Thursday, January 20, 2022

Presently Tense

Does anybody really like fiction narrated in the present tense? Apparently, to my bafflement, many people actually do, since that device seems to be a currently popular fad. Not only do authors write it, lots of editors accept it. Of the two most recent Ellen Datlow anthologies I read, each contains multiple present-tense selections. The January-February issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, which I just finished reading, includes twelve stories, of which five are told in present tense. To skew the balance further, one of those is the longest piece in the issue. Only one story strikes me as possibly justified in its narrative choice, being framed as a sequence of day-by-day news-as-it-unfolds reports.

Many years ago, I read a horror novella that enthralled me except for one feature: It was written in present tense and second person. "You walk to the top of the barren hill and find the ruins of an ancient stone circle. . . ." kind of thing. (Just an example, not a quote. The bizarre narrative style is the only specific thing I recall.) I've seen second-person-present-tense work very effectively in an occasional short story. At novella length, it was excruciating. An author I follow on Facebook dislikes present-tense fiction so thoroughly that it's an automatic downcheck for her. While I don't go that far, in my opinion present tense has only a limited justifiable use. It works well in the aforementioned rare short stories in second person. And if an author wants to leave open the possibility of a first-person protagonist's death, present tense can discourage the reader from meta-thinking along the lines of, "He can't die, because he's telling what happened in the past." (Only in a short story, though, not inflicted on us for the length of a novel or even a novella.) There are few other circumstances in which present-tense narrative doesn't annoy me. Sometimes it makes sense when used to distinguish current action from flashbacks, as Stephen King does in his recent thriller BILLY SUMMERS. I didn't mind it too much in that book, although I don't think it was necessary.

Why do fiction writers use present tense? I assume the idea is that telling the tale as if it's happening at this moment is supposed to enhance suspense or create a feeling of immediacy. It's probably meant to give the audience a sense of being immersed in the action. In my experience as a reader, that style has the opposite effect. Present-tense narration draws attention to itself and away from the story. It most often generates distance rather than emotional involvement. Conventional past-tense storytelling is "transparent" because it's what we've been conditioned to expect. When reading, we look through it, not at it. My advice, for what it's worth: As a writer, don't mess with what traditionally works unless you have a strong, specific reason for the change.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sauce For The Gander

Sauce for