Sunday, November 29, 2009

Science Fiction Romance and The Comedy Of Manners

Almost any plot or subgenre of literature can be reinvigorated as science fiction.

Westerns are a natural. You simply give black hats to some of your fellow Space-Ark-mates, or colonists and substitute aliens for the gentlemen in war bonnets.

Better still, make the alien equivalents of Native Americans the heroes. Or, make all of humankind walk in the shoes of all the aboriginal peoples our own colonists have wronged in the past, and present the incoming aliens as pilgrim fathers or conquistadors. Ah, but that isn't the stuff of Romance. Moreover, the natives win in "Independence Day".

You can have Quest plots (The Holy Grail in outer space... and very often, as with the Da Vinci Code, the holy grail in sfr is a fertile, pure young woman), Discovery plots, Adventure plots, Pursuit plots, Rescue plots, Mysteries (including murder mysteries), Rivalry plots, Revenge plots, Underdog plots, Transformation and/or Metamorphosis Plots, Beauty and the Beast, Coming Of Age, Who's Coming For Dinner (prejudice/forbidden love)....

The one plot that may not translate so well into an alien romance is The Comedy Of Manners... which in turn might be described as a highly entertaining, watered down Morality Play. (Erring protagonists don't die, they just end up married till death do them part.)

Yes, I watched "Sense And Sensibility" last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast included Emma Thompson, Tim Rickman, and a rather hunched Hugh Grant. I wonder how long it will be before Emma Thompson does us (us Romantics) a huge favor and makes movies of some of the Georgette Heyer novels.

The trouble with Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer --when it comes to space travel-- is that their plots and heroines don't kick butt. They are rewarded for not kicking butts, nuts, or giving tongue lashings to anyone. Heyer heroines, actually, are more dynamic. Some of them do have violent tempers, like Leonie, and they shoot men (or want very much to do so) and fight with swords, and cross dress (like Viola and a few other Shakespearean heroines), and drive racy vehicles too fast.

A Comedy Of Manners depends on the heroine wanting to marry a gentleman, but not being able to tell him so. She is too well-mannered, and he requires more encouragement than she offers.

Usually, she has a sister (possibly multiple sisters) who is/are man magnets, often for the wrong sort of man, and who behave like the sort of woman/women a chap would take as his mistress, but would never marry. Villainy in a man could mean that he has sex with a virtuous young woman (or tries to do so, or promises to do so within marriage) and then leaves her.

Imagine! James T Kirk would be the worst of villains in a Comedy Of Manners. The continent Spock would be the hero.... which he was for most of us, anyway.

In science fiction romance, our heroines have to be in greater physical danger than losing their reputations (ie being suspected of not being quite virginal). Unless they are Queens or Empresses married to a Henry VIII type, and likely to be subjected to a show trial and executed. But that is a different sort of plot. The archetypical Sir Jasper does not cut the mustard as a sfr villain. He'd have to want her world as well as her body.

Our heroines in futuristic settings are expected to be sexually liberated, to have smashed the glass ceiling, to hold their own and often their hero's (blaster or equivalent weapon). They have to rock. And multi-task. They cannot sit around, being nice and proper.

By rights, Eleanor ought to have ended up with Colonel Brandon. We saw much more of the Colonel. He was by far the most heroic. However, he did not want Eleanor. He was doggedly determined to love Marianne... and Marianne was the stock "silly girl" whom (in my opinion) we see far too often, setting themselves up as role models for our impressionable daughters in endless sit coms, Disney movies for teens, and high school dramas.

Eleanor got the man she wanted, but only because of the perfidy of Miss Steele. Colonel Brandon's patience was rewarded... but in sfr, does any hero or heroine worth his or her salt settle for being second best?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. readers. Over the weekend, as usual, we'll be going to the Darkover convention just north of Baltimore. I'll be on two panels about vampires.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rion-dragons




Hi Everyone,
It's that time again. My new book RION is about to hit the stores shelves. So please check out the book and the fabulous ecard my publisher created for me. You can read an excerpt on my web site www.susankearney.com

Best,
Susan Kearney

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Harlequin Horizons & RWA, MWA, SFWA, EPIC

I have an anecdote to tell you regarding a power-lunch with the head of Harlequin that happened years ago, but seems to be finally percolating to the top where the world can see effects. Of course, there's no way to trace what we see today to my influence, and what we are seeing today would be the biggest embarrassment of my life should it turn out to be connected to anything I ever said anywhere!

If you haven't heard the Harlequin flap by now, here's the scoop. Skip to the section break if you know all this.

Harlequin publishers which has grown to own many imprints, some of which you may recognize but not know Harlequin is the company behind them, has felt the pinch all publishers are feeling.

And they have responded by partnering with a vanity publisher.

Vanity = they charge the author to "publish" the book, do no editing, do little or no "promotion" (their idea of promotion is not an author's idea of promotion) and dump some copies on the author. If the book is successful by the efforts of the lone author, they take the lion's share of the profit, or maybe all of it.

Self-publishing means you become a "publisher" doing all the steps, work of several departments, dealing with many companies to assemble components, do all the marketing, do all the publicity, do all the promotion (all different things requiring different sorts of mental acuity and intelligence, plus training and talent), but if successful you keep all the profit (except for taxes which can be complex).

E-publishers are publishers. They do all that stuff except maybe the lion's share of the publicity, and still manage to pay the author a goodly cut of any profit. They're "real" businesses, as is a self-publishing author who actually does it all (or knows who to hire -- Mass Market publishers hire lots of sub-contractors.).

Harlequin recently announced they were entering into a venture with a known vanity publisher. The few clues in their announcement all pointed toward standard vanity publisher rip-off, with the one tiny detail that they "intended" to watch for successful books and offer those authors contracts for a Harlequin colophon bearing edition.

Here's Harlequin's Press Release.
http://press.eharlequin.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=107&Itemid=

----------------Section Break-------------

OK, so now that Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and even EPIC (ebook writers and publishing professionals), and many others have weighed in on this controversy, we should look at it from several different angles.

Here's the SFWA statement:
http://www.sfwa.org/2009/11/sfwa-statement-on-harlequins-self-publishing-imprint/

Here's a bit about the whole flap involving other writer's organizations.

http://www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/24433

And isn't it interesting that READERS don't have an official organization to post a position white paper on this subject?

Writers and readers need to pay attention because we are in a topsy-turvey revolution in the Fiction Delivery System which is part of the revolution in industry caused by the Web and especially Web 2.0 where customers of all businesses can find and talk to each other directly.

In the pre-Web world, two people in different countries who bought the same brand of canned peaches would never be able to FIND each other, never mind talk about how good or bad those peaches were. Today the web connects users of a product and even translates (sort of - it's getting better).

I am ever so grateful to people who post their experiences with appliances, bed sheets, and other expensive things I buy seldom. User comments are what count for me these days, not advertising.

In today's world, word of toxic peaches would flash around the entire world in 15 seconds because of Twitter. The blogosphere would ignite with warnings, and facebook would be alive with URLs.

I read a blog comment yesterday where someone said, "make one mistake and you're a hashtag on twitter." (a hashtag is written like so on twitter #NewMoon -- that's the hashtag for the Twilight film New Moon, but you also see it as #newmoon and other variants)

Twitter surfaces "trending topics" by searching for keywords in the 140 character posts. If a few hundred people start relaying posts about say, Heinz Peaches, suddenly #HeinzPeaches would become a "hashtag" and within a few minutes probably surface as a trending topic.

People love to talk about the mistakes corporations make, but rarely gossip about the perfect, easy, convenient, no-hassle service they get from a corporation.

Nobody I've found yet has said "do something perfectly and become a hashtag on twitter."

With novels or films, though, it's often the other way around. People chatter incessantly about what they liked, but have little to say about what they didn't like except "it's bad."

So there's been a lot of talk on Amazon Communities and on Goodreads.com about Romances of various flavors. People like their fiction separated by flavor, aroma, mood, color -- all neatly categorized so they spend money only on what they're in the mood for.

Good books get talked about at length and in detail, the characters, backgrounds, backstories, relationships, speculation about their futures.

Books people don't like get "It was bad." "I didn't like it." "This author just doesn't deliver."

The characters don't get analyzed, the background visuals don't get discussed in terms of how they do not explicate the theme, the motivations don't get sliced and diced, the story doesn't even get retold in reviews. All a "reader" knows is that the BOOK is no good, and if they haven't studied writing, they really think the problem is inside the book, or the writer, not in themselves.

Readers who are only readers rarely comment "I just wasn't in the mood for a sappy romance." Or "I got bored by all the action scenes and skipped them - I probably missed something important and that's why the ending made no sense." "It fell flat for me because I was still bummed by being jilted by my boyfriend."

We've studied reader tastes on this blog in some detail. If you're interested in how to account for taste, you might want to read my blog entry:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/10/7-proofing-steps-for-quality-writing.html

And follow the links in there back to some of the deeper explorations of how to account for the tastes of whole generations of readers.

The more educated a reader is in the art of writing, the more able that reader is to wade into the vast volume of self-published work and pick out the books that will, for her, be superior to anything the traditional publishers can ever produce for Mass Market distribution.

After the "quality" editing run suggested in that last link above has been done by the author and others knowledgeable in the craft, all books are equal.

The only remaining point is "market" -- or whether you as a reader are in need of reading this book.

With experience, a reader may trust an author, or a colophon (because for several years at a stretch a colophon will have been "edited by" the same person) or even a whole publisher like Harlequin to produce more of whatever they liked in the previous book.

Likewise with small publishers, ebook and/or POD publishers. With a few free samples, and a little trust, readers may part with money to read a series that they don't buy in a Brick-n-Mortar store or at Wal-Mart.

This was the theory behind my first non-fiction paperback, STAR TREK LIVES! What is specifically aimed at your taste and mood-of-the-moment will seem to be of "higher quality" than anything aimed at a mass market that only includes you.

And that's why the Star Trek fanzine fiction took off in a blaze of glory that literally changed publishing forever.

Prior to Star Trek fans pouring out millions (maybe billions by now) of words of fan fiction, Science Fiction fanzines carried pretty much only non-fiction -- any fiction was just sendups, short humor, amateurishness for its own sake.

It wasn't Star Trek that changed our world so much, it was fanfic.

Star Trek fanfic started out on two levels at the same time.

Devra Langsam (a professional librarian) and some librarian friends of hers started the first Star Trek fanzine called Spockanalia - focused on the phenomenon they called Spock Shock. That's the impact of the ALIEN on women that produced ALIEN ROMANCE; or more specifically alien sex, infatuation, crushes, etc.

