Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Astrology Just For Writers Part 5 - High Drama

Pluto and Vampires -- continued from Part 4

Last time we started to look at Pluto as the ruling planet of Vampires (friendly and unfriendly varieties).

Pluto is the best source material for villains and villainous schemes because Pluto is about Power, the use and abuse of Power, the way Power corrupts absolutely, and how power controls the world from the "underground" -- from the unseen parts of society.

Pluto is the symbolism you need in a novel that skirts the edges of the definitions of "privacy" and "confidentiality" and "secrecy." Pluto has a lot to do with espionage. When is it morally right to keep a secret? (see what I mean about vampires?)

But it has even more to do with the learning curve of the long-lived entities such as countries or Immortals.

Pluto transits last a long time. See the relevance to Vampires? Reincarnation love affairs? Yes, Pluto is said to occupy the spot in your natal chart that your Sun occupied in your previous life, and Pluto rules the natural 8th House so it is about death and rebirth.

Pluto has an elliptical orbit (another reason they decided it's not a planet but a "capture" from some other solar system. Ah, Alien Romance!)

For the last decades of the 20th Century Pluto was moving pretty fast (relative to its usual), but now Pluto has begun to move more slowly as it rounds its elliptical path.

In Astrology the principle is that the slower the transit, the more profound and lasting the change -- the more prominent the change in the history books.

All planets bring change on transit, but maybe the character of the change is different -- and many Astrologers argue that all the planets signify the same thing, change, just the speed differs and thus the magnitude of the change. Pluto's magnitude is the biggest, though it's such a tiny body and now, once again, the outermost of our solar system (that we know of).

Pluto is now, and once again, the slowest moving planet (from Earth's perspective).

Pluto takes 248 years to go all the way around the Sun. So every 248 years, Pluto gets back to the spot it was when you were born.

See what I mean about Vampires being ruled by Pluto?

Since Methuselah, nobody "alive" ever experiences a Pluto Return. Astrology spends a lot of effort studying the periods when a given planet returns to its place in the natal chart. These periods punctuate our lives if you can read the symbolism. Just as a comma can change the meaning of a sentence, a Venus Return during a long Neptune transit can change the meaning of your life.

We learn Astrology from "lore" not theory, and the theory of astrology is created from the lore.

We study people, real people, who experience this or that transit against the background of a Natal Chart that has this or that characteristic, during this or that time of their life, and keep lots of notes. Then the experiences of lots of people are compiled into general principles. The notes on which these conclusions are based have been kept for literally thousands of years.
That's how "rulerships" are "assigned."

Pluto is new to our lexicon of planetary experiences, and thus people are still guessing what it is really about. Mars was assigned long ago (Roman Times) to rule Scorpio and recently Pluto was added as ruler of Scorpio because many of Pluto's characteristics are just bigger, deeper, longer wavelength attributes of Mars.

That means that war is Pluto related, while Mars is battle related. Mars is marital strife, but Pluto is divorce -- see what I mean?

With a Mars transit you may get into a yelling match with the clerk at the supermarket; with Pluto transiting that sensitive spot in your natal chart, you might be mugged as you exit the store with cash clutched in your hand. Or car-jacked. Mars produces gossip. Pluto produces headlines.

Read up on Saturn Returns in Grant Lewi's ASTROLOGY FOR THE MILLIONS to see why the return of Pluto to the place at birth has to be significant in a Vampire's existence. (Saturn rules Capricorn) Grant Lewi wrote before Pluto was discovered, but the "return" principle is the same for all the planets. Consequences of actions taken during the cycle materialize, new starts are possible, and new troubles begin to descend.

As a Saturn Return is a time when consequences and responsibilities rule ordinary people, a Pluto-Return has to be a totally shattering Event for a vampire or other immortal.

The attack that murdered the Chabad Rabbi in Mumbai -
See my blog entry:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/12/mumbai-chabad-terrorism-love.html

- came when he was 29 years old, midst of or just after his Saturn Return (Saturn's cycle is 28-29 years). That ghastly ending was not his fault but was a possible consequence of taking the post in Mumbai (which is ordinarily a very peaceful city). (and I found out his wife was 5 months pregnant).

We're looking at serious, major, HIGH DRAMA, larger than life events here, the stuff of novels not real life.

Astrologically, there had to be many other confluences to complete the symbolism of such a prominent death by violence (astrology can't predict death because it's not a very important event in the life of a soul), but that illustrates the power of the "return." Those attackers were not the Rabbi's personal enemies. That attack was a skirmish in a war that's been going on for centuries, maybe longer and had more to do with international affairs than individual lives.

EXAMPLE: There's a branch of Astrology called "Mundane Astrology" and it deals with the Natal Charts and transits of whole nations and the world in general.

A lot that's been happening in the world since Pluto touched 0 Degrees of Capricorn can be understood in terms of Pluto symbolism, and when you grasp the Pluto symbolism you'll be able to create "larger than life" villains that people can read and accept as real.

So this discussion is about understanding the symbolism, not the fate of a particular country.

There's always argument about exactly when a country is "born" -- and the USA has several accepted natal charts that astrologers study. I found that in one of the most famous charts, (July 4, 1776, 2:13 AM, Philadelphia PA) the USA's 8th House Cusp is at 0:38 of Capricorn).

House cusps move very quickly with the tick of the clock, and there are many schools of astrology that calculate where the 8th House cusp is via different mathematics!

We're not talking about "facts" here but principles writers can use to craft stories. I want to use what you already know to let you see a pattern from an artist's point of view.

2008 was the year of the financial meltdown, starting with MORTGAGES (borrowing other people's money - 8th House; Pluto). Banks get the money they loan from depositors (government loans notwithstanding). Banks are an 8th House phenomenon.

248 years ago was 1760 - the USA hasn't had a Pluto return yet! By this natal chart, our Pluto is at 27 degrees of Capricorn, in our 9th House which is foreign affairs, foreign travel, foreign thinking, and justice, courts. Jupiter rules Sagittarius the Natural 9th House, Honesty.

If this natal chart holds, this phase of Pluto induced change should be over for us by September 2009, but Pluto then moves on to oppose our Natal Venus, Jupiter and then Sun. Pluto finishes our 8th House and enters the 9th in Nov 2019. By then the character of the USA will be wholly changed.

Watch how Pluto affects long-lived organisms such as countries, and you will begin to see how it signifies the kind of life events a vampire would face. Periodically. Routinely. Ho-hum, yawn, I'm bored with existence. Who could be bored the first time you ever face a "change everything" Event -- a lose everything or win everything Event? But the 20th or 1,000th time?

Recently, the Thailand government was toppled by airport sit-ins that trapped thousands of tourists. The Greek government is being challenged after a police shooting at a rock throwing incident. The Mumbai terrorist attack has aroused India's wealthy class to challenge the current Indian government, but not the form of government. Africa is a mess. There's unrest in every country.

The terrorist philosophical manifesto is about gaining power (Pluto) over other people's (8th House) public sexual conduct (physical sexuality; i.e. body exposure; 8th House). Their target to achieve this is the USA Economy -- an "economy" is "other people's money" and that's 8th House. Hide the women - that's 8th House, Pluto is hidden.

Political Revolution is (often, not always) a Pluto driven event.

Being toppled from "power" can be a Pluto type event from the point of view of the one toppled, but the same kind of thing can be signified by a transit of Saturn.

Pluto will topple by revealing the hidden, by sex scandal, by embezzlement, or sometimes by someone else wanting the power for themselves, by assassination.

Saturn often topples by failure, by running out of steam, by enemies succeeding, by losing the election, by a failure of discipline or authority, by getting your comeuppance, your just deserts. With Saturn, it's obviously your own fault; with Pluto it seems to be external to your self if you don't live several 248 year cycles.

You see what I mean by "drama" - Pluto is very High Drama indeed.

Pluto events are about the whole world more than any given individual, thus they lend themselves to drama where the Hero's own personal, private sex-life or love-life (or both) actually creates or topples Empires.

Pluto driven lives and events are the very substance of movies even more than of novels. Robert Ludlum move over!

Noel Tyl (as I discussed in my post Astrology Just For Writers Part 1)

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/07/astrology-just-for-writers.html

shows how Pluto is one part of a pattern that shows up routinely in the natal charts of the extremely prominent -- thus Pluto is connected to both fame and infamy.

A Pluto driven life has these gigantic, larger than life, ups and downs -- from which the individual usually comes back. Pluto supplies both the crisis and the strength to survive it. Pluto works perfectly as the plot driver of Blake Snyder's genre "Dude With A Problem."

Pluto driven love can range from the sickest, most violent obsession (stalking, kidnap, etc) all the way to the longest lasting, most eternal, and most animal-passion driven bonding of hunger and need.

So astrologers face a quandary trying to analyze a Vampire's existence. Is his (or her) natal chart the moment they were born as a human? Or the moment they first drew breath as a vampire?

Does a vampire who has been immured for a few centuries, going dormant until dug up, get a new natal chart when they "waken" again? Is that like reincarnation?

Does memory have anything to do with how you respond to transits? Does a person who has a total memory wipe have a new natal chart when they start recording events again?

Look at this article if it's still up:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7777385.stm

It's about about the finding of what may be a human brain, more than 2,000 years old, shrunken and barely identifiable.

