueness of human individuals?

We breed dogs to conform personality and talents to a breed's recipe.  We have retrievers who play fetch, and Pit Bulls that defend territory, sheep dogs that herd.  Can you breed humans like that?  Have we done such breeding without knowing it?

Maybe you have a Character who succeeds by applying the adage: All Humans Are Alike  -- and you pit that Character against another whose whole life is founded on artistic fascination with human uniqueness.  Can they be Soul Mates?

Would they have to resolve this disagreement, prove once and for all that no two humans are alike (or no human differs in any way that matters)?  What experiment, bet, etc. would settle the argument?  Having children together?  Adopting and raising children together, apart, with other partners?

A secret experiment raising isolated groups of human children in environments designed to determine if they are "all the same" or "each unique" and what environmental forces "cause" conformity or divergence.  What happens when the experiment is discovered?  How is it discovered (a child escapes?).  What if all the children were embryos created from the two experimenters' DNA?  What if they were all clones, with identical DNA (we can't do identical copies yet, so it's really Science FICTION.)

Would the identical children find Soul Mates among themselves?

Could Souls "Walk In" to such cyphers?

Is there a war among disembodied Souls for "possession" of certain humans?

Are all Souls either "in" or "out" of body?  Or, are there intermediate states of habitation -- partially in or out? 

Answer those questions and generate whole lists of themes from which to fabricate your Worlds and Hero Characters.

Remember, the general reader can't accept the Happily Ever After ending as realistic -- but being unique humans, those readers each has a different reason for not accepting what seems obvious to us.  These are often the very readers who will either insist that all humans are alike (and any ordinary person can be a Hero given the right circumstances), or they will insist the Soul Mate concept is nonsense.

Is Soul real?  Does Soul make a difference in the real world?

The answers to those questions are Themes.  Each answer can be used to generate Characters who are Heroes or Bullies -- and pit them against each other.

The end of the novel, the Happily Ever After, requires the two Soul Mates each, individually, arrive at answers that satisfy them, as individuals -- not answers that are cosmically correct.

If you, the writer, have done your job well, the skeptical reader will experience the Characters' sense of satisfaction vicariously.  That experience could be the opening which will allow in the notion that Love does indeed, and in reality, Conquer All.

You know you've delivered that emotional wallop when you cry your eyes out writing the last few paragraphs.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com