Spockanlia was printed mimeograph on high-acid (cheap) paper that has deteriorated. But the writing was professional level because the editors were librarians and knew from good craftsmanship, because-lines and themes, and foreshadowing and character motivation, as well as the importance of expunging typos.

Just after Spockanalia appeared, some industrious individuals began their own Star Trek fanzines with stories they wrote themselves, often published on spirit duplicator, or even just by typing a few carbon copies in a typewriter and circulating the paper copies. (really! by snailmail!)

Soon though others with wordsmith skills began producing fanzines that they invited authors to contribute to. Then the 'zines began to compete on editing. Before long, the field diversified into 'zines specializing in certain types of stories, and Star Trek 'zine genres emerged complete with names the readers understood.

There was still the occasional self-published 'zine, but even then only teenagers skipped the step of getting the work really edited before offering it for sale. Lack of editing produced scornful reviews and readers shunned the 'zine. Kids lost a lot of money as the editing standards increased.  I know one self-publisher who did novel after novel of her own and each one pristine -- because each got edited by other eyes. 

STAR TREK LIVES! blew the lid on this secret, underground publishing venue and exposed it to newspaper and TV attention, attracting thousands and thousands more writers, editors, publishers of the do-it-yourself generation. The field of 'zines exploded as the word 'zine short for fanzine (coined in SF fandom in the 1940's) became a newspaper term that didn't need explanation each time it was used.

So what has this to do with Harlequin?

Have you figured it out yet? Think hard.

SELF-PUBLISHING is fanzine publishing.

In self-publishing, editing is seen as optional.  From the outside, that is. 

Today, the online posting sites for fanfic demand beta-readers sift the stories before posting for free reading. Some beta-readers rise to the top because they actually edit (why did Stephen bite Rosemary's neck?)

People shun wasting their reading time on un-edited work.

Self-publishing is considered "un-edited" by almost all the professional organizations, so they are stomping on Harlequin for launching a vanity-press.

The new Harlequin Horizons imprint is an imprint for self-publishing authors.

A colophon is the graphic squiggle that labels an imprint. A colophon would be like a Vampire Romance and a stylized V dripping blood, the Imprint would be Stefan's Vampire Romances.

Harlequin said that Horizons won't offer professional editing by their own (rather sharp) editors. Harlequin will point authors rejected by their slush pile readers to the self-publishing operation as a "viable" alternative.

Those are the two points that have all the professional writers' organizations miffed.

Harlequin (nowadays a respected name though it hasn't always been so) is using marketing techniques to the disadvantage of beginning writers who don't know what's being done to them.

Harlequin (as any professional writer's organization knows) stands to make a hefty profit from the new writers (over and over again) because their new Harlequin Horizons imprint will not be geared up to teach these new writers why their work was rejected by Harlequin.

So new writers will continue to make the same anti-commercial "mistakes."

What's the difference between a vanity press and self-publishing?

A vanity press panders to the writer's ego and charges big bucks for the service.

Self-publishing is a job that smashes your ego down into a micro-dot.

SFWA says Harlequin's retraction of the announcement of the name on the new imprint (Harlequin Horizons) isn't enough.

The first uproar was targeted at the idea of putting the rather prestigious name Harlequin on what would be mostly a product that does not meet Harlequin's publishing standards.

So it seems it should be enough to name the venture something else.

But SFWA (rightly, I think) is still shunning the entire concept of a major publisher with known precision standards owning and operating a self-publishing operation that is marketed to their slush pile rejects on a distant promise of "if the book does well, we will consider..."

The writer's organizations discount all efforts made through self-publishing operations, vanity press or hard working self-published authors -- even most epublishers are excluded from qualifying a writer for membership because they don't pay advances against royalties.

Professional writer's organizations sift the publishing world on how the writer gets paid.

It's professional. We do it for a living. People who don't do it for a living aren't qualified to become members. It's an attitude that unites professionals in all fields, and divides them from amateurs and wannabees.

Those who have been in the publishing business since before the Internet became a publishing venue have their understanding of what is actually happening (and why Harlequin decided to launch this venture) conditioned by a vision of the industrial world that is in fact no longer exactly true -- though it may become true again, as we work through this turbulence.

I've talked a lot about the business of publishing in prior posts here. You might want to check:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/09/marketing-via-social-networking.html

Harlequin made a business decision based on an assessment of where the world is going with book publishing and what they could do to position the company to make a profit in that new world.

The people I knew at the helm of Harlequin years ago are long gone, and I expect their corporate culture legacy is long gone too.

But I see the Harlequin Horizons venture as if it were actually on the because-line of a novel that started at the power-lunch I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Some trickle-down of the legacy of that lunch discussion, a bit of dust on a wall, a flake of paint here and there, some trace of something may have remained in the air at Harlequin and led somehow to this decision. (I can hope not, of course, because this decision is potentially very harmful to the very people I treasure most - the beginning writers.)

Here's what happened.

One day, I got a phone call from a secretary at Harlequin's Canadian HQ who said her boss (CEO) was going to be in New York (where I lived at the time) and would like to have lunch with me.

Huh? I mean REALLY!

She eventually convinced me it wasn't a hoax, and I made the appointment to meet him in New York at a very expensive, posh, hotel restaurant.

It turned into a six martini lunch for him. I talked his ear off.

Subject of his questions?

You won't believe this.

STAR TREK FANZINES.

That's what he wanted to talk about. And of course, at that time if you started probing Star Trek fan activity from any end of the spectrum, you would end up talking to me on the phone (pre-email).

It seems that the press had convinced this mover and shaker of the publishing industry that women were the market for STAR TREK fanzines and those women were into the exact kind of story that Harlequin published, except with science fiction and aliens emphasized.

You have no idea how bizarre that concept was at the time.

So I spent over 5 hours explaining self-publishing, fanzine publishing, Star Trek publishing, emerging genres, trends, economics of fanzine publishing, content of the stories, target audiences, editing quality, prices readers were willing to pay ($20 for an amount of words Harlequin sold for $2.50 ) to get those particular stories.

This "lunch" lasted so long that we were the last people in the place as they were closing and retooling for dinner.  The staff had prepared all the other tables before one very obsequious manager crept up to softly suggest we might like to leave now.  (what an experience!  I've been thrown out of places coast to coast for being too talkative past closing time.  Politeness was beyond comprehension -- I mean this was New York!)


This CEO asked questions and made comments and comparisons that convinced me he understood what I had said. That was the truly astonishing part. I was actually able to communicate these ideas to someone in a position to take the entire Star Trek fanzine phenomenon to the next level, Science Fiction Romance!!!

Not STAR TREK ROMANCE -- that was owned by Paramount -- but rather the underlying abstract concept of how sexy a smart non-human could be in a story.

I did convince him there was a future for science fiction about romantic relationships (totally insane and ridiculous concept but he believed me).

In fact, another such power lunch conversation resulted, where I was invited to Washington DC (had to take the plane shuttle and the train downtown, then back in the same day) for lunch at a really exclusive club -- the kind of place that's members only; all posh silence and exquisite service once you're through the security.  The drapes in that place cost more than my house. 

I was invited to a place like that in San Francisco, too, a Yacht club.  They don't put a bill on the table when you're done.  It's in the membership fee. 

And that DC "lunch" too became a six martini lunch (not for me; I don't drink much) that left us the only two people in the place as it closed to retool for dinner. But lunch with a CEO that lasts about 6 hours is an experience and a half, especially when the talk really is all business. Lunch with editors isn't quite in the same category as lunch with the boss of the boss of the boss of the editor.  How many writers get to bend the ear of the actual decision makers? 

But nothing ever came of all that talking, that I know of.

I do know that for a while, the person at the helm of Harlequin understood fanzines, self-publishing, fanzine editing, and most importantly how very desperate the readership was for more SFR.

I had such high hopes.

But no.

It never happened. None of the programs he was meditating on ever materialized.  He could see my vision and share it, but there was no way to make it materialize in the Mass Market Publishing world. 

So I forged ahead and wrote the DUSHAU TRILOGY for mass market paperback and it won the first Romantic Times Award for SF, and other such SFR works with the R part disguised as plot driver. (see http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com for free chapters of that and my Hardcover efforts to make this point.)

Now Harlequin Horizons appears out of nowhere.

Vanity Press!!!

Monday, Nov 23rd, one of the Agents I most respect, Agent Kristin, posted the following on her blog:

-------quote---------
Today, Thomas Nelson Publishers joins the Harlequin hoopla in a ridiculous blog post. Ashley and Carolyn Grayson posted their response—to which I whole heartedly agree. I find it laughable that Hyatt believes that agents are speaking out against the ripping off of writers via vanity publishing arms because we see “self-publishing” as a threat.

As many commenters have already noted in my blog comments section, vanity publishing and self publishing are not the same. A distinction that Hyatt does not seem to understand. I suppose he also believes that venerated writing organizations such as RWA, MWA, and SFWA, all of which have a long tradition of helping and protecting writers, are similarly trying to keep the status quo by vehemently speaking out against such blatant ripping off of writers.

I also want to make this distinction.
----------end quote-------------

And there's lots more she has to say. See Agent Kristin's post for the links inserted in the above quote:
http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2009/11/horizons-is-not-remotely-like-harper.html

I really hope there's no connection with me because this is about the opposite of what I was saying to that CEO about the potential for SFR. But this is the very first time since then that Harlequin has made a business move even remotely flavored with that conversation's content. 

I'm not sure I'm flat out against Harlequin Horizons (just against the proposed method of doing business).

If the operation is smooth and high quality ( Vanity presses are famous for not-being high quality!), it's possible Harlequin Horizons might take us the next step beyond the tizzy publishing is in right now.

What I envision is packagers. Independent editors who select and edit novels in a specific narrow category, then when the novels are at the highest quality level, though aimed at some specialty audience, the packager uses an outfit like Harlequin Horizons to publish the work with the packager's colophon (not Harlequin Horizon's colophon).  The packager's colophon would then become trusted by readers.

Readers are the key element being ignored here.

All the professional writers organizations have spoken.  Where are the readers?  

A trusted colophon could become acknowledged by writers' organizations like SFWA, RWA, MWA, EPIC, etc. It could qualify the work for award consideration and as a membership qualification, in a defined category.

But I suspect long before that could happen, we will have a series of Awards created by various organizations for works in these nooks and crannies of reader taste. We already have the very respected EPPIES (which have been renamed) which have so many categories I can't count them.