So it occurs to me to wonder what if that were the brain of a vampire?

And then it occurs to me to wonder how a fossilized (really infused with stone) vampire body might respond to being "brought to light" (that's what Pluto does, exhumes, brings to light, turns up, discovers, exposes).

There's this fossilized body in a museum -- a vampire, of course -- and the vampire's Pluto return takes hold. What happens next?

The possibilities for the use of Pluto in stories is endless. Do you see that? Have I explained Pluto well enough for you to use it, see it in novels you're reading, in headlines and current events, and maybe use it in your own stories?


Do you see how artists work in color schemes, in palettes, and writers work in symbol groups that go together the same way as colors do -- harmonies, groups.


If you're writing a Pluto driven plot, everything in the novel (from the color of the drapes to the ages of the characters) has to partake of that SYMBOLISM GROUP which signifies Pluto, 8th House. If you choose from the palette of the planet driving the plot events, readers will believe everything in the novel (at least while reading) without objection because the novel's reality will resemble their own actual reality.


Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://www.slantedconcept.com

Sunday, December 28, 2008

CHANGE OF HEART: the quandary of the comeuppance

Today’s blog picks up from last week’s blog, which was based on the movie, Serenity. (A great flick and one I heartily recommend if you’ve not seen it…and if you’ve not seen it you might not want to read further as again, this will contain spoilers.)

Last week I whined about the (what I felt) untimely death of the character, Wash. While I could see where it had emotional impact, it failed, for me, to engender character growth. So it left me feeling…confused. More than usual, that is.

Here I’m going to whine about the second part of my thoughts on Serenity—the apparent capitulation, the change of heart of “The Operative” who was the foremost antagonist in the movie. This was a man who rather gleefully admitted he killed children. This was a man who clearly had no problem killing anyone. He showed no remorse; if anything I had the feeling he saw himself as some kind of avenging angel of death. He advised those he was in the process of killing that they were dying bravely and for good reason. But he wasn’t apologetic. No, not that. He was a man doing a job he loved.

So when, at the end, Mal lets him live (bit of a surprise, that, but not fully unexpected), he evidently (off-camera) returns the favor and gets the baddies off Mal’s tail. There’s a scene where he comes to tell Mal good-bye and even though Mal threatens to kill him at that point (tagged with the ubiquitous “if I ever see you again”), clearly, this man is not the man who was the antagonist for most of the film.

What happened?

I haven’t a clue in a bucket ::ka-ching to Paula L.::

Most likely—as has been posited—there was supposed to be another film or movie for TV and he’d have a recurring role. That’s what the ending felt like but since that hasn’t happened (though I live in hope), the movie’s end left me feeling…strange (more strange than usual).

The character went out of character. He went from a heartless and somewhat haughty killing machine to—okay, not Mister Nice Guy. But he’d obviously found a stash of happy meds somewhere. He was removed as a threat, even to the point of turning on his former employer.

All because of Mal and the Reavers. I just didn’t quite buy it.

I’m not saying baddies can’t become goodies. They can. Susan Grant did that marvelously in her How To Lose An Extraterrestrial in 10 days in which Reef, the assassin from her Your Planet or Mine? is recast as a hero. She does this through one of the finest and most gripping first chapters. It worked, beautifully and flawlessly, for me.

I took a less bad baddie in the form of Admiral Philip Guthrie who straddled the fence between friend and foe in my Gabriel’s Ghost, fully came into friend category (though not without a touch of tension) in Shades of Dark and finally into his hero duds in my upcoming Hope’s Folly.

So understand I have no particular issue with an antagonist having a change of heart.

As long as you show me how and why that happens, and Whedon in Serenity didn’t do that.

I would have been far more satisfied with the movie if Wash had lived and The Operative had died. That, from a plot and characterization point of view, would have made more sense. As it was, it was the second WTF? moment for me in the movie.

Again, maybe scenes were cut. Last I knew, Mal left the guy secured to a railing in Mr. Universe’s lower chamber, with the tape of the “truth” about the world, Miranda, running on the big screen (without commercials, too!). Okay, gripping stuff. But based on the character to that point, it didn’t seem sufficient motivation for the guy to turn on his employers. He was no newbie. He was a seasoned assassin and had seen—and done—worse than that before. That much was shown in the flick.

Now, maybe what we didn’t see was The Operative’s teammates coming to rescue him and mocking him for his predicament. Maybe this threw him over the edge. Maybe the Alliance shunned him. And so he reacted. But we didn’t see that. We don’t know that. We don’t even get a hint of that.

It certainly does make the movie end “happier” though and maybe that’s my problem with it. I have this thing against forced happiness in endings. Yes, I write to an HEA (though some readers of Shades of Dark may quibble with that). But an HEA doesn’t mean Everything Is Now Perfect. Therein I think is the problem with some readers who want Perfect at book’s end, rather than logical to plot and character.

At Shade’s end (S P O I L E R), Sully is wounded, pretty seriously (so is Philip). The final scene is in ship’s sick bay and Sully is still wounded…but Chaz loves him anyway. Now, a few readers have asked me, “Couldn’t you have just fully cured him then and there and then had Chaz say she loved him?” The fact that Sully was still injured at book’s end took Perfect away from them. (It’s almost as if the fact—the main issue of the love between Sully and Chaz is ignored. Which confuzzles me. Loving someone who’s in perfect form is easy. Loving someone who’s injured takes a special, deeper kind of love. Doesn’t it?)

Anyway, the answer to “couldn’t I just cure him” right there is no. And the answer is no because it would have felt as wrong to me as Serenity’s ending.

Sully made some huge mistakes in Shades. The Operative did some really nasty shit in Serenity. Characters’ actions must engender reactions. That’s a basic law of the craft of fiction. It’s often illustrated by the old “if you show a gun in scene one, you damned well better fire it in scene two…” analogy. A character’s action in chapter one directly impact the actions in chapter two. You can’t have a character doing all sorts of nasty shit for six chapters and then in chapter seven—for no salient reason—suddenly he’s a veritable good neighbor. Everyone’s friend. All forgotten. There are consequences in fiction. In real life we’re not always aware of the consequences but in fiction—if the piece is to work—they are unavoidable.

Or else you risk writing Mary Sues or Marty Sams or whatever you want to call them.

“The reader needs someone to pass judgment on.” Writing guru Jack Bickham said that and that’s another reason why the laws of karma apply in fiction, right up front. And why things getting too pretty, too fast, violates credibility. Readers might not like the fact that Sully was so seriously injured at book’s end. But if I’d lightened up on him in the final chapters of the book, I would have been Mary Sue-ing out on the basic principles. And the reader would be denied the right to see the passing of judgment.

There’s nothing to pass judgment on if all is prettied up and forgiven. The punishment must match the crime. Sully had become a tad too big for his intergalactic britches. He needed to be taken down several notches. He needed to realize he’d likely lost Chaz. And Chaz needed to be there for him at book’s end because her story, also, had to make logical fictional sense.

Her journey is different from his.

The Operative definitely had a comeuppance coming.

He didn’t get it.

And I’ve not a clue in a bucket as to why. Do you?

~Linnea

SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books: http://www.linneasinclair.com/

Something cascaded lightly through me—a gentling, a suffused glow. If love could be morphed into a physical element, this would be it. It was strength and yet it was vulnerability. It was all-encompassing and yet it was freedom. It was a wall of protection. It was wings of trust and faith.

It was Gabriel Ross Sullivan, answering the questions I couldn’t ask. Not that everything would be okay, but that everything in his power would be done, and we’d face whatever outcomes there were together.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Recently I reread (again) parts of a fascinating book called THE BATTLE FOR CHRISTMAS, by Stephen Nissenbaum. It explores the shift from the REAL old-fashioned Christmas celebration to what WE think of as a "traditional" Christmas, the family-centered holiday invented in the nineteenth century. What the New England Puritans, like their English counterparts under Cromwell, objected to when they tried to abolish Christmas had little in common with our "traditions." To us, the medieval Christmas would have looked like a combination of Mardi Gras (masquerading, revelry, and inversion of the normal social order), Halloween (begging from door to door), Thanksgiving (overeating and over-drinking—well, a lot of us still do that at Christmas), and New Year's Eve (more drinking and revelry, noisemaking to drive away the dark; nineteenth-century American Southerners still heralded Christmas by firing off guns). All these elements combined at the winter solstice festivities because, in the northern hemisphere, December was the one time in the agricultural year when abundant fresh food (especially meat, because animals couldn't be slaughtered until the weather turned cold, and then the meat had to be either eaten quickly or preserved by salting) and leisure from heavy labor coincided. For modern people who complain about the holiday season starting too early and going on too long, this trend isn't a new invention; in some parts of Europe the Christmas-centered revelry extended from late November to Candlemas (early February). Complaints about the pagan roots of Christmas and its being celebrated in a secular rather than religious manner go back quite a few centuries, too. 'Tis the season to reread Terry Pratchett's HOGFATHER, which includes an abundance of incisive reflections on both the commercial and the ancient seasonal-cycle dimensions of the Yuletide festivities.

I'd like to post a couple of Madeleine L'Engle's moving Nativity poems, but quoting them in full would be copyright infringement. I think it's permissible, though, to quote part of one, "The Risk of Birth, Christmas 1973." It begins, "This is no time for a child to be born" and ends:

"The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth."

Happy midwinter holidays to all!

Margaret L. Carter (www.margaretlcarter.com)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Astrology Just For Writers Pt 4 - High Drama

SORRY - THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO AUTO-POST ITSELF TUESDAY 12/23/08
This post is about Vampire Romance, or Romance with aliens or Immortal characters whose lifespans reach back into History, and ahead to long after their mortal lover is gone.

You'll see a connection to UFO's below, too. And to Linnea's discussion of the creation of a dynamic antagonist for a novel which I discussed last week.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/12/double-duty-putting-face-on-conflict-in.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/12/villain-defined.html

The problem is that Villains have to be "larger than life" -- Heros can start small, as ordinary dudes (as Blake Snyder calls us in SAVE THE CAT GOES TO THE MOVIES!), but via the Hero's Journey the ordinary dude must become the Hero, overcoming internal obstacles as well as external. Villains on the other hand are the hero of their own story, but in most literary genres the villain has to start out larger than life and get ripped assunder.

That is a writing problem Gene Roddenberry ran into with Star Trek, when they went to make the first movie. "It isn't big enough" they kept telling him about his premise. He'd spent a lifetime writing for the small screen and wasn't thinking BIG. Eventually he hit on villains Big Enough to fill a large screen.

There is a way to do that, methodically, and precisely. There are any number of fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, diachronic linguistics, -- there's a huge world of knowledge to explore that will give a writer a method for generating Larger Than Life problems, people, and plights.

But here we're going to discuss how Pluto may be the ruling planet of Vampires (both the friendly kind and the villianous kind). As you get a feel for how Pluto keys events and personalities to be just like you and me, but LARGER THAN LIFE, you'll see how becoming aware of Pluto operating in Headline News can help you create villains who are larger than life.

So, I'm assuming Pluto "Rules" Vampires and other Immortals.

Pluto was recently demoted from the status of "planet" -- and people have been talking about calling it a "Plutoid." It doesn't matter what astronomy settles on -- astrology is not very closely related to astronomy. (Though I could make a strong case that they're identical if I had to.)

Here I've set myself an impossible task, to explain to people who think "Astrology" is the predictions you see in newspapers, just what use the Pluto symbolism is in fiction writing and reading.

I want to explain this well enough that a writer or reader who doesn't know anything about real astrology can recognize Pluto symbolism when writing or reading fiction.

So I'm going to try to use what you already know to show you something that may have escaped your notice but which will explain a lot you've been curious or frustrated about.

Like most of the planets, Pluto symbolizes change. But each planet seems to specialize in a different kind of change. The House where a planet is in your natal chart, and the House that the planet rules, will focus the axis of change for you in your personal life. That potential for change will be confronted as that particular planet circles the heavens, and you may either accept or reject the change thus signified.

As I currently perceive the world, each planet seems to key off a particular type of change. So let's examine how Pluto functions as it "transits" or circles the heavens.

Pluto changes are the sort you look back on and say "before this" and "after this" - they are dividing lines, or a period of life when events pounded you as Pluto transited a sensitive House in your Natal Chart -- or you pounded on the world and either bloodied yourself or made it yield.

Pluto is that deep well of strength you tap in pure survival mode, but it also puts your survival at risk.

FOR EXAMPLE, a Pluto transit might signify the death of a parent (not the kind of loss of a parent which changes nothing in your life, but the sort that pounds you into a new shape). Saturn also can symbolize loss and bereavement, but brings more responsibility than pure power as Pluto does.

FOR EXAMPLE, under a Pluto and Saturn bereavement, you become the executor of the estate - a task for which you are wholly unprepared, a task which really is way beyond you. You end up staying up all night, phone calling all day, staring bleary-eyed at legal forms, bank forms, and real estate sales. And from somewhere deep, deep inside comes the physical strength, the mental strength to obsess over tiny print, the ability to learn arcane fields like investing or antique car collecting. Whatever you must do (Saturn is must) you CAN (Pluto is can).

FOR ANOTHER EXAMPLE: another person and a similar Pluto transit might signify the onset of a major, life-threatening disease or disorder, but years before that, the person dropped out of High School and can barely read the ingredients on a soup can, nevermind figure out what's on WebMD. Yet, Pluto provides the mental strength (temporarily) to learn, judge, evaluate, obsess on (Obsession is a Pluto manifestation) all this medical stuff and make an informed choice of treatment or physician. And thus conquer the medical problem and survive (or not; Pluto does bring death sometimes.)

You begin to see why I think Pluto rules Vampires?

Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio, the Natural 8th House.

The 8th House is all about the resources of other people -- inheritance and legacies, Trust Funds, leaning on the expertise of others, using another's body for sexual pleasure, being held in thrall (obsession) by a lover. Pluto and the 8th House are about POWER, the power others have over you, and the power you have over others. Insofar as sex is about power, it fits the symbolism. Pluto is also about blackmail, secrets and the revealing of secrets.

The relationship between a blackmailer and the victim is Pluto ruled.

The "battle of the sexes" goes in the category of Pluto transactions. When conducted with back-biting, undermining, and character assassination, Pluto conflicts can be all about gaining power over the other. Passive-aggressive tricks can go in this category although they also have elements of Neptune. Co-dependency can have strong Pluto elements.

Remember, everyone always has all the planets and signs somewhere. Every situation has them all, even if only waiting in the wings to make an appearance. But each event sequence usually has a power source, a driver, a planet that exemplifies the symbolism underneath the event. We're looking now at Pluto, the 8th House, and Scorpio in Alien Romance.

The 8th House and sexuality also illuminate another element in Romance, that physical sex is about the relationship between your resources and that of the Other. Every graphic sex scene is about how one moves and the other feels, and one feels and the other moves, and a feeling that prompts a movement. A well written sex scene is about how the two communicate about power, life, getting what you want, giving what the other wants. Dominant position says something. All that is Pluto symbolism. Neptune is imagining it; Pluto is doing it.

The 8th House is the tango, moving and responding to the movements of others. It works in sexuality, but the pattern repeats when it's about money, sharing a bathroom, or shopping chores.

Pluto was discovered about the time Uranium was discovered which ties the symbolism together. The potential in Pluto is the same as in the atomic explosion. Pluto is explosive, but the deep, powerful explosion that erupts from way down beneath the surface, the energy contained in the atom -- or in the smallest indivisible unit of the psyche.

Pluto is about the HIDDEN. (the affairs of "others" are not yours; thus they are hidden)
Pluto is about the secrets that are kept from you -- and that you keep. But not just ordinary secrets like a surprise party -- these are the secrets we call CONSPIRACY. Thus the government coverup of Aliens From Outer Space, i.e. UFO's, is a Pluto ruled issue and process.

Pluto rules embezzlement.

That's much in the news with the "exposure" (Pluto exposes secrets) of a confidence racket on Wall Street, a Ponzi scheme.

The following is from a Yahoo Reuters News item
http://biz.yahoo.com/rb/081212/business_us_financial.html?.v=9
Retail sales, fraud case worsen auto bailout flop
Friday December 12, 11:27 am ET
By Daniel Trotta and Mike Peacock

"Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged on Thursday. The former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market also ran a hedge fund that U.S. prosecutors said racked up $50 billion of fraudulent losses."

Note that: "Quiet Force" -- that's Pluto to a T. (I've seen discussion that his Fund was not technically a "Hedge Fund" though.)

This quiet person who kept out of the headlines, kept his business very private, used his impeccable record of privacy to take charge of other people's resources, is experiencing the effects of PLUTO here. (I don't know the man's natal chart - I'm just looking at the dramatic events, and the type of events from his point of view and I see Pluto written all over it.) He was managing other people's money (8th House) and has been explosively revealed to the public, and had his dirty secrets exposed -- and all that is so very Pluto.

Recently, we also had the incident of the Governor of Illinois's phone calls having been recorded by the authorities (secret wiretap - very Pluto) resulting in charges being brought that he was trying to sell Barak Obama's Senate seat for personal gain. Both the type of transaction (clandestine or ultra-private understandings and agreements about deployment public resources in your custody, 8th House resources) and the revealing of that confidential business, reek of Pluto.

For the last couple of years, transiting Pluto has been going across 0 Degrees of Capricorn, and it has another year or so to go. Pluto started on 0 Deg Capricorn at the end of January 2008, and made station retrograde at 1 degree of Capricorn at the beginning of April -- that is all last winter Pluto was pouring change energy into 0 Deg Capricorn and coming to the opposition to the USA Venus.

Any Natal chart with 0 Deg of Capricorn sensitized will very likely (not always) be responding now to Pluto's powerful, subconscious, subterranean urge to CHANGE.

Pluto went direct in early September at 28 Deg Sagittarius, and re-entered 0 Deg Capricorn the end of November (it was close enough to call it 0 Deg on Election Day). It'll finish 0 Degrees again the 4th week in Dec. 2008, then it goes on to 3 Degrees of Capricorn, and back again to make station in the middle of the 0th Degree of Capricorn in September 2009.

Thus for 2009, Pluto will be activating the USA Natal Venus, and we should see wealth, jobs, health care, and relationships under Pluto's hammer of change.