As Alvin Toffler pointed out in his book Future Shock, the computer revolution, the information age, allows for customization of products that the industrial revolution handled as Mass Market.

The days of the mass market may be numbered.

The inflection point in history where that numbering may have begun would be the 1970's explosion of Star Trek fanzines that has continued into e-publishing on the web and overflowed into the universes of every other TV show you can think of (SF TV led the way, but today it's everywhere).  

But economies of scale have not yet hit the niche markets.

It's still too expensive to self-publish, e-publishers are struggling with narrow margins, and the only solution business school graduates know is to reach a wider market.

But art aimed at a wider market leaves the various narrow markets luke-warm rather than ignited in passion for more-more-more at any price, as Star Trek Fanzines did.

We might view Harlequin's move to vanity or subsidy press as an act of desperation as their mass market readership evaporates beneath them, and they need another source of revenue so they're setting up to fleece beginning writers who don't know that they don't know what they need to know.  

Publishers have to learn that the future of the fiction delivery system lies in the micro-market not the mass-market.

Or am I wrong? What am I missing here? 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still (yesterday, on TV, at 8pm)

I missed the first eleven minutes of this remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still", because I was watching an absolutely gripping bit of political theatre.... and perhaps if I had seen the very beginning, I might have enjoyed the movie more.

How is a debate a "debate", if people vote from remote locations without any solemn or otherwise obligation to listen to, and weigh, the arguments for and against the motion? I hope the Jury Trial system never goes the way of the Senate!

My husband tells me that I am in for a real treat when I see the original movie.  He rates the original a 10, and this version a 3.

Reviewers are kinder here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970416/

I give kudos to John Cleese for his endearing and totally charming performance as a true world leader, a Nobel prizewinner who keeps a blackboard and chalk in his living room.

The other fine supporting performance was by Jaden Smith as the bigoted little boy who probably did more than his stepmother to convince the unsmiling alien that mankind was worth saving.

The blubber premise grossed me out, frankly. I won't say more even though I don't consider it a major spoiler... unlike the idea of carrying a bit of ones own blubber/placenta around with one in a little jar in case of accidents, and even smearing some of it inside an inconvenient policeman's mouth.

Major spoiler:

That the explosion-proof, diamond-bit drill-busting robot turned into bifurcating cockroaches and ants bothered me. That they flew around in a cloud reminiscent of starling flock formations (currently on display in the Artology exhibition at the Cranbrook Institute of Science) was cool. I could have wished that they'd focused on eating something more to the point than one big truck and a few roadsigns.

If mankind is going to radically modify its alleged, environmentally destructive behaviour, a few missing truckers and roadsigns won't impress an out-of-touch President in his bunker. Those metal munching cockroaches ought to have eaten all the airports, and all the ships, and all the world's nuclear reactors. And the tree cutters and earth movers and shakers, such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Hewlett Packard, Google, and Goodyear... (You can't run a mine without rubber, apparently).

How the world has changed since this movie was made, by the way.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ibd/20091120/bs_ibd_ibd/20091120issues01

However the physics of mass confused and upset me the most. It always does. It's my pet peeve with science fiction. In fact, the cockroach size issue was my biggest hurdle... my wall-banger moment. It surely could, and should have been photographed with more care and sensitivity.

Oh, and there was another issue of mass. Keanu Reeves asked an apparently smaller man what size that man's clothes were. He then asked the man to undress. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to see this feat. Moments later, the tall Keanu left the room in a perfectly tailored, exquisitely well fitted suit.

Continuity is ok. But, what was Keanu going to wear if he did not take the man's clothes, no matter what size they were? Ask a silly question!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_bNDv0-ZrU

Bottom line, though. I'd have given The Day The Earth Stood Still (Remake) an extra two points at least if they'd shown that particular logistical detail. My philosophy when telling a fantastic story is to show everything that is --or could be-- plausible.

A Programming Note

Visitors may have wondered why we have 6 wonderful examples of alien romance cover art in our right hand sidebar.

That's because the six of us are donating those novels to one winner who visits our site in a special event in honor of sfr (science fiction romance) organized by Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express that will take place on Sunday, December 6th 2009.




List of participating bloggers


List of authors

Author                              #Bks            Title                                                          


Nathalie Gray                   (4)         The complete Lycan Warriors series       Ebook                 
Leanna Renee Hieber       (1)            DARK NEST
Claire Delacroix               (2)            FALLEN & GUARDIAN
Jess Granger                     (2)            BEYOND THE RAIN
Karin Shah                        (1)            STARJACKED
Ann Somerville                 (1)            ON WINGS, RISING                            Ebook
Susan Grant                       (1)            MOONSTRUCK
Ann Aguirre                      (2)            WANDERLUST & DOUBLEBLIND
Katherine Allred                (2)            CLOSE ENCOUNTERS; CLOSE CONTACT (ARC)
Rowena Cherry                  (2)            FORCED MATE; KNIGHT’S FORK
Susan Kearney                   (1)            LUCAN
Jacqueline Lichtenberg      (1)            DUSHAU                                                           
Susan Sizemore                  (1)            DARK STRANGER            (AR)
Margaret L. Carter             (1)            FROM THE DARK PLACES (AR)
Linnea Sinclair                  (2)            GABRIEL’S GHOST & SHADES OF DARK plus HOPE’S FOLLY tote bag 
(Linnea will ship overseas)
Barbara Elsborg                (1)            LUCY IN THE SKY                   Ebook
Ella Drake                        (1)             FIRESTORM ON E’TERRA       Ebook


Total: 17                        Total: 26


TGE, Alien Romances, and Spacefreighters’ Lounge will all be giving away additional books.

Total # of books across all blogs:  30+

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing Output and Dumb Aliens

Here’s a very useful article on planning and productivity in the writing life, by Karen Wiesner:

Writing Productivity

My main reaction is awe at her output. She breaks down her annual schedule week by week and makes it sound so easy. Of course, she writes full time with no “day job,” but still. . . .

Since I’m a much slower writer than I’d like to be, I’m always searching for new techniques and tricks to overcome my inertia. Sort of like the way I used to accumulate books on housekeeping in hopes of finding the secret to getting the house clean with no effort. As a dedicated outliner, I’ve found Karen’s FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS and FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL to be phenomenally helpful and an excellent fit for my natural way of working.

But what I still want, ideally, is a magic word processor that would take my detailed outline and transform it into a first draft in my own style. I enjoy outlining and don’t mind polishing; unlike lucky authors such as Isaac Asimov, I don’t get much pleasure out of the actual, well, WRITING.

On an unrelated topic, I saw the alien abduction faux documentary THE FOURTH KIND last weekend. It impresses me as a good illustration of Jacqueline’s contrast between SF and horror. Despite the SF trope of extraterrestrial visitors, the movie’s mood is horror. The human characters remain helpless to do anything except investigate their terrible experiences, and even then gaps in their knowledge remain. They can’t learn much more than the aliens want them to know. The film has some scary moments, but aside from the exasperating lack of realism in the sheriff’s behavior (it’s supposed to take place in Nome, Alaska, which I’m sure operates like a real city, not a frontier outpost in the wilderness where police can do anything that strikes their whim) the aliens don’t make much sense when you think about them carefully, either. If they’ve been hanging around for thousands of years, as suggested by the dragging in of that tired “prehistoric alien visitors” notion with bas-reliefs from the ancient Middle East as evidence, shouldn’t they have learned more than enough about our species by now—too much to require the random snatching and vivisecting of ordinary human beings? More glaring, if they’re advanced enough to remove a child through a solid ceiling on a beam of light, why aren’t they smart enough to destroy the psychologist’s tape of her encounter with them? And surely cosmic beings of superhuman intelligence could figure out that if they don’t want humanity to learn about their existence, they should stay far away from the psychologist and her family, ensuring that nothing abnormal ever happens to them again—instead of kidnapping her daughter in a dazzling light show.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vampire Archetype Flashburned Into Memory

Before we start, look at the graph on this blog tracking the meteoric rise of Vampire Romance by number of titles per year over 10 years.

http://vampchix.blogspot.com/2009/11/rise-and-fall-of-vampire-romance-and.html

I found this via the following post on Twitter which I retweeted (I don't know who Michele Hauf retweeted here):

RT @michelehauf: RT Track the meteoric rise of vampire romance over the past decade at VampChix! http://bit.ly/ycx0r

That's a shortened URL going to the whole blog - the long URL above goes directly to the specific post with the graph that tells it all.

And if you haven't investigated my Vampire Romances, take a look at http://www.simegen.com/writers/luren/ to sample free chapters and look at what other Romance writers have said (I can still post more comments if you have any you want linked back to your own website.)

OK, now that you've done your interesting homework, come to class, sit in your chair, fold your hands and prepare to be bored out of your mind with one of my insanely long posts -- which is worse this time because I have to brag or there's no way to make this point, and the point is really, really abstract and you probably don't want to know, and maybe it really ought to be kept a deep, dark secret.

--------Skip If You Know All About Archetypes-------

We've discussed archetypes before, and I've always assumed everyone knows what they are and how they work and why. But maybe not. If you know all about archetypes you can skip this section of this post and still understand the point. Look for the dashed-line divider below that says SKIP THIS SECTION IF. to see if you need to read that section.  That would be two whole sections of this monster that you can skip and still get the point.

The thing with archetypes is that they don't look like whatever manifestation you're seeing them inside of.

They don't seem "real" and have no absolute specifics about them. It takes some practice to walk the world and spot interacting archetypes in the people around you and their biographies.

People are so different, no two alike, and the differences matter to us. The similarities, not so much.

How can you say one person is "just another version" of another person?

But that's what successful Romance Writers (and other genre writers) do to make their characters (and dialogue) Flashburn into reader's Memory.

Some really successful writers don't even know (and shouldn't know) they're doing that at all.

Learning a little (very little) bit of Astrology can help sort the world around you into archetypes, but that's the lazy woman's way of learning it.

You can't make a diagram of an archetype (though that's what Tarot cards are and that works for some people). You can't do an animated gif to show what archetypes are. They aren't tangible or visible.

Archetypes are psychological patterns of non-manifested FORCE or ENERGY. They are templates for reality, not reality itself.

Yes, an archetype is a little like a web page template. It's not the template that matters to the page visitor, it's the color, sound, motion, words, videos, links, that make this page different from that page, and that is all that matters to a visitor, "what's here that's different from what's there."