I'll give you a week to digest all that, and then we'll take more about Vampires and Pluto and Change.

Astrology Just For Writers Part 5 - High Drama Pluto and Vampires


Pluto transits take a long time. (See the relevance to Vampires? Reincarnation love affairs? Yes, Pluto is said to occupy the spot in your natal chart that your Sun occupied in your previous life.)

Pluto has an elliptical orbit (another reason they decided it's not a planet but a "capture" from some other solar system. Ah, Alien Romance!)

For the last decades of the 20th Century Pluto was moving pretty fast (relative to its usual), but now Pluto has begun to move more slowly as it rounds its elliptical path.

In Astrology the principle is that the slower the transit, the more profound and lasting the change -- the more prominent the change in the history books.

All planets bring change on transit, it's just the character that's different -- and many Astrologers argue that all the planets signify the same thing, change, just the speed differs and thus the magnitude of the change. Pluto's magnitude is the biggest, though it's such a tiny body.

Pluto is now, and once again, the slowest moving planet (from Earth's perspective). 248 years to go all the way around the Sun. So every 248 years, Pluto gets back to the spot it was when you were born.

See what I mean about Vampires being ruled by Pluto?

Since Methuselah, nobody "alive" ever experiences a Pluto Return.

We learn Astrology from "lore" not theory, and the theory is created from the lore. We study people, real people, who experience this or that transit against the background of a Natal Chart that has this or that characteristic, during this or that time of their life, and keep lots of notes. Then the experiences of lots of people are compiled into general principles. That's how "rulerships" are "assigned."

Pluto is new to our lexicon of planetary experiences, and thus people are still guessing what it is really about. Mars co-rules Scorpio with Pluto - and many of Pluto's characteristics are just bigger, deeper, longer wavelength attributes of Mars.

That means that war is Pluto related, while Mars is battle related. Mars is marital strife, but Pluto is divorce -- see what I mean?

Read up on Saturn Returns in Grant Lewi's ASTROLOGY FOR THE MILLIONS to see why the return of Pluto to the place at birth has to be significant in a Vampire's existence. (Saturn rules Capricorn)

A Pluto-Return has to be a totally shattering Event for a vampire or other immortal.

EXAMPLE: There's a branch of Astrology called "Mundane Astrology" and it deals with the Natal Charts and transits of whole nations and the world in general.

A lot that's been happening in the world since Pluto touched 0 Degrees of Capricorn can be understood in terms of Pluto symbolism.

There's always argument about exactly when a country is "born" -- and the USA has several accepted natal charts that astrologers study. I found that in one of the most famous charts, (July 4, 1776, 2:13 AM, Philadelphia PA) the USA's 8th House Cusp is at 0:38 of Capricorn).

2008 has been the year of the financial meltdown, starting with MORTGAGES (borrowing other people's money). Banks get the money they loan from depositors (government loans notwithstanding). Banks are an 8th House phenomenon.

248 years ago was 1760 - the USA hasn't had a Pluto return yet! By this chart, our Pluto is at 27 degrees of Capricorn, in our 9th House which is foreign affairs, foreign travel, foreign thinking, and justice, courts. Jupiter rules Sagittarius the Natural 9th House.

If this chart holds, this phase of Pluto induced change should be over for us by September 2009, but Pluto then moves on to oppose our Natal Venus, Jupiter and then Sun. Pluto finishes our 8th House and enters the 9th in Nov 2019. By then the character of the USA will be wholly changed.

Watch how Pluto affects long-lived organisms such as countries, and you will begin to see how it signifies the kind of life events a vampire would face. Periodically. Routinely. Ho-hum, yawn, I'm bored with existence. Who could be bored the first time you ever face a "change everything" Event -- a lose everything or win everything Event? But the 20th or 1,000th time?

Recently, the Thailand government was toppled by airport sit-ins that trapped thousands of tourists. The Greek government is being challenged after a police shooting at a rock throwing incident. The Mumbai terrorist attack has aroused India's wealthy class to challenge the current Indian government, but not the form of government.

Political Revolution is (often, not always) a Pluto driven event.

Being toppled from "power" can be a Pluto type event from the point of view of the one toppled, but the same kind of thing can be signified by a transit of Saturn.

Pluto will topple by revealing the hidden, by sex scandal, by embezzlement, or sometimes by someone else wanting the power for themselves, by assassination. Saturn often topples by failure, by running out of steam, by enemies succeeding, by losing the election, by a failure of discipline or authority, by getting your comeuppance, your just deserts. With Saturn, it's obviously your own fault; with Pluto it seems to be external to your self.

(I'm just leaving Neptune out of this. Astrology is nothing if not complicated.)

You see what I mean by "drama" - Pluto is very High Drama indeed.

Pluto driven lives and events are the very substance of movies even more than of novels. Robert Ludlum move over!

Noel Tyl (as I discussed in my post Astrology Just For Writers Part 1)

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/07/astrology-just-for-writers.html

shows how Pluto is one part of a pattern that shows up routinely in the natal charts of the extremely prominent -- thus Pluto is connected to both fame and infamy.

A Pluto driven life has these gigantic, larger than life, ups and downs -- from which the individual usually comes back. Pluto supplies both the crisis and the strength to survive it.

Pluto driven love can range from the sickest, most violent obsession (stalking, kidnap, etc) all the way to the longest lasting, most eternal, and most animal-passion driven bonding of hunger and need.

So astrologers face a quandary trying to analyze a Vampire's existence. Is his (or her) natal chart the moment they were born as a human? Or the moment they first drew breath as a vampire?

Does a vampire who has been immured for a few centuries, going dormant until dug up, get a new natal chart when they "waken" again?

Does memory have anything to do with how you respond to transits? Does a person who has a total memory wipe have a new natal chart when they start recording events again?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7777385.stm

Is an item about the finding of what may be a human brain, more than 2,000 years old, shrunken and barely identifiable.

So it occurs to me to wonder what if that were the brain of a vampire?

And then it occurs to me to wonder how a fossilized (really infused with stone) vampire body might respond to being "brought to light" (that's what Pluto does, exhumes, brings to light, turns up, discovers, exposes).

There's this fossilized body in a museum -- a vampire, of course -- and the vampire's Pluto return takes hold. What happens next?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

http://www.slantedconcept.com

Monday, December 22, 2008

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS: villains, conflict and killing off characters

A couple of disclaimers.

First, this blog will contain SPOILERS for Gabriel’s Ghost, Shades of Dark and the movie, Serenity.

Second, I know I’m not remotely in the category of Joss Whedon. The man is brilliant. Beyond brilliant. Don’t take my questions and/or criticisms of his work as anything more than the ramblings of an author looking to make sense of the craft of fictional entertainment.

That being said, you by now may have surmised I watched the movie, Serenity, recently, and am somewhat perplexed over the death of Wash’s character. I watched the movie, not just because I thoroughly enjoyed Firefly, and not just because Whedon provides one helluva good romp with his stuff, but because I wanted to learn. One of the downsides of being an author—and YA author Stacey Kade (watch for her debut with Hyperion in 2010--right now she's still SFR author Stacey Klemstein) and I were chatting about this—is that reading for pleasure seems to happen less and less. It’s hard to read—or watch—something in your genre and not analyze characterization, plot, conflict and the like. So I found myself last weekend watching Serenity with one eye and breaking it down with the other: oh, bit of a plot twist, there. Oh, some layered on characterization here. Oh, major plot conflict coming up. Oh, here’s the regroup and revise scene…

Then, sitting in the cockpit of Serenity, just having crash-landed on the world of Miranda, Wash gets lanced. Skewered.

And I go, WTF?

Yes, obviously, it was an emotional moment. And writing is about emotional moments. “It’s the author’s job to manipulate the emotions of the reader,” said writing guru Dwight Swain. And I subscribe to that. But it’s also said that fiction must be more logical than real life.

And Wash’s death wasn’t plot-logical. It was emotional, no doubt. It wrenched the reader. But it wasn’t logical to the plot and didn’t create or improve on the growth of a major character.

Emotion for emotion’s sake is not enough in fiction. When it’s done like that, it becomes a cheap shot. Or what writing guru Jack Bickham refers to as “dropping an alligator through the transom.”

Book’s death, on the other hand, was plot logical. It impacted heavily on Mal and that was shown clearly. Mal was the one to find Book, was the one to hold him as he died. Prior scenes showed their friendship and their backstory conflict. Book’s death was a clear catalyst to Mal.

Wash’s wasn’t. For one thing, Wash and Mal had no backstory conflict and though they were clearly friends, it was a calm friendship for the most part. There wasn’t a Wash-Mal issue as there was a Book-Mal issue. Wash was a minor character who served a great role and was also the husband of Zoe, another minor character.

The two major characters, to me, in Serenity, were Mal and River. Writing gurus always ask: Whose story is it? And that’s a huge question that must be answered as you craft your fiction piece. If you don’t know whose story you’re telling, your piece will wander all over the galaxy, lost, in search of coherent and cohesive plot and conflict.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg details much of this on her Sime~Gen site:
http://www.simegen.com/school/workshop/WORKchoosingProtag.html

The main POV character is the one who ACTS FIRST -- the person attempting to impose their agenda on the course of events -- to get things to come out in their own favor. The VILLAIN or ANTAGONIST is the one who is acted-upon and objects.

River, through help from her brother, Simon, acts to escape the psychic detention facility that’s held her and tortured her. They end up—and much of this is backstory—on Mal’s ship, Serenity. But it’s Mal who acts—when the Alliance assassin confronts him, demanding River’s surrender—to tell the Alliance to take a hike and it’s Mal who acts to thwart the Alliance. Zoe, Jayne, Wash, Simon and the rest are all minor characters. The two main POV characters—and most of the movie’s scenes are with one or the other as key—are Mal and River.

Given that, Wash’s death is useless. Simon’s death would have made more sense. River is a main POV character. Simon is her beloved brother. His death would have forced her into “character growth.” Wash’s death doesn’t force with Mal or River into character growth (any more than had already occurred.)

So to me, Wash’s death was a cheap shot, basic stage door faux-trauma simply for the shock value. As a movie-goer, I thought it was an exciting, emotional scene. As an author, I thought it was sloppy.

Now, Stacey, much more a Whedon-ite than I am, had a bit of a different take on the matter:

“Wash...I probably wouldn't have killed him off, no. But here's the thing, it does, in a sick and twisted way, which is Joss's way, make sense for him to be the one to die. He is the MOST innocent out of all of those involved. And Mal...well, I think it all relates back to the Battle of Serenity in the war between the Alliance and the Brown Coats. Mal believed in the war, thought he was fighting on the side of good. He was in charge of a platoon. He and Zoe fought and continued to fight even after the battle was essentially over. Not only did they lose, but he and Zoe were the only ones who walked away. All the others reporting to him died. After that, Mal withdrew. He gave up his white hat, ceased to see himself as a good guy. He wanted nothing to do with helping others or getting involved in any cause. He looked out only for himself and what benefited him. He got involved in helping others only when forced by circumstances and the fact that he couldn't completely tamp down his do-gooder (for lack of a better term) conscience. He did not want the responsibility of all those lives on his "boat." In fact, Mal would have preferred, I think, to die rather than to be responsible for their deaths (see ep "out of gas").

So, in this situation, here we are again, Mal leading innocents into hopeless battle. He's taking on that white hat again, and his hands are bloodied by the deaths of those who follow him. And he's not going to quit this time.He has to confront his fear that he's going to cause the death of all these people and lose AGAIN. He's being forced to be the hero and he's going to go through with it, even if it kills him.”


I can see Stacey’s point but notice how much it relies on backstory—television episodes of Firefly, that the movie-goer may not have seen. The author can’t assume they’ve seen them. So to build a huge emotional twist like Wash’s death based on backstory unavailable to the viewer at the moment strikes me as… less than good. The movie should be able to stand on its own as a cohesive unit.

Now, it may be there were earlier scenes between Wash and Mal that were cut. That happens all the time and that’s a failing of any media—books included—that have time or word count restrictions. You have X amount of pages to do something or X amount of minutes to do something.

But to me, then, if you cut the prequel, the rationale for a major character’s death, then cut the death scene. Or rewrite it. Wash could simply have been seriously injured, his injuries providing conflict to the fleeing crew (Drag him along or leave him behind? Slow us down? Save his life?) and Mal. I would have bought into that fully. It might have even created more conflict and tension.

Wash’s death to me was quick, final and senseless.

I know. People die for senseless reasons all the time in real life. But read what I wrote above: fiction must be more logical than real life.

(BTW, Jacqueline has an excellent critique of an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in a similar vein. I couldn’t find it on the Sime~Gen website but I’m sure it’s there and perhaps she’ll post a link.)

So how does this fit in with my books?

Two characters. One I killed off, one I didn’t.

Del in Shades of Dark. Ren in Gabriel’s Ghost.

I really hated killing off Del because he was a hugely fun character. But Sully, a main character, had to have growth, had to experience sacrifice, had to be motivated to reach deeper inside himself. The two main motivations for Sully in Shades of Dark were Del and Chaz. I took both away from him near the end of the book. Chaz, of course, he regained. Del had to die. But Del had to die not only for Sully’s growth and lesson but to partially redeem Del as a character and yes, to be true to the character of Del as I built him. He wasn’t as much an evil character as a selfish one. But his selfishness was, to a great extent, cultural. As was his penchant for sacrifice and, in the end, sacrifice he does. He dies so Sully can live. Which, based on Del’s upbringing, mindset and culture, was exactly the way things should be.

I took pains to prequel—lightly so but I did it—that this was a possible outcome all through the book. Del’s line of “…and I shall walk again with kings…” and his adherence to Stolorth traditions set up completely the book’s end. Rash’mh han enqerma. A sacrifice in exchange for an unspeakable wrong. This was one of Del’s guiding principles—and yes, villains can have principles—and it was the logic behind his death.

So was Sully’s challenge to Del:

“You’ve told me many times I still need training. That a rogue Kyi like me is capable of utter destruction if I’m not careful. Then heed your own warning. Don’t force me to find out just what I’m capable of. Because when the dust settles, I will be the one left standing. And you know that.”

The character I initially killed off then rewrote and didn’t was Ren in Gabriel’s Ghost. Again, I was looking for a catalyst for change for the main character, Sully. But at the point I would have done it—and I’m grateful to the crit partners who pointed this out none too gently—it would have been more for emotional manipulation that character growth. It would have, in essence, been a cheap shot. The timing and placement were wrong and going back and rereading the old pages, I could see where Linnea the author had run out of ideas so, hey, let’s kill someone.

I ended up not doing so because Ren, alive, forced much more character growth on Sully then Ren’s death ever could have.

It’s a very easy trap to fall into when writing: let’s just throw on a bunch of actions that engender scary and unhappy emotions, and keep the reader reading. But eventually that’s exactly what the story will feel like: things just thrown on. More is not always better. In fact in fiction, more often produces crap. Conflict must come with a why, not just an ouch.

Maybe next week I’ll touch on why the capitulation of the Alliance assassin at the end of Serenity also set my writerly teeth on edge.

Unless you all want to open that dialogue here too…

(and I still think Joss Whedon is a freakin’ genius, and if I could produce stuff even half as good as he does, I’d be a happy camper…)

~Linnea

SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books: http://www.linneasinclair.com/

I watched Sully’s eyes snap to black, his lips, thin. His hand clasping mine tightened. Shock gave way to anger, which gave way to something more primal, more male. It tasted of jealousy, possessiveness, dominance.

And all I had said was, “Hello, Sully. I just met Del.”

I poured the encounter into his mind almost as fast as he retrieved it. I held nothing back, not Del’s seductive handsomeness nor the power that fairly seethed beneath his surface, nor the ease with which he rendered me helpless, folding the Grizni back around my wrist.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Questions of Immortality

I've been reading a YA novel called SUCKS TO BE ME, subtitled "The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teenage Vampire (Maybe)." Mina's parents are both vampires, the traditional formerly-human, transformed type. (Vampires can't breed; they had her before their change.) The Vampire Council has recently learned of Mina's existence. Because ordinary human beings aren't supposed to know about vampires, Mina is faced with the decision of whether to become a vampire. Her parents and uncle (who's also a vampire; he transformed her father) take it for granted that she probably will accept the change. In preparation, she has to attend classes, which of course she has to keep secret from her friends in high school. It's an amusing book with lots of debunking of myths that, in Mina's world, aren't true. For one thing, the vampire lifestyle isn't nearly so glamorous as the popular media imagine. (Her father is an accountant, for Heaven's sake.)

I've read other books in which the protagonist is given that choice, but no others that approach the topic quite the way this novel does. As for my own vampires, they're members of another species. Most fictional vampires don't get a choice; they're either born that way, transformed against their will, or faced with vampirism as an alternative to certain death. But suppose a free choice existed. Which brings up the question: If you were offered the opportunity to become a vampire, would you accept? Assuming vampires aren't intrinsically cursed and evil, the core question here, of course, is whether you'd want to become immortal. The down side of an indefinitely extended lifespan includes growing apart from all the people you know and eventually being cast adrift in time, possibly afraid to make friends because, from the vantage point of centuries, they'll die too soon. On the other hand, ordinary mortals keep and love pets even though cats and dogs live much shorter lives than we do. Does that mean an immortal would relate to other people the way most of us relate to pets, though, not as equals?

Corporeal immortality has never appealed to me. For me, the fascination of watching history unfold over centuries wouldn't make up for the isolation. Fast healing and immunity to disease and age, though, that's another matter. Those benefits would be tempting. Other considerations depend on what version of vampire lore you accept. Inability to go out during the day would be a major disadvantage; however, that restriction doesn't apply to all folklore vampires or any of the classic nineteenth-century fictional vampires. If the only problem were a slight weakness or sensitivity to sunlight, I could live with that. I'm something of a night person, anyway. Most versions of the mythos agree that vampires can't eat solid food. I'd miss that part of ordinary life very much (and I love garlic). Reputed benefits include superhuman strength and speed, the ability to mesmerize people into obeying your will (a power that could also be regarded as a dangerous temptation), and irresistible sexual allure. Transformation into animals would be cool, if that's part of your accepted vampire lore. A crucial problem could involve obtaining blood without hurting people. Many vampires in fiction can manage on animal blood or bottled discards from blood banks, but would those sources of nourishment be completely satisfying? If blood-drinking has a sexual component, finding a compatible lover could solve the problem, but then the vampire would have to face eventual loss of his or her human lover, even if the lover changes rather than dying; transformation is sometimes assumed to make an erotic relationship impossible, as in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain series.