But web designers know that what makes all the content accessible and high-impact on visitors (stopping surfers mid-click), conveying the meaning that is within the content is the underlying pattern, the design, the composition, the template.

Fictional characters are just like web pages in that sense.

If the template design shows through you get a stereotype. If the template design does not show through, you get a living, breathing, psyche-penetrating, communicating, real character who seems like a real person and "lives" in the reader's memory, dreams, and even manifests in their lives (yes, I have testimonials from my readers about how my characters have affected their real life decisions and results - to the good, thankfully!)

New writers need to learn to percieve this dual level of reality (template vs. content) because what matters to people is the specific manifestation of the archetype, not the archetype itself. "Happiness" is achieving a specific manifestation of whatever archetype is operating in life (and none of the other possibilities within the archetype), and nobody cares what the archetype is as long as the specific desired manifestation appears.

People and thus characters prefer to ignore the fact that an archetype encompasses their reality. It's irrelevant. They want what they want.

For example: In Astrology, Tarot and in Archetypes, there is no distinction between "winning" and "losing" -- between succeeding and living or failing and dying. These are polar opposites to us living beings, but irrelevant distinctions on the level of archetypes.

I'll leave you with that concept for a while because it's so nonsensical to our ordinary consciousness it takes a while to sink in. But it's the main clue you will need to understand a couple of future points I hope I can make on this blog.

Archetypes exist on the astral plane, or in Kabbalah Yesod represented by The Moon in astrology.

The best show-don't-tell I've ever seen for "the astral plane" was the Star Trek: The Original Series episode SHORE LEAVE (also written by Theodore Sturgeon, one of my favorite authors and I knew him well enough to know that he understood the astral plane well enough to have encoded it in this episode deliberately, though I don't know if he did.)

Here's a reminder about the episode on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shore_Leave_%28Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series%29

What you think, wish, dream, what just crosses your mind, what you subconsciously fear or want, becomes MANIFEST on the astral plane. Your psyche is the template, and energizes your personal reality. On the Astral Plane, anything you want (or fear or don't want) will surround you.

The Kabbalistic trick is to understand that the astral plane is the foundation of our actual concrete everyday reality. And our reality actually is influenced starkly by what we think, dream, feel, and subconsciously hold dear.

Archetypes are the pattern of illusion and delusion, and they're plastic.

In addition to your personal manifestations of archetypes in your own life, archetypes have attributes defined by the human Group Mind that downloads and pours content into them, content that is displayed on that Group Mind's homepage.

Maybe all archetypes are eternal and the same ones arise wherever humans are. The Magician. The Mage. The Vampire. The Maiden. The Mother. The Crone. The King. The Queen. The Youth. The Outsider. The Alienated Hero. The Warrior. The Shaman.

Which are you living inside? Living with? Playing publically?

You can recognize archetypes manifest in something you're familiar with. A badly handled archetype becomes a stereotype, just as a badly handled "foreshadowing" becomes "telegraphing."

Last week we discussed Sharon Green's WARRIOR WITHIN starring Terrilian.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/11/astrology-just-for-writers-part-6.html (which post is mis-named, it is Astrology part 7)

Remember what we discussed and think about The Female Warrior Archetype - Amazon? - Marion Zimmer Bradley's Renunciates?

Archetypes do change how they manifest over generations. Yet the more they change the more they stay the same. Still, the available options you may choose from in your life or your novels change with the Group Mind.

You can change your options list by changing what Group Mind you belong to. Think about how a person can change when they do something drastic in their life - such as a religious conversion, joining the Army, graduating and leaving the "old neighborhood" losing touch with all the kids from class and finding new friends among co-workers. Consider a Rock Star fan who moons&moans, then cuts loose and goes Groupie, following the star around the world, associating with the Star's friends and forgetting family. Same person: different manifestation.

Today the female image has shifted markedly from where it was in, say, the 1940's before women contributed to the USA winning World War II. Now some women have become (or been brainwashed into becoming) suicide bombers, and there are more acts of violence against women in TV fiction than ever before since anyone started counting violence on TV. But at the same time, women are combat trained and gaining combat stripes in the armed forces, rising to high rank where that was prohibited before.

Something is changing in our Group Mind, and that change is accelerating.

But that's all very theoretical and abstract. Worse, that quick reprise doesn't even scratch the surface of what we can see once we are able to sort the world around us out into archetype and manifestation. But seeing doesn't accomplish much.

What can we do with this concept of the archetype?

Can we make our Group Mind change its mind about Relationships, and thus consequently about the merit of the Romance Genre in general and all its variants in particular, and possibly even the entire notion of what constitutes "peace" in this world?

----SKIP THIS NEXT SECTION IF...--------

...blatant bragging offends you or if you're already familiar with the origin of the Sime~Gen Universe novels and all the Star Trek connections underlying them, and how this all spawned Vampire Romance.

You can happily skip this section, and still probably get the point anyway. Scroll down to the next line of dashes where it says POINT.

In the Bantam paperback STAR TREK LIVES! on which I was the primary author, we discussed the then popular theory that "Spock" was actually a new Archetype - The Alienated Hero but heroic because of Intelligence not Brawn. In retrospect, it's clear that Spock actually raised the prestige profile of the Geek, the outcast Class Brain. Spock was considered sexy! The Group Mind attitude toward the Geek, The Brain, the Egghead changed in much the way we would like to see the prestige profile of the Romance Genre raised.

It's unclear whether the Archetype illustrated by Spock caused the change, or emerged because of the change sparked by Star Trek -- possibly this Group Mind/ Archetype Manifestation process is as interactive as the manifestation of Violence on TV vs. Violence in Society. Think of bootstrapping, or climbing the inside of a rock chimney. It's not either/or. It's a little this, a little that, until change manifests.

Smart men weren't considered sexy in the 1960's, any more than smart women were attractive.

The book STAR TREK LIVES! (which was published in 1975, six years after my first SF story sale and a year after House of Zeor, my first novel) blew the lid on Star Trek fandom and brought in (via the Star Trek Welcommittee) hoards of new fan writers brim full of stories to tell.

Some of those new fan writers had grown up reading Romance and though they may have watched the same TV screen with the men in the room, these women saw a different Star Trek. They saw hot romance sizzling in the background and sub-text of every scene, and that is what they wrote about in fanzines.

They literally invented from scratch what has become the genre of SFR or Science Fiction Romance.

The first Inspirational Science Fiction Romance is posted for free reading at
http://www.simegen.com/fandom/startrek/

And as published Relationship Driven HEA Trek, they lured many readers into the genre until it finally (after several sad failures) burst into the Romance genre scene with THE VAMPIRE ROMANCE.

Huh?

What has VAMPIRE ROMANCE to do with SFR? With Science Fiction?

Vampires are FANTASY. Paranormal. Aren't they?

Vampires are supernatural EVIL, so they have to be FANTASY right?
Vampires can't be Science Fiction?

Vampires are Horror. That's the vampire archetype. Right?

How many posts have I done on this blog explaining the paradigm and trope underlying genre fiction, and how a new writer breaks that trope at peril of life, limb, reputation and career?

Romance trope requires the couple find each other attractive (if not at first; eventually).  Real attraction often first manifests as repulsion, and that makes a good Romance, but ultimately it must transmute into an attraction the reader can relate to.

And how can anyone love something EVIL?

Evil isn't sexy.

Surely not?

Oh, our predecessors soooo lacked imagination!

Or did they?

When and where did SFR and romantic Vampires actually begin?

Margaret Carter, one of our staunch contributors on this blog is the expert on the history of Vampire literature, so I'll let her point you to the answers on that. It was actually longer ago than you might think.

Major classics of Great Literature aside, though, look again at that graph I pointed you to at the beginning of this post.

http://vampchix.blogspot.com/2009/11/rise-and-fall-of-vampire-romance-and.html

It only goes back to 1997 which is ancient history for most readers of this blog. But I'm discussing the manifestations of the Vampire archetype in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's. That graph would not be parabolic had there not been 30 years of cultivating of the Group Mind's taste before 1997.

The Romance mass paperback publishers found there was a sudden market in a certain age group for Vampire Romance.

The Vampire did, however, turn off a lot of romance readers.

It disturbs people. Even today you say "I write Vampire stories" in a full room and listen telepathically and you'll hear "Evil" and all the religious people will leave the room or try to convert you.

OK, so the Romance publishers started putting VAMPIRE ROMANCE or something similar on the spines of those certain, slightly different, romances -- romances with a supernatural dimension, edgy romances flirting with the issue of Evil -- to warn off their more sensitive readers.

Meanwhile, in Science Fiction and the budding Fantasy field (yes, before STAR TREK fanfic, there really wasn't much of an adult Fantasy field - "adult" not meaning graphic sex scenes, but fantasy that was not aimed at 10 year olds) there was a flood of Vampire novels published.

Concurrent with the Science Fiction genre was the Horror Genre, often confused with SF, and most all the Vampire novels ended up labeled Horror even those with Good Vampire Heroes. That was when I started reading a lot of "Horror" even though I dislike the Horror genre. Non-Horror genre novels were published under the "Horror" label because nobody else would have them -- they contained a VAMPIRE!

A genre example.

Star Trek was the first real SF on TV. When it was cancelled after the first 3 years, and went into syndication so successfully, producers began to search for a way to lure the Star Trek audience to a new show.
They presented Star Trek fans with SPACE 1999, thinking they had the combination. But SPACE 1999 was actually HORROR FANTASY, and SF fans just don't respond to Horror (or if they do, it's with a different part of their literary taste buds.) SF fans at that time were somewhat allergic to Fantasy as well because most of the best selling Fantasy writers were women (SF editors wouldn't buy SF from women, so women went and made their own genre. So what else is new?)

This was such a hot-button issue in the 1970's that when I was nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1973 for my Star Trek fanzine universe Kraith (up for free reading at
http://www.simegen.com/fandom/startrek/ ) there was a big political flap in SF fandom at Worldcon, and that was before K/S emerged.

Kraith plays with telepathic bonding and all the Theodore Sturgeon elements, Vulcan culture and its being shaped by telepathy. But those who voted against Kraith did so because it was Star Trek and was nominated by Star Trek fans who happened to be Worldcon members.

The feeling was that Worldcon was being taken over by "those people" - actor groupies who'd never read an SF novel. The disdain had a similar feel to the disdain focused on Romance and Vampire Romance. Today, Fantasy out-sells SF. If you graph the stats, I'll bet you find the same parabolic curve seen in the graph we're studying here on Vampire Romance titles.