I'm thinking of these issues partly because I'm scheduled to chair a panel on vampires and other immortals at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in March. "Highlander" immortals face many of the same issues vampires do, though without the dietary limitations and other vulnerabilities. Peter Pan lives forever at the cost of never growing up (which the author presents, at first, as a boon, but by the end of the book we see hints to the contrary). Some fictional vampires are portrayed as psychologically frozen in time, unable to grow past what they were in life or transcend the limitations of the era in which they were born. Claudia, Anne Rice's child vampire, who can't even cut her hair without having it grow back by the next night, illustrates this premise in an especially chilling way. That kind of immortality, in my opinion, would be a curse rather than a blessing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Villain Defined

Linnea Sinclair and Susan Grant have fingered the exact problem most writers face. Most of us aren't criminals or megalomaniacs, not even deep inside. Most of us just want to make you laugh, smile, and cry all at the same time. We deal with the tender stuff inside our readers, not the coarse, gross, inelegant world outside.

After all we spend most of our young years reading (even in class, even when supposed to be doing homework, and sometimes even on dates!). We are readers more than we are do-ers, and as a result have a hard time thinking what nasty people would do.

Now we write fantasy (even SF is fantasizing of some sort, about the future, the galaxy, alternate times). And people don't read fantasy to get Headline News. (movies ript from the headlines, maybe, but not reading fantasy/sf/romance). We write classics to be enlightening a hundred or a thousand years from now, not a brief on current events.

So HOW DO YOU CRAFT A VILLAIN?

We don't know any villains. We see them on TV, read about them on Yahoo News, but they aren't in our social circles if they're "larger than life." They hold CNN Press Conferences. We just toil in our solitude hoping for a fan email from someone who has understood our novels.

Villains are complex and deep, so crafting them is especially difficult, as Linnea points out, when you're working in cross-genre with a severe word limit.

You can't include the whole life backstory of ALL the characters. Readers have to know what to infer from a few clues, so you have to craft a villain character readers (who like you don't know any villains) that the reader will instantly understand from a Japanese Brush Stroke image. Because your readers (and yourself) only see villains FROM OUTSIDE, you have to show your villain character from outside. There's no space to go that deep into them, and it wouldn't be fun for the reader.

If you want true-crime that goes into a psycho's head, you read something other than a romance spinoff genre.

So that's why we tend to create cardboard, cliche villains. Next week, I'll discuss how to accomplish this feat of larger than life character invention using Pluto as the ruling planet of Vampires and avoid the cardboard, single-dimenional villain problem. And in fact, I'll include last week's current events.

But right now, let's look at the easier part of the job of finding the antagonist/ villain/ Bad Dude.

So where do you look to find the correct villain for an SF Romance?

Back to the writing basics I keep harping on in these posts.

THEME. PROTAGONIST. PLOT. RESOLUTION.

That's where you find your villain/antagonist/BAD BUY.

The glue that holds the Romance plot and the Action plot together is THEME. Both plots have to be expressions of the same archetypal THEME, to say something about the same issue of morality, life, the universe and everything.

This structure saves you lots of words so you can put two genres together in the same wordage allowed for one genre. It's economics as well as art.

The theme comes from (or alternately generates; every writer and every project may randomly choose a different starting point -- but in the end, all the parts of the story must be in their proper places) -- so the THEME comes from the PROTAGONIST.

Look inside the protagonist, find what his/her life is really about (unbeknownst to him), then TEST TO DESTRUCTION that protagonist's view of life-the-universe-and-everything.

Find the one premise of that character's existence that he/she has never questioned, and present the protag with proof that the premise nearest and dearest to their heart is WRONG.

That's what antagonists do. Show the Protag how wrong he/she is.

The key to a hot romance is figuring out "what does he see in her" and "what does she see in him?" Both questions are answered by the THEME.

The key to a hot KILL THE ENEMY story is figuring out the tie between the two enemies. Why does this hero need THIS PARTICULAR VILLAIN? What inside the hero gives this villain a hook into the underside of his psyche?

Both the hot romance and the hot kill-the-enemy story need RELATIONSHIP DRIVEN PLOTS. They're just different relationships. (or maybe not so different)

WHAT DOES THE HERO NOT-KNOW ABOUT HIM/HERSELF? What does the hero keep secret from himself?

It is by that short-hair that the villain grabs hold of and jerks around the life of the hero and JOLTS the hero into becoming a Hero (Hero's Journey -- we all start as plain dudes and dudettes, and something happens that is NOT OUR FAULT and WHAM we are in a fight for our life against huge forces. And to win we have to solve that inner problem where those forces have hold of us.)

EXAMPLE: Guy photographs you in a compromising situation. Sends photo, demands money. He's got hold of you by your secret. What are you willing to do to protect that secret? The ONLY SOLUTION is to cease having the secret. So you plaster it all over the airwaves and the NYTimes -- you don't "confess" but you ADVERTISE as if it's a virtue not a shame.

When you reach the point where you're not ashamed of what you've done because it has brought you to a new psychological and spiritual level, there is no longer a place inside you where the villain can take hold. You are FREE. Problem solved.

So to find the protagonist's natural antagonist, look deep inside the protagonist. The mirror image in the bottom of the protag's mind IS THE ANTAG.

This is where the amateur writer fails. This is where the "Mary Sue" story comes from. The failure of the author to LOOK INSIDE the protagonist because the protagonist is too much like the author, and so it's too painful to look too deep inside.

As Linnea points out, writing is the hardest work there is but she didn't mention that it's the least paid in money; hence the hunger for fan feedback -- not worshipful gaa-gaa fan feedback, but illustration that the work has propagated into others' lives as goodness.

Writing does drive some to drink because it does require that deep, inward searching and brutal self-honesty that other professions (not even psychiatry) do not require.

Now, sometimes you have to work the problem backwards. So think again about the story element list.
THEME. PROTAGONIST. PLOT. RESOLUTION.

Sometimes you have a protagonist and you know the problem, but what there is about the story that makes you want to write it is the RESOLUTION.

So to find the antag, look deep into the RESOLUTION. Dissect it. Analyze it. Find the philosophical core issue that changes because of the resolution. Lay back with your eyes closed, become the protag at the resolution moment and just FEEL the non-verbal effect you want to create for the reader in that end-moment.

I've been showing you in previous posts how to look at any issue using tools such as Tarot and Astrology to parse the real world down to its immutable (smallest indivisible unit -- just like the Greeks taught us) core components, then re-arrange the components in an original way and come up with a story element you can build on. The problem of generating the antag yields particularly well to these techniques.

Grab good hold of any ONE of these story components I've been discussing, any one, and ALL THE OTHERS ARE DETERMINED.

The art of story telling is just that -- understanding the relationship among things in this world and reflecting that relationship in the artistically created world.

In reality, your nemesis, your antagonist, actually lives inside you. Think back to High School. Who would you hide from? Would you hide from that person today? If your HS antagonist no longer lives inside you, you won't hide now.

Lots of good novels are about the moment of release when an adult vanquishes their HS antagonist forever -- by growing up themselves.

So if you have a protag, you already have the antag, plot, theme, resolution, etc etc. You even have the beginning, but that's the hardest to find. However, if you know the ending, then the beginning and middle are already determined.

In screenwriting, they call this relationship BEATS. I'm learning and practicing how to do that particular paradigm and having a ball at it.

This system works backwards too -- find the villain, look inside, and you'll find the protag who is that villain's nemesis.

The protag and antag are tied together along the axis of the theme. They are each living out different answers to the question posed by the theme.

Take the blackmail example again. The blackmailer has found that knowing someone's secret gives POWER. The blackmail victim has LOST POWER by losing the secret. It's all about the theme of the use and abuse of POWER. So every other backstory detail about both blackmailer and his/her motives and victim and his/her motives, right down to the breed of dog they own has already been DETERMINED by the nature of the thematic tie between Hero and Villain -- they have built LIVES based entirely on POWER, and probably have no room for LOVE.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://www.slantedconcept.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

DOUBLE-DUTY: PUTTING A FACE ON CONFLICT IN AN SFR

I just got off the phone—literally—with author Susan Grant. I have no idea how she has time to call in between piloting 747s, writing her books, tending to her fur persons and dealing with two teenagers at home (the last, as I told her, is like having five children at home). But she’s a sweetheart and she calls to chat about writing and what’s going on, and one thing we both hit on was the importance of creating a proper villain in our stories.

She already has hers, lucky dog. I’m still working on mine.

Creating the antagonist (that’s the foo-foo writerly word for bad guy…guy being generic) has always been tough for me. Susan and I discussed the fact that so often in science fiction/science fiction romance, the antagonist is less a person/sentient and more often something like, like the Ubiquitous Evil Empire or Corporation. But even empires and corporations need someone to pull the trigger. And that trigger person has to have the same goals and motivations, fears and desires structured in as your protagonists do.

It’s even better when the antagonist is less the Evil Empire and more the crazed, wacko, jealous, bitter but deep down inside nice person craving love and affection kind of character. Who may or may not work for the Evil Empire but certainly has an agenda or his or her own.

Those are the more difficult characters for me to craft. I’m better at the minions—the characters who operate under the direction of the Evil Empire—than at the individual self-motivated, self-contained baddy.

However, in SHADES OF DARK, I learned just how much fun it was to write the self-motivated, self-contained baddy in the character of Captain Del Regarth. And that made me want to do it again.

Trouble is, not every plot line that leaps into my head comes complete with a self-contained baddy. SHADES did. It was likely the exception that proves the rule. So with my current WIP, I’m trying to create a self-contained baddy or two. Because they’re honestly more fun to write.

Del was hugely fun to write. I don’t want to get into spoilers for those of you who’ve not read SHADES OF DARK (and #1, why haven’t you? And #2, do read GABRIEL’S GHOST first). Del actually had some heroic moments. Del actually saves the day a few times. Del actually is sexy and almost endearing in some scenes.

He’s also selfish, manipulative, condescending and spoiled rotten. And very very deadly.

In my current WIP—the follow-on book to HOPE’S FOLLY and one which I, quite uncharacteristically, can NOT seem to come up with a title for—in this current WIP it feels like I’m going to have two rather self-contained antagonists. Oh, there’s still the Evil Empire looming in the background. But I want to have real faces to put on the conflict.

That means creating two characters as in-depth as I do my protagonists.
Don’t you always do that, Linnea? You ask.

Uh, no. I don’t.

See, let me explain something about writing cross-genre romance, and science fiction romance in general.

Every novel anyone writes has a plot (or should have). In a mystery novel, for example, it’s the whodunit. There’s the cop or agent or PI. There’s the mystery (the dead body, the missing necklace, the kidnapped grandmother). There’s the bad guy. The conflict is clearly between the cop and the bad guy over whatever the mystery element is. In a fantasy novel, there’s the prince, the kingdom to be saved, and the fire-breathing dragon who wants to toast the town. Literally.

Okay, I’m being simplistic but I hope you get the drift.

When you write cross-genre and/or science fiction romance, things get more complicated. You have the adventure or mystery plotline (can the destitute starfreighter captain rescue her friend from the evil alien kidnappers?) and the romance plotline (can the destitute starfreighter captain risk having her heart broken by the imperious military officer who’s help she needs to rescue her friend from the evil alien kidnappers?). Falling in love in the midst of the mystery complicates things. You essentially have two parallel plotlines to construct, work with and solve. (And yes, I’m obliquely dealing with my FINDERS KEEPERS plotline here.) You have the adventure plot. You have the romance plot. You have the emotional conflict between the hero and heroine in the romance plot. You have the physical conflict between the hero/heroine and the bad guy in the adventure part of the plot.

For a good part of your book, your hero or heroine may actually also function as antagonist as well as protagonist, in addition to your book’s other antagonist in the form of the bad guy.

Confused yet?

(Think that’s bad, you should have seen me struggling with GAMES OF COMMAND in which I had two sets of hero/heroines with romance plots to solve AND both male protagonists had valid issues where they could also be functioning as undercover agents for the over-arcing antagonist of the Evil Empire AND on top of that I had to have some actual “has a face” antagonists…phew! And people wonder why authors drink…)

So the author of any cross-genre romance essentially must do twice the work of any solo-genre author in constructing characters, conflict and plot.

Didn’t realize that, did you? (And—more food for thought—we must do it in the same word count allotted to solo-genre books. So we have to do twice the story in the same amount of space. And you wonder why authors drink…)

What I find happens with me is that after roughing out my protagonists in the romance part of the story—and figuring out how they’ll be antagonists to each other for a period of the book—I’m fresh out of ideas for a self-contained antagonist who will come up against my hero and heroine. Just to make life more difficult.

As I said (whined) to Susan Grant on the phone: can’t we just have Generic Bad Guy? Does he or she have to have motivations? Can’t he just be BAD?

Nope. You need a face on conflict.

Susan had one great suggestion: look to the news. The media is full of bad guy stories, from politics in any given country to the pirates in the shipping lanes over in the Middle East, from which to craft an antagonist. Real life examples exist all around us. Greed afloat, in the latter case. A little research into current events—and reading the news analysis of same—can give you a lot of background with which to plop into your antagonist’s character chart.

The other—for me—is simply to do a character chart for the antagonist(s). I’ve really not done them before—at least, not in any detail. (IE: in AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS I knew what motivated Rigo and Blass at that point at which they appear, but I didn’t know anything about their histories.) Writing Del in SHADES changed all that.

So for me, putting a face on my conflict now means going far more in depth on my “adventure plotline” antagonist than I have before. It means doing a lot of backstory that will not show up in the book other than as motivations. It means forcing myself to give the antagonists some likeable characteristics. I read somewhere, “Remember: the bad guy is the hero in his own mind” and that thought is really what sparked Del and what I hope sparks the baddies in my current WIP.

That doesn’t mean at all that the Evil Empire as antagonist is wrong. For a lot of books—many of which I’ve written—that’s exactly where and what the baddie needs to be. Sometimes the greater threat must really feel greater and all-encompassing. Sometimes one bad-ass dude with a laser pistol just ain’t enough.

But when you need a self-contained bad guy, Susan’s suggestions of starting with news articles (or even history—if she has time to post I’ll let her relate the story about Hitler she told me) is a good jumping off point for your creativity.

Then spend some time working with that character’s backstory, as deeply as you do for your protagonists. Get in to the antagonist’s “But I’m a Hero too!” mindset.

It may not make your book any easier to write. But it will definitely make it more fun.




~Linnea

SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books: http://www.linneasinclair.com/

Chaz, Del is not the problem you perceive him to be.

Let’s see. He ambushes me on Narfial, blocks you, wanted to neutralize Marsh and then locks you away from me in some mystical woo-woo place that used to be a shuttle bay. In between all that, he has an annoying habit of calling me “angel” and “lover,” walks a very thin line between harmless flirtation and practiced seduction, and then has the balls to say I’m touchy. I have no idea why I think he’s a problem.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

From Roy Blount, president of Author's Guild.

Susan Kearney asked for this to be posted:

>From Roy Blount, president of Author's Guild. Pass it along!

I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And
local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious
dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money,
however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in
the cards.

We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods.
So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your
local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas
presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the
histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for
self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those
coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on
romance!

There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're
easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking
raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends
who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV
and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books.
Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto
your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: "Got
to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see...we're the Authors
Guild."

Knight's Fork

video

Thursday, December 11, 2008

UFOs

The latest issue of SKEPTICAL INQUIRER focuses on UFOs. Personally, although as a long-time SF fan I believe other intelligent life probably exists in the universe, I don't believe alleged UFO reports offer any justification for thinking aliens have visited us in the recent past. The alleged sightings of extraterrestrial craft (such as the incidents discussed in this SKEPTICAL INQUIRER issue) have consistently been disproved with much more credible mundane explanations. As for reports of alien abductions, all the accounts I've come across read like mediocre science fiction written by people who don't know much about science fiction. Many of them also sound a lot like tales of incubus and succubus attacks, a similarity suggesting a psychological phenomenon that has existed throughout human history and has been given different names depending on the beliefs current at the time. Writers skeptical of UFOs often ask why aliens would travel all those light years—even assuming the technology to make the trip, which is a stretch in itself according to our present state of knowledge—just to hover around without making contact. And if the abduction stories were true, why would extraterrestrial visitors choose the people typical of supposed abductees rather than contacting scientists or authority figures? If they are studying our species, couldn't they have learned more than enough about us in the past sixty years or so since the first UFO reports?

Although I don't believe UFOs are actually alien spacecraft, as an SF reader I can think of several plausible reasons why aliens might hang around our planet without making high-level contact and yet apparently without taking any great care to conceal themselves. Think of Jane Goodall and the chimpanzees. A researcher of that type wants the subjects to become accustomed to her presence, but she doesn't want to interact with them directly and thereby change their behavior. Maybe that's the strategy of ET anthropologists observing us. Or maybe the alien scientists do want to manipulate us, and the "abductions" are part of a long-term experiment to find out how we'll react to the aliens' apparently irrational behavior pattern. Maybe Earth happens to be located near a wormhole or some other transportation portal undetectable to our present technology, and the ET spaceships are using the portal without caring whether we notice them or not. That hypothesis might account for the erratic sightings of objects that appear and disappear without being susceptible to reliable tracking. Maybe they're mining or harvesting some natural resource unknown to us. Or, to indulge in paranoia, maybe the natural resource they need comprises human life energy or brain waves; maybe they've been feeding on us for eons, a scenario that would explain the horrors of human history. (That idea comes from a pulp-era novel called SINISTER BARRIER, by Eric Frank Russell, in which energy-beings called Vitons have used us as livestock for our entire existence.)

Or maybe they're watching us to determine our worthiness to be admitted to the galactic community; I hope so. The seemingly random sightings and contacts, again, might be specifically designed to test our reactions to aliens among us.