In Science Fiction, the Hero prevails. The ending (as with Romance) has to have a specific flavor -- winning; triumph; achievement; understanding; satisfaction. Romance needs the HEA, the Happily Ever After, ending, and nothing else sells quite as well as an HEA.

An HEA can't actually be generated by a heroic success -- it isn't "Happily Ever After" if one partner forces the other to love them. That makes a good middle, but not an HEA.

SF needs the success ending, whatever success is. It has to be a definitive success and it has to be brought about by the Protagonist's personal actions which must proceed from the protagonist's ability to THINK CLEARLY. And preferably in an application of the scientific method, to resolve the plot's conflict via scientific reasoning even if the problem isn't actually a science problem.

SF became "Action-Adventure" because cerebral stories don't sell well, so publishing demanded that the SF novel end with a VICTORY imposed by FORCE of some kind - i.e. action. It wasn't enough to solve an intellectual puzzle any more. There had to be a physical problem with physical action and a physical resolution.

In the Horror genre ending, the protagonist must not prevail over Evil.

Evil can never be destroyed. The most you can achieve is to cram it into a coffer, a closet, a cave, and seal it with a magical seal that will hold for centuries, or millenia with luck. You have to leave the problem to your descendants. You can't win. That's the message of Horror. And SF is all about winning definitively, and that total triumph when a definitive solution slams into reality and changes everything.

The Horror premise is that evil is a property of reality, and reality wouldn't exist without it. Good and Evil must always be at odds, always in conflict, but neither can ever win.

The premise of SF is that humanity will prevail.

And that, as Gene Roddenberry said so many times, is the premise of Star Trek. We will go where no man has gone before, and we will prevail. We will prevail by intellect, compassion, and by wisdom. (He used that word, Wisdom, a lot in everyday talking, not just in speeches before throngs -- "When humanity will be wise ..."  )

It's a philosophical difference that the producers of Space 1999, and the next TV offering to Star Trek fans (marketed specifically to Star Trek fans) Battlestar Galactica (the original), just couldn't grasp.

And so both shows failed to capture the Star Trek audience which continued to grow and grow, through an animated Saturday morning cartoon version of Trek, through books and the films, and into several TV series, with convention after convention making headlines everywhere, even on TV news. What an embarrassment.

Eventually, Ronald D. Moore succeeded in creating a Battlestar Galactica remake that grabbed Trek fans - he had the experience.

Here's his comment on my theory of Intimate Adventure:

http://www.simegen.com/jl/intimateadventurecomments.html

That link reveals that Ronald D. Moore is a Sime~Gen reader, maybe fan, and it's posted with his permission. I did send him a set of Kraith Collected at his request.

Here's Ronald D. Moore's filmography on imdb.com

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0601822/

So after Anne Rice's first novel INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE became such a runaway best seller, Horror genre re-exploded with a new wave of Vampire novels. But they were horror vampires, bent on evil, destructive killers, not to be reasoned with, and with no shred of humanity left.

Then the Romance Genre pretty much invented THE VAMPIRE AS GOOD GUY and those books flooded the market for years. Then all of a sudden (about the time I was writing Those of My Blood - 1985-ish) you couldn't sell a Vampire Romance. Editors said don't send it, we're overstocked.

Everyone thought that meant they'd never publish any more, and the genre was a failure. I finished Those of My Blood anyway, and after more than 20 submissions (the only time that ever happened to me, and my agent was adamant that it would sell) it sold to St. Martin's Press for Hardcover. St. Martin's touted it as my breakout book. It was published in 1988. The paperback came out in 2003, but the new publisher refused to label it Vampire Romance because it takes place on the moon and so nobody would buy it. The graph we're studying begins in 1997.

Those of My Blood - Amazon Page.

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series started with Guilty Pleasures in 2002, and either rode or created a contemporary urban fantasy Vampire Romance/Horror genre mix. Look at 2002 on that graph.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show was on the air as TV beginning in 1997 when this graph begins.

Archetypes keep creating this kind of chicken/egg problem. When you can't solve a problem, as every math student knows, it's because you haven't stated the problem correctly.

OK, so what happened with the archetypes from Star Trek (1966) to now (2009)?

That's over 40 years, two generations.

These kinds of Group Mind archetype changes span generations. See my post on generations and taste from October 2009 which really is Astrology Part 6 (the November 2009 one is Part 7) -- on Pluto and the generations:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/10/astrology-just-for-writers-pt-6.html

Think about that post on Pluto because there's more to say about how Pluto manifests via the Group Mind and why it's so clear that Astrology is utter nonsense. Let the notions soak in for a while.

Archetypes are always shifting and changing in the way they manifest, but there is (by definition) a core pattern to each archetype that is somehow inherent in all humanity and unchanging through millenia.

These patterns turn up in all cultures over all times that we've any record of. The Vampire myth is everywhere in one form or another. It's always been there, just not the subject of popular fiction. (of course "popular fiction" and "mass market" are new phenomena, and are now melting away under the force of the specialty niche market ebook!)

So what happened between the advent of Star Trek fan fiction (STAR TREK LIVES! was published in 1976 but it was based on 5 years of research in Star Trek fan fiction) and the explosion of Vampire Romance novels that continues today in a rapidly evolving form of Paranormal Romance, SFR, and Time Travel Romance, etc etc.

How could Science Fiction spawn the Romance Vampire?

Science Fiction readers tended to loathe the Romance field. Romance readers tended to loathe Horror. All vampires are horror genre.

What happened?

Before there is a runaway best seller in any new sub-genre, there has to be what Heather at http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/ called in her post
http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/2009/10/does-science-fiction-romance-need-gene.html
a "Ground Zero" where the explosion of a genre happens.

Before we get to that Ground Zero, there are usually a number of novels that do pretty well, but just don't attract any attention. Audiences build a taste for a genre slowly (actually as we're seeing here over generations), and then BOOM something hits big time. Commercialization interests notice the small following, and promote it using sly, sneaky, underhanded but effective advertising tools that cost a lot of money.

And its a generational thing. In the 1980's, there were a series of children's books for pre-teens and tweens set in High School and featuring Vampires -- evil ones, and not-so unreasonably evil ones. They conditioned an entire generation to be willing to try things with fantasy and urban fantasy - and set the stage for Harry Potter.

In 1974, my first novel, House of Zeor was published.

It's the first novel in the Sime~Gen Universe, but my first sale is a Sime~Gen story that appeared in the January 1969 issue of WORLDS OF IF Magazine edited by Fred Pohl.

House of Zeor was reviewed by Jean Lorrah with the title of the review being VAMPIRE IN MUDDY BOOTS.

The Sime~Gen Universe is built on the Good Guy Vampire with a core of pure DANGER.

As a child, I had read a number of SF works with Vampires as aliens from outer space, or otherwise built on the Vampire archetype.

But I always felt there was something wrong, something missing, something just plain out of FOCUS in these SF universes. Very often they were published as SF but would have been published as Horror if they didn't have science fiction in them.

I wrote Sime~Gen to fix what was wrong with the portrayal of Vampires. The first story, Operation High Time, is available on the Web for free reading (It's not very good, but it is short.)

http://www.simegen.com/sgfandom/rimonslibrary/oht.html

From 1970 to 1975 I was working on STAR TREK LIVES! researching Star Trek fanfic (and writing tons of it in Kraith which you can read online for free at http://www.simegen.com/fandom/startrek/ ) and meeting Marion Zimmer Bradley, and marketing HOUSE OF ZEOR.

I was also raising two kids. I don't know how I did it all.

Sime~Gen, complete with Vampire archetype to the letter, came from the mid-1950's, long before I knew anything about archetypes, but I did know Vampires from SF.

I know now that what was totally missing from those early SF Vampires that I so needed to "correct" was Relationships as the plot-driver.

So that's what I wrote into House of Zeor - Relationship as a plot driver.

It's about Vampires in a Science Fiction Universe with a framework of a Romance plot, a solid love-story in every novel, a love-story that eventually shapes the way things turn out.

Sime~Gen has a hidden Fantasy premise (ESP, Magic, and the supernatural that comes out later in the novels). Because of ESP and Magick, it is disqualified as SF.

It's mixed genre with the mixture hidden so it could be published as SF (because no other genre would allow the SF part). But House of Zeor is actually a non-Horror Vampire novel with a love-story plot driver.

House of Zeor was written during and after I did a close analysis of Star Trek, Star Trek fan fiction, and why fans wrote (and read) Star Trek fan fiction.

The lead character of House of Zeor is Spock, but he's not the POV character. He's a scientist in a non-scientific world struggling to solve a problem with scientific thinking. So the book really is SF. But he's a Vampire with all that implies - except he's not supernatural, he just has supernatural Powers (but he doesn't know that).

I sold 65 copies of House of Zeor on a money-back guarantee in the expensive hardcover edition to Star Trek fans who liked Spock, and never had one returned.

I wrote House of Zeor to prove the validity of the hypothesis I set forth in Star Trek Lives! about why fans wrote stories about Spock. That's why House of Zeor had to be published before Star Trek Lives! (to see if what I said in STL! was true.)

House of Zeor connected. It was in print continuously for over 20 years, and came back in the Omnibus SIME~GEN: THE UNITY TRILOGY.

Meanwhile, Jean Lorrah joined me collaborating on Sime~Gen novels, and writing on her own in the universe, too. Many readers prefer her touch on Sime~Gen.

Further proof of my theory about the connection between the Vampire Archetype and Star Trek -- and thus the nature of the SF genre -- was supplied when fans of Sime~Gen began writing their own stories in the Sime~Gen Universe, spawning at one point, 6 publishing fanzines of fiction and non-fiction about Sime~Gen.


Much of that fan written material is currently available online for free reading, and new material is still being added at http://www.simegen.com/sgfandom/

which is an index page full of links to huge sections of Sime~Gen fan activity. To read fiction, see Rimon's Library at the bottom of that page.

To read free chapters of the published novels and find links and background information on Sime~Gen see
http://www.simegen.net (net not com)
or
http://www.simegen.com/writers/simegen/

So just as Star Trek spawned fanzines of fiction (prior to Star Trek, SF 'zines contained NO FICTION, but only non-fiction, letters, opinion, personal updates, the kind of thing you find on blogs -- and like fanzines, blogs have evolved to carry fiction), so Sime~Gen spawned fanzines full of fiction, and a little non-fiction.

The Vampire is still my favorite archetype, but as GOOD GUY.

------------POINT-------------------

At last, to the point of it all.

On this blog, I've been discussing various philosophical nooks and crannies, plus a whole lot of intellectualized analysis of story telling techniques.

I've discussed marketing, and genres, and social networking and the changes wrought either because of ebooks or that ebooks are the result of other changes in the publishing industry (such as a major change in the tax laws that killed the mid-list).

And each of these individual points I've made are defining a universe of discourse for solving the problem of the attitude of the general public toward the Romance Genre, and SF Romance and Paranormal Romance, Vampire Romance, Alien Romance.

I've told you a lot about writing technique, simply asserting that doing it this way assures your story will be forgotten and doing it that way will assure that your story will be remembered and called a classic.

I've never offered any evidence that I know what I'm talking about.

But I stumbled upon a bit of evidence in the last few weeks. I only realized what it was evidence OF a couple days ago.

Sime~Gen keeps getting mentioned on various websites, even blogs. So? That's nothing new.

When my sifting tools turn up one of those mentions, I try to find time to drop the blogger a note.

I found a blog a couple weeks ago that mentioned Sime~Gen. It was fairly typical, though outstandingly articulate and well written.

http://freyashawk.blogspot.com/2009/11/sime-gen-authors-query.html

On that blog entry freyashawk says:

"Some time ago, I wrote an article about a series of books that impressed me deeply when I first read them. They were novels about the Sime-Gen universe, created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg who, with the collaboration of Jean Lorrah, then proceeded to weave an elaborate tapestry depicting an alternate future of the human race based on a strange mutation.

Rather to my astonishment, Jacqueline Lichtenberg read my article and responded with a comment a few days ago. She wrote:

'Thank you for the nice words about the Sime~Gen Universe novels.
Please let us know what format you'd like to see these novels in next.'"

And a bit down the page, it says:

"I re-read the entire collection of Sime-Gen novels and stories last year, after recommending them to some one else who, like most of her peers, was infatuated with the 'Twilight' series. To me, the Sime-Gen universe depicted the same sort of social conflict that occurred between vampire and human, with concepts of prey and predator being turned upside down by love."

FLASHBURNED INTO MEMORY

Do you see my point? These books, read decades ago, persist in memory and get REREAD, then recommended to a new generation because they compare with something very current, like THE TWILIGHT SERIES.

Freyashawk did a second post that answers my question where she is staunchly advocating the necessity of producing reprints ON PAPER because ebooks are too ephemeral:

http://freyashawk.blogspot.com/2009/11/ongoing-correspondence-with-jacqueline.html

"Use the internet by all means to promote the Sime-Gen series and network with other writers, but find a way to PRINT the books at a reasonable cost. If you do not wish to organise that aspect of it yourself, I would expect that there are countless writers' groups and small publishers who would be more than pleased to assist in this project if the behemoths of the book-publishing world are too short-sighted to involve themselves. The reputation of any small publishing venture would be enhanced greatly if it were to produce a new edition of these Classics as well as new novels in the series."

This response from readers happens because of the techniques I have described in previous posts here, starting with the 20 posts on Tarot, through all the Writing Craft posts on theme, structure, plotting, story, conflict, etc etc.

Remember Archetype and Template as discussed above in this post.

The techniques of writing craft are like the archetype or template, but it's the content -- the specifics of the story -- that matter to the reader. If those specifics matter too much to the writer who then mis-applies the template, the reader will never recieve the message, the imagery, the content that matters to the writer -- for the same reasons cited above in the section about archetypes.

These writing craft techniques when applied to archetypes that are currently changing in a Group Mind's manifestation of them (Vampires-are-Evil to Vampire-as-Good Guy, is still Vampire Archetype), produce ReReadable Books, books that are remembered for decades and recommended to new generations.

Sime~Gen so easily gets flashburned into the reader's memory because the universe premise asks questions using the Vampire archetype, questions about real world current issues that the readers don't usually know, consciously, are really bothering them. But as Gene Roddenberry taught me, don't answer the questions. Just ask.

When you ask those obtuse, difficult, ellusive questions at the nexus of change in an archetype's manifestation, you capture the attention of those to whom the content matters but the delivery vehicle does not.

The Vampire Archetype manifestations (not the archetype itself; the manifestations) were morphing with the culture through the 1970's, '80's and still are even today, reflecting cultural changes such as the role of women, of racial prejudice, sexuality, the toxicity of violence.

How do you get your way? How do you get satisfied? How do you survive a crumbling life situation? What right do you have? How do you get what you need? And even though you have a right, do you have the right to exercise that right over everyone else's objections?

In Astrology, it's all bound up in 1st House/ 7th House matters, obstructed by 4th House / 10th House matters. That's another essay, but there are the 4 archetypes that quarter our existence.

It could be that the entire paradigm underlying our world culture is shifting more massively than anyone now knows.

The element that could be shifting is all about how one gets one's needs met -- taking your fair share from whoever's trying to keep it from you; exploiting the labor of others (slavery was abolished but continued to evolve via underpaying wages spawning Labor Union's battles); Charity and giving your fair share to taxes as a means of ensuring that Charity is done properly.

Think sweeping meta-history -- history about history. Get an orbital perspective on it all.

Giving and Receiving, the biggest, most abstract (dry, boring) concept behind Kaballah.

Shifts are happening generation to generation on that most fundamental level of the asbsolute structure of the universe.

Is "Evil" a fundamental component of our "Reality" -- or can it be vanquished forever? If we vanquish EVIL, will it take GOOD with it?

Do a quick run through some video games to check subject matter and problem solving techniques. What constitutes the problem in the most popular games? What's the conflict? How is it resolved to the benefit (high score) of the player? Much of gaming is about Good and Evil at War. Primal. Nothing new there. Shades of gray would spoil the fun.

The video game is today what the Vampire novel was to kids growing up in the 1980's. An obsession. I knew it then. My Vampire Romance hardcovers, Those of My Blood (1988) and it's sequel Dreamspy (1989) are still available now in paperback.

The "Vampire" is a perfect amalgam of the issues disturbing the deepest levels of our culture, the issues where the underlying archetype of human nature is changing the way it manifests (not the actual core of human nature; just the way it manifests, the part that matters to us living creatures, is changing. 2009's Halloween included Vampire films with awesome FX.

The Vampire is still popular, more popular as Horror, but go back again and just stare at that graph of Vampire Romance titles.

http://vampchix.blogspot.com/2009/11/rise-and-fall-of-vampire-romance-and.html

Think about what that means and we'll dig into it more in future posts.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

First impressions and epiphanies

In life, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". In fiction, your principal males do.... but only if they are interesting to begin with.

"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."
~Abraham Lincoln




I watched "Frost and Nixon" yesterday and found it quite riveting. "Cheeseburgers" was the sentence that changed my mind about the Frost character.

"I don't fleece my relatives," changed my mind about a bad boy hero in one Regency romance. He'd been established as deadly in duels, he drank too much, he was a hazard to other road-users, and he enjoyed the usual masculine vices of his time. However, he did have a personal code of honor.

Are there snatches of dialogue that have given you an epiphany about a character? Does there have to be a spoken turning point for every good protagonist?

Moreover, do readers and writers still have double standards? Do heroines get second chances? If we don't like the principal female in a novel, do we persevere in the hopes of getting to know her better?

I think not.

PS.
I'm doing NaNoWriMo, so I'm not supposed to agonize over and polish my latest alien romance too much... if at all. For now, the first indication that my hero might be redeemable is when he tells the heroine, (after she has thoroughly and dramatically foiled him),

"I wasn't looking forward to ravishing you."

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open Universes

The Japanese manga and anime industry is much more tolerant of derivative, fan-produced work than most American writers and producers are. (I don’t know the reason for this cultural difference.) In fact, many Japanese commercial graphic artists have come into the professional field from fandom, and it’s not uncommon for a professional to continue producing “fan” type work. Fan-produced manga is called “doujinshi.” THE OTAKU ENCYCLOPEDIA says “most professional manga artists respect this activity as the creative right of fans.” Quite a relaxed attitude toward copyright compared to what Western fandom lives with! There’s an annual doujinshi convention in Tokyo, Comiket, which draws over half a million people per year. The mind boggles.

In an interview in THE OTAKU ENCYCLOPEDIA, one of the organizers of Comiket is asked what makes a good doujinshi. He says, “Doujinshi are best when the original works are not too perfect and there are still things to say and explore” (p. 48). An interesting assessment. I wouldn’t necessarily call the source works “not too perfect,” although that description does apply to many of them (fan authors are often motivated by a drive to “fix” source material such as the last season of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST or the final episode of FOREVER KNIGHT). The second part of the sentence, however, sounds just right to me. I’d call it a question of “open” versus “closed.”

Some works of fiction are highly resistant to fanfic. THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY, by Suzy McKee Charnas, for instance (even if she allowed fanfic, which she doesn’t). Just for fun, not for distribution, I once wrote a story in which one of my vampire characters met her vampire, Dr. Weyland. That tale was pure self-indulgence on my part, and its main purpose was to explore how my character would react. There’s nothing in the closed plot of THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY that invites such exploration. On the other hand, one of the other great twentieth-century vampires, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Count Saint-Germain, would provide limitless scope for fanfic because of his millennia-long life during which he interacts with countless people in a variety of historical periods and cultures. (Yarbro also forbids derivative fiction, though.) The most fruitful fields for expansion by fans are found in works and series that create entire universes—e.g., STAR TREK, STAR WARS, J. K. Rowling’s magical Britain, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover, Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar, S. M. Stirling’s alternate-present DIES THE FIRE and its sequels, or Jacqueline’s Sime-Gen series. Worlds such as these leave plenty of open space for fans to insert characters and incidents. There’s even a STAR TREK group, headquartered at Starship Farragut, that films its own videos in a ST spinoff containing no characters from the commercial works. In imaginary universes such as these, there always remain “things to say and explore.”

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Astrology Just For Writers Part 6: Targeting a Readership Part 3

I reviewed an Astrology book, ASTROLOGY A COSMIC SCIENCE, on Amazon which just turned up (with my review) on a Dating Website (Dating?!!! hmmm. Had to read that.)

http://awardwinningdatingsites.com/320/astrology-a-cosmic-science/comment-page-1/#respond

Astrology A Cosmic Science is very old and the author, Isabelle Hickey, is now gone, alas, but this book came back into print recently.

It was written around the time Pluto was just discovered and Astrologers were trying to figure it out.

http://www.amazon.com/Astrology-Science-Isabel-M-Hickey/dp/0916360520/rereadablebooksr/

I had written about the book on Amazon:

------------------------

Strewn With Hidden Gems Of Wisdom
Rating:5 out of 5 stars
The strength of this book is the deep, rich context surrounding each topic. But for many, that would be its weakness.

I use it as a reference book – when I’m stumped by a chart, I just page through this book looking for new associations to break the logjam in my mind. But in truth, this is a book to read cover-to-cover, pasting in post-it-notes to mark the bits and pieces of unrelated but illuminating wisdom tossed into various discussions.

For example, in one very illuminating section of this book, Hickey discusses each of the signs as it manifests as the Ascendant – then under each sign as the Ascendant, she discusses each of the signs that would be on the other House Cusps if there are no interceptions, or if you use equal-house methods.

She shows you how the rising sign synthesizes with the signs on each of the cusps – to create some of the characteristics of people with that sign rising, and to color the house involved. This explains WHY a particular ascendant tends to produce people who behave a particular way.

The book is worth its price for that section alone — if you’re willing to just sit for a couple of hours and read all the rising signs, one section after the other. The faster you read it, the more sense it makes. The section is laid out very systematically, and that system reveals vistas of astrological truths in and of itself.

However, at random throughout the section, a few sentences, “throw away dialog,” and offhand allusions are tossed into other topics to point you to bits of knowledge about how astrology works and what it’s actually for. These bits are not taken up anywhere else in the book, not assembled, not set into a larger context, and not indexed. They just leap out at you as if outlined in soul-fire.

For example: In the section devoted to Capricorn Rising, which puts Libra on the 10th, Hickey says, “Venus’s sign in Saturn’s house is often loving for the sake of expediency. This is not true of the more evolved individual. Students often ask the question, “How can one tell the evolvement of an individual in the chart?” Character is shown by the signs in which the planets are placed. Planets in their sign of exaltation and in the signs they rule are indications of an evolved consciousness. Also the higher-octave planets — Neptune, Uranus, Pluto, and Jupiter — in the first, fourth, seventh, or tenth house show that the individual has had much soul experience in other lifetimes”.

You see? For that alone, this is worth the cover price, and there are lots and lots of those throughout the whole book.

Maybe these bits of wisdom aren’t actually true. But as you go, “Aha!” and pull out a dozen charts of people you know well to check out Hickey’s theory, you learn vast amounts more about astrology than you ever would have without investigating that theory.

I came to amazon today looking for links to used copies of Hickey’s book and was delighted to find it in print. I had been paging through this book at random the other day and it gave me a flash of inspiration. I used that insight to write two columns for my sf/f review column called ReReadable Books. Hickey had connected several sf novels for me, using the 7th House, the 6 of Swords and how they generate the art of storycraft. I’m a professional sf author, and teach writing online, and I needed to write a handout for the Writing Workshop at the World Science Fiction Convention. Before I leafed through Hickey’s book, I had no clue in my mind what I could offer at that Workshop. Then I produced a 14 page essay which will probably be the October and November installments of my column.

So, the strength of this book lies in the context surrounding the facts, a context which assembles random bits of the universe in which you live into a pattern that makes sense. But that context material is so randomly placed – so “stream of consciousness” in the style of Hickey’s writing that it’s impossible to use this book just to find out, say, the signature of the advanced soul.

You’d never find it if you searched the index or the table of contents. You have to read the entire book. (stock up on post-its).

And if you like this style of astrology (with a karmic and spiritual bent) – you really need Hickey’s book on PLUTO as MINERVA, and all about WISDOM. There’s a lot in that book I don’t agree with – but it surely makes you think.

Live Long and Prosper,
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
…-------------------------------------------------------
http://www.amazon.com/Astrology-Science-Isabel-M-Hickey/dp/0916360520/rereadablebooksr/

So I tried to post a reply on the Dating Site blog but it wouldn't accept it, I think because I'm not a member of the Dating Site and don't have their cookie on my computer.

So here's what I wrote in my comment, addressing members of the dating site, now redirected at Romance writers (and readers, for that matter).

This seems to be a posting of Hickey's book with the reviews from Amazon, including mine. I've learned a lot about Astrology and Tarot since I wrote that review, from Hickey and most notably from the great Astrology Teacher Noel Tyl whom I quote all the time.

Hickey's concept of Minerva as the symbolism for Pluto explains a lot about how and why Relationships form then blow apart violently (in divorce or worse).

Pluto transits transform people beyond recognition, but still within their Natal potential. Pluto, slowly but inexorably, fulfills natal potential, which is why it makes a good source of believable plot for a novel.

But such major Pluto transits tend to project the energies. Your transit can manifest via other people or the world around you, rather than within the psyche. It's hard for a writer to show-don't-tell the connection between the character and a sequence of plot events such as this:

... your boss fires you just because she's angry at someone else and you can't prove it. On the way home, you stop cleanly at a stop light, and a car whirls around the corner and T-bones your car. Your spouse files for divorce (what a relief) and your dog dies, and your replacement car needs a new transmission, and the house you win in the divorce springs a leak in the roof, and the insurance wasn't paid up, then your Mother dies (expected but the TIMING is exquisite) and at the same time, you win some award or have some totally explosive success that makes everyone you know and respect jealous, then you're diagnosed with Breast Cancer (thank G-d it's caught early, but you have no medical insurance because of the divorce and firing so all the inheritance is gone but you're alive).

Yep. The stuff of soap opera! Remember I did explain how Pluto is the absolute epitome of pure drama, intensified beyond all absurdities.

When a whole series of stuff like that just avalanches into your life over about 2 years, it is very likely a Pluto transit interacting with a) your Natal Chart and b) other major transits to your Natal Chart being amplified by Pluto.

Knowing that Pluto's energy of wisdom ebbs and flows through our spirits, we can learn how directing Pluto's energy into life is somewhat like trying to hold onto a fire hose running full blast. You definitely need HELP to keep it aimed where it can do good not harm.

And that help is your mate. Your Soul Mate.

If you're sitting on a big fire-hose, you need a Wisdom-Heavy Soul Mate to grab onto it behind you and aim YOU at a constructive task.

Well aimed, Pluto does not produce such a list of wild effects as I described above. Instead, it produces one clean, definitive Event from which you learn a new Wisdom, yielding to the lesson and reorganizing yourself around it. That too can make for great story theme and substance.

Pluto is not Love. It's Wisdom.

Love without Wisdom = Disaster.

That's the kind of Disaster that makes fabulous reading!

Below is a link to a blog post I did on Pluto and the generations of young people changing the world.

Those who are attempting to understand Relationships and the phenomenon of the Soul Mate might like to read some of my blog posts based on what I've learned of Tarot and Astrology applied to the field of Romance writing.

You can start with Astrology Just For Writers Part 6 and work your way back through the links in each post. Isabelle Hickey's Pluto/Minerva concept explains a lot especially about sex mixed with violence, bondage, and practices exerting excessive force. Hickey's concepts can provide alternative scenarios especially suited to writing Supernatural Romance and Paranormal Romance.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/10/astrology-just-for-writers-pt-6.html

------------------------

Meanwhile, I've just finished reading Deborah Macgillivrey's WOLF IN WOLF'S CLOTHING, a Dorchester Romance.

http://deborahmacgillivray.blogspot.com/2009/09/wolf-in-wolfs-clothing-now-in-kindle.html

I think I found her on twitter, and the book sounded right up my alley. I'd read about a third when I asked her the following as a comment on her blog (linked above)

---------
I'm still reading WOLF. Can you explain why you put the first really hot sex scene at the 1/3 point of the narrative and why it's over 10 pages long with several settings?

Since I keep writing blog posts on writing craft for the Alien Romance blog ( aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com ) questions of structure like this keep coming up.

Is this a Dorchester requirement or a pacing you find works with your readers? (and may I quote you?)

-------------

And she answered:

My characters act and react within their own parameters of who they are. In my second historical, “In Her Bed”, the first sex scene happened early on, simply because the plot opens with the heroine trying to get with child in order to hold onto her fiefs in Medieval Scotland. When and how characters meet, what is driving them, gives each story its own pace. In the first book in the Sisters of Colford Hall™ series, “The Invasion of Falgannon Isle”, Desmond comes to the island with vengeance on his mind. As soon as he arrives, he falls for the magic of the heroine and her quirky island, so their romance dictated the sexual scenes be put off. In “Riding the Thunder” the second book, Jago (Trevelyn’s twin) was in a flux, knowing their seeking vengeance against the sisters was not right. Thus, it pushed the sexual encounters farther back into the book because of his conscience gnawing on him.

When I created Trev, I wanted an arrogant man, used to taking life as he wanted, and little worrying about what happened after. He was a “wolf” in the truest sense. And he wanted Raven. He would not hold back, seeing sex as a way to bind Raven to him. Instead, it bound him to her?something he didn’t count on. Raven was the most vulnerable of the sisters, less willing to take risks. She’d spent so long creating a “Tolkein” faerytale world where she was safe, secure. Her letting go so early in the relationship and allowing Trev into her bed, her life, was her taking that ultimate gamble for something very special.

So, since I am allowed to write the stories as I want, it’s the characters themselves who say how the emotions and the sexual extension of that love occur and when. I love logic. Everything has to fit the logical make up of that character, or it just doesn’t fit. It won’t ring true for the reader.

If you find anything to help you, please feel free to use quotes.
November 2, 2009 4:56 PM
----------------------------

Now you can see from Deborah Macgillivray's track record that she has gained a readership that Dorchester Love Spell and Zebra Historicals know how to reach and serve. That's why she's "allowed" to write them as she sees them. She has created a market.

She has gained a gut-level understanding of the story that her readers are following, so she just has to follow her nose through her story to turn out a slam-bang perfect of its kind novel (yeah, she's that good).

Then I was thinking about WOLF IN WOLF'S CLOTHING (BTW it's not werewolf, and the paranormal is left gray and equivocal) and the similarity to Sharon Green's first DAW novel series, THE WARRIOR WITHIN. Green does not write that way -- follow-her-nose -- she does it on purpose.

Green took John Norman's Gor novels and (in response to a challenge uttered at a party at an SF convention) turned the Gor novel formula inside out and upside down (a totally unthinkable feat in professional story-telling at that time).

Sharon Green:
on Amazon

John Norman
John Norman on Amazon
 
Sharon Green took the cave-man, sword-slinging beast-man who rescued and ravished damsels with total disregard for their person-hood, and switched the point of view.

She did it pretty much on a dare (yes, I know Sharon Green and I like her a lot!)

The first novel sold so well, she got to do a whole series, showing how this character, Terrilian, a very strong woman with massive immaturity, learns that her preferences aren't the only ones that matter.

I couldn't put The Terrilian Series down! Really. Those books are as fascinating and absorbing as some of the best fanfic I've ever read, and I had never been able to read the source-material by John Norman.

Sharon Green dealt with teaching this lesson in Relationship to a woman, using the same trope John Norman used, but mirror-imaged.

See comments on my post http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/10/7-proofing-steps-for-quality-writing.html for comments on trope.

In the 1970's when women were struggling to attain a new identity in mid-life, Sharon's mirror-imaging of the male fantasy founded a blazing career for her.

But if you check the reviews of Terrilian on Amazon, though they are plentiful, there is a segment of the readership that came looking for "Romance" that went away bitterly disappointed.

At the time Sharon invented Terrilian, there was no commercial place for ANY relationship-driven action novels on either side of the Romance/SF divide. That was an absolute. (before the Web and e-books, there really was no place but the author's bottom drawer or fireplace.)

That was the decade when "Warrior" meant "male archetype" and nothing else. The female warrior archetype was literally "unthinkable" and certainly not commercial.

Yet Sharon Green's Terrilian novels, the series called THE WARRIOR SERIES, sold like hotcakes and therefore built a bridge over that divide with a very sophisticated use of the male action trope.

Sharon Green generated a public, popular, Group Mind image of a female warrior and what it means to be a female with warrior traits -- and those warrior traits are on the psychological level more than the physical (though physical courage is not lacking, it's not where the battle is joined).

There is no battle more fierce than the battle against one's own self-image.

As I've said before, there are things about writing that readers don't want or need to know if they simply want to read for the pleasure of reading.

But all writers could wish that most readers knew the difference between a badly written book and a book they simply dislike. I tried to address that issue of "Quality" in my post:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/10/7-proofing-steps-for-quality-writing.html

Despite the scathing reviews juxtaposed against the over-the-top rave reviews for Sharon Green's WARRIOR series, what you have in the Warrior Series is a very HIGH QUALITY piece of work.

Regardless of whether you like the dark story, the brutality mixed with sex, the raw power nature of the sexual component of what later (7 huge novels later) becomes a more emotional and intellectual Relationship, you should be able to see the QUALITY of what Sharon accomplished.

In addition to that Quality, Sharon broke trope without breaking it. She did what Hollywood always demands: something the same but different.

A great deal of what you see on the Romance and Action Romance stands today is based on the breakthrough Sharon Green made with this series.

You can make a fortune if you can master the thinking method used to arrive at the CONCEPT of mirroring the insanely popular male-action trope the Gor books epitomize, and selling the same male action-packed trope to WOMEN who wanted freedom without the price of maturity. That's where we were in the 1970's and even into the 1980's among adult women raised to be subservient to men.

Today, news reports of more violence against women on TV dramas than ever before are bandied about as a horrifying development, not as evidence of women succeeding in becoming Combat Officers in the Army (unthinkable development - there might be a woman in command over men! Can't have that!) Women now FIGHT and even win against men, in combat or board room.

Fiction didn't exactly lead the way, but Sharon Green and other writers who portrayed for the young generation of women a way of thinking, living and feeling that is both feminine and aggressive created a new trope for female-self-image.

Find the next thing that needs changing and invert the trope of that in our fiction.

THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT.

If you're familiar with both WOLF IN WOLF'S CLOTHING and WARRIOR WITHIN, you can follow this contrast-compare more easily but I'll try to make it simple (OK, you can stop laughing now). This is important because it's about "targeting a readership."

Wolf in Wolf's Clothing is written to a generation of women raised to expect themselves to have to mature and remain women.

Warrior Within was written to a generation of women raised to expect themselves to get everything without maturing in order to remain women. (i.e. there WAS no archetype for THE MATURE WOMAN in American culture; we had to invent it. Marion Zimmer Bradley was one of the leaders with her Renunciates of Darkover -- but RENOUNCING protection isn't the key to a woman's maturity. It's only a step.) Think of I LOVE LUCY which I hope you've seen in endless reruns. Lucy portrays the archetype of yore. Wolf in Wolf's Clothing portrays the archetype of the near future, what the 14 year old girls of today will mature into (maybe sans magic; maybe not).

Both attitudes of the female READERSHIP addressed specifically by AUTHORS, (almost two generations apart) -- both attitudes are culturally inculcated. They do not represent Natal Chart personality or any individuality.

What you absorb subconsciously before you are old enough to speak is really hard to edit later in life. (Magical Initiation, Religious Conversion, or a massive Pluto transit as described above can force you to edit your operating system and "recompile" the code.)

That originally absorbed cultural material becomes part of your identity. (look up CULTURE SHOCK and read Alvin Toffler's book FUTURE SHOCK and Edward T. Hall's book THE SILENT LANGUAGE).

http://www.amazon.com/Future-Shock-Alvin-Toffler/dp/0553277375/rereadablebooksr/

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_4_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+silent+language&sprefix=The+Silent

Both of which are products of the 1960's & 1970's culture and give you tremendous insight into what exactly has changed and where the next change of that magnitude is coming from. But these books give you the principles by which civilizations change on the archetypal level, and thus let you do some worldbuilding that readers will believe.

Macgillivrey and Green are both taking a character and "teaching them a lesson." And that lesson breaks their self-image.

Another series that does that with Pluto's huge hammer blows is the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The Pluto-Minerva lesson in Wisdom has to BREAK the person, SHATTER a wall they don't even know is inside them, DESTROY their very identity at its core, in order to penetrate "down" to the layer where the error exists.

We accept anything that resides at that inner level as "Wisdom." Even if it's wrong. Perhaps especially if it's wrong.

The process of rewriting, debugging, recompiling and rebooting that internal Wisdom Operating System isn't likely to happen without a major Pluto transit with all the dark power-symbolism erupting full force. (Pluto transits can work the other way, too, changing correct information into incorrect information - Pluto is not survival-oriented except on the Soul level.) The older you are, the more force Pluto has to bring to bear to create real change.

Once that erroneous information coded into the core being is removed and replaced by new information, the PERSON literally becomes someone else.

What gives them pleasure changes. What gives them grief changes. All the emotional circuitry leading from events in the outside world to the gut-level responses within gets rewired and the resulting behavior in response to stimulus changes.

Ah, but the NATAL CHART does not change!!! This is still the same life lived by the same soul.

But any human observer would say, no, it's NOT THE SAME PERSON.

What is it that can produce this effect?

It's not the standard Saturn Transit that often opens one's eyes, strips away things you depend on, and shatters your ego, challenging your values. Saturn makes great plot material, but this is deeper.

connect what happened when you were 27, with what happened at 28 or 29 -- that's the maturing effect of the first Saturn return. Don't trust anyone over thirty -- is true. It's a gulf you cross to maturity and your responses to input will change.

Macgillivrey and Green are writing about a different kind of transit from the Saturn transit.

The reason that SEXUALITY and VIOLENCE and FORCE and ABSOLUTLY IMPLACABLE determination and total OBSESSION and HORRENDOUSLY COMPLETE CHANGE and even CRIME (Pluto is violent crime), DISEASE AND DEATH,INHERITANCE and HERITAGE are the forces driving both plots is that the transformation these authors are writing about is a PLUTO TRANSIT transformation.

Scorpio. Pluto. Force majeur. The underground. The subconscious.

For more on the symbolism I'm discussing with Pluto see my post on the generation signature by Pluto's Sign
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/10/astrology-just-for-writers-pt-6.html

That post is also Targeting a Readership Part Two.

For contrast with Wolf and Warrior, my first award winner, UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER is about a FIRST SATURN RETURN and is driven by all the keywords of Saturn, even the background and worldbuilding is derived from Saturn keywords.

The change that both Macgillivrey and Green were illustrating artistically was a change to the deepest core ASSUMPTIONS (not beliefs) of the main character each was dealing with.

In the early days, Green had to teach a lesson on that level to women.

Today, we feel the need to teach men a lesson.

As currently transiting Pluto enters Capricorn and shifts emphasis and coloration, we are in the mopping up part of the Gender Wars.

I didn't mention in Astrology Just For Writers Part 6 that along with Pluto's entry into Capricorn we also are looking forward to Neptune entering Pisces, it's own sign.

Remember how I made the point that the generation born with Pluto in its own sign (Scorpio) had a greatly emphasized Pluto energy in their personality, the source of what they obssess on and enjoy most, what they're willing to pay for in entertainment? Neptune will become exceptionally prominent like that when it's in Pisces, its own sign.

2011 or maybe 2012 should show us more of how that will work on the general group psyche of current adults, and it'll be a good 15-20 years before we know what the children of that generation with Pluto in Capricorn and Neptune in Pisces will go for in entertainment.

But note that as Pluto transited its own sign of Scorpio, we got the MORE-MORE-MORE-VIOLENCE-POWER-IS-EVERYTHING generation of video game players.

Neptune rules Pisces, and as it transits its own sign the keywords connected with Neptune will manifest in our cultural assumptions.

One pervasive effect of Neptune is to convince you that your highest ideal (12th House, Neptune and Pisces are about IDEALS among many other slippery things including entertainment itself) - that your highest Ideal already is a fact.

Saturn is Fact.

Neptune is Ideal.

Pluto is Force.

Uranus is Freedom.

Uranus will simultaneously be entering Aries, ruled by Mars (war; whereas Pluto is the upper octave of Mars which might be seen as nuclear war, supervolcanoes rather than mere volcanoes).

These 3 factors (Pluto in Capricorn, Neptune in Pisces, Uranus in Aries) will persist while Saturn sweeps through Scorpio and Sagittarius and maybe on into Capricorn which Saturn rules).

That is the "atmosphere" we'll be writing our fiction in. People battered by those forces, concerned by those issues, burned out over dilemmas and conundrums (Neptune), fighting with their teenagers over what the teens see as reality, will come seeking LOVE CONQUERS ALL and THE ALL POWERFUL H.E.A.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/06/snow-dogs-and-happily-ever-after.html

What lessons will the people born with Pluto in Scorpio (1985-1995 or so) need to see worked out in their Art (our novels) as they live through these transits?

What lesson in Relationship, what Wisdom, has to be "beaten" (Pluto) into their "heads" (Aries rules the head).

What do they assume is true (Neptune) which actually might become true if they would "wake up" (Uranus) to themselves (Aries) and accept the Discipline (Saturn) of Wisdom (Minerva-Pluto).

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://www.jacquelinelichtenberg.com