As for the "interstellar distance" argument against ET visitors, aside from the hand-waving assurance that an unimaginably advanced culture will have solved that problem, not every alien spacecraft sighted in Earth's orbit has to have come from another star. They might have a well-established base in the outer reaches of the solar system, as the villains in Robert Heinlein's HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL have a base on Pluto. Their technology would certainly allow such an outpost to evade detection by the few probes we've sent that far.

Other than the familiar clich├ęs of invasion and conquest or peaceful assimilation into a galactic federation, what other motives might aliens have for dropping in on us? Trade? Exploration for the sake of pure knowledge? Tourism?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tree In The Forest

Another source of crazy ideas for Paranormal and SF Romance is the word problem or philosophical puzzle known as a Koan. Take care: these things are addictive.

Rowena and Linnea discussed the flaws in our lead characters -- and how we love to test those characters to destruction.

Obsession is another such flaw, a flaw as dramatically powerful as a drug addiction. Many people get caught up in obsession with a person and mistake that for love.

That psychological mechanism can fasten onto these intellectual/philosophical issues and produce drama and romance just as powerful as drug addiction.

People do go through periods (astrologically) when they are vulnerable to being sucked into cults, or the study of the occult, or the pursuit of magical power to
a) attract their ideal lover,
b) take revenge on the unresponsive object of their obsession,
c) gain power and wealth, political and otherwise, but particularly political because with political power you can direct all your inner angst at the external problems of the world, thus self-righteously protecting your personal neuroses and addictions from change.

A writer looking for source material for popular stories rooted in classics can do well exploring all kinds of religions and philosophies world wide. Of course, you may become obsessed and keep looking and never writing.

http://www.thezensite.com/MainPages/koan_studies.html is a handy starting place.

Or
http://www.whyfaith.com/2006/08/30/if-a-tree-falls-in-a-forest-riddle-answered/

I wrote about how bad I am at philosophical word problems recently:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/05/exogamous-human-female-ive-been.html

My favorite Koans are like the one about if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? And what is the sound of one hand clapping?

These are actually language problems and world-view problems that you can become obsessed with -- or just shrug off as silly.

See my post on Linguistics For Writers:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/11/linguistics-for-writers.html

which discusses the unthinkable.

The Koan leads you into a loop where your thoughts will just slide around the inside of the walls around your mind. Trapped, endlessly trapped -- because you think in language. The answer to this puzzle is literally unthinkable without accessing the realm where your spirit dwells without words.

To start getting out of that endless loop, see my even earlier post on Giving and Receiving.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/11/gift-giver-recipient.html

If you can wrap your subconscious around the model of the universe with the Give/Receive paradigm built into the substance of Creation (i.e. the model of the universe behind the Tarot) you can solve the Koan of this type without any trouble.

Alien Romance writers note how two vastly different cultures and world views blend through the science of linguistics and the vision of Art -- the Western Magical Tradition with the Eastern Wisdom tradition of Zen Buddhism. At that interface, you will find hot stuff for romance. Talk about Romantic Suspense!

You can find 20 of my blog posts on the Tarot minor arcana posted on Tuesdays from August 2007 -- here's the first of the series
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2007/08/folks-first-i-have-to-say-that-at.html

I hope to have a collection of them, with the unpublished volumes on Wands and Cups available for PDF download. Subscribe to this blog or to me at http://friendfeed.com/jlichtenberg to be notified.

These posts on the Tarot for Writers give an overview of a world concept rich with story ideas, especially ideas about Relationship driven plots.

The Tree of Life diagram behind the structure of Tarot is composed of 3 pillars, or vertical columns. Positive, Negative, and the Central Pillar which is neutral.

Male, Female, Neuter. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

The universe structure is inherently one of Giving and Receiving -- and between them is a point at which Giving and Receiving are in BALANCE or synthesis.

What these Koan puzzles are challenging is the structure of the universe you hold in your subconscious as a non-verbal assumption.

Carlos Casteneda wrote a series of non-fiction books
http://www.wisdom-books.com/Author.asp?AUTH=Castaneda
about the training of a shaman in which the candidate is taught to "stop the world" and slide through the "crack between worlds" -- to alter consciousness of reality and thus gain power. One of the exercises was "running the night" -- literally running through the desert without being able to see with the eyes where your bare feet will land, and still arrive at your destination.

The study of the Koan leads to a similar ability. The study of Tarot, likewise. The hint of the possibility that mastering these disciplines could bestow power - power to conquer one's inner fears, one's unspeakable and unthinkable fears - is what sucks some of the vulnerable into obsession with these occult studies.

Now, bravely, back to examining the puzzle of the Koan, the shape and structure of existence.

Can there be giving without receiving? And without both, can there be peace?

Can a hand clap by itself?

Does a falling tree make a "sound" if nobody hears it? That question depends on the definition of "sound" you see, which is linguistic or maybe scientific.

What is the definition of "clap" -- is it a word that means a sound, or a word that means connect with another of your kind? Does it mean deliver kinetic energy to? Does it mean receive kinetic energy from?

What's all this got to do with Romance, especially with non-humans?

The concept of Soul Mate is rooted in the concept of a world powered by positive and negative energies -- where one is not superior to the other, but they are in balance, and compelled by the structure of reality to combine and balance.

Because it is so primal -- more fundamental than staying alive (paranormal romance with ghosts), finding a soul mate is another thing that can become an obsession, a main character's major flaw that must be overcome at the end of the narrative so that he/she can find that soul mate.

A Soul-Mate will have a World View, a vision of the macro cosmic all, lodged deeply in unconscious assumptions, that is either identical to or in complement to the mate's. Thus they instantly fall into silent and total communication; they recognize each other at first sight.

When identical, such souls have a much harder time mating!

Think of the musical chord. There's a mathematical formula for making chords -- but there are a number of musical systems just among humans that all have different formulas for what constitutes harmony -- an ear trained for one system hears dissonance when a chord of another system is sounded.

Souls are like that - NOTES. They combine in CHORDS (families). But the sense of what combines with which to make harmony is DIVERSE.

If it's so diverse among human cultures -- just imagine how diverse it could get adding non-humans.

Now, a Soul-Note from humanity COULD combine harmoniously with a Soul-Note from non-humans.

However impossible, it could happen. Some theories have it that we're not always reborn on the same planet.

So one way it could happen would be if they both had the same answer to the question about the falling tree in the forest making a sound, or the sound of one hand clapping.

Does the giver have any effect on the world if there is no receiver?

And there we are back to unrequited love.

Is unrequited love a bad thing? Is "love" actually a transitive verb - that you must love someone or some thing? You can't just LOVE?

That ability, to just LOVE may be rooted in a view of the universe, an unconscious assumption about the nature of reality. Those who just LOVE tend to be HAPPY.

There's a new study that shows that happiness is contagious.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081205/hl_nm/us_happiness_4

But they couldn't figure out how the mechanism that vectors happiness works, so maybe it works the same way as this "tapping" or Emotional Freedom Technique works (you can tap acupuncture points on your own body and improve the health of a close friend, relative, acquaintance! as well as your own.)

http://www.emofree.com/ -- ( a marvelous way to engage the placebo effect on yourself -- but oddly, it has been shown you can do it on yourself and help others.)

The Emotional Freedom Technique is also considered a scam by scam busters:
http://skepdic.com/eft.html

So you can see the potential here for conflict between lovers! (How dare you heal me with that scam technique!) (Well, at least now you don't need little blue pills.)

So this study on happiness being contagious might mean that some people, who view the universe in a certain way, may be able to spread LOVE around -- if Love and Happiness are related notes in a chord.

How might the Arcturians look at this argument?

I'm making myself crazy today -- too many interesting ideas all over!

But here are some "unthinkable" ideas to ponder as story material.

1) (USE AND ABUSE OF POWER) Maybe part of the auto-bailout deal ought to be a mandatory Breathalyzer interlocked with the car ignition, so if you're drunk you can't start a car. This is off the shelf technology that has never caught on with auto-makers, so it's not an SF concept. But considering automakers worldwide are now begging for your tax dollars, one of your characters might want to bring up the problem of drunk driving with congressmen/women. That's easy via this website.

https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Now suppose contacting a congressman/woman led into a searing hot romance via a blending of philosophies? Or into a relationship with someone obsessed with political power?

2) (OBSESSED FICTION READER) Publishing is continuing to melt down. You're going to have to find your daily fix of story via e-books, webisodes, movies, DVD's, (gasp!) TV! Words on paper are getting rare.

Here's a NYTimes article about Houghton Mifflin (huge publishing conglomerate) suspending acquisions of new books. (don't panic; they always do this in recessions)

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/books/25publish.html?_r=1&ref=business&goback=%2Ehom


The Chicago Tribune (which owns the LA Times, lots of papers and local TV stations, and the Cubs team) is in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The Cubs aren't included.

And :

Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Thomas Nelson are restructuring or laying off people. Random, which is described as being composed of "fiefdoms," says it is breaking down the walls between the imprints. Sounds like they will be getting rid of some. S&S is cutting back. Nelson is firing 10% of its staff. One of the last two is also freezing pensions for newer workers. There is an article at the Huffington Post about it, as well as the Wall Street Journal.

If a Publisher falls in the forest of high-leveraged businesses, does it make a sound louder than the sound of an Auto Manufacturer falling?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

http://www.slantedconcept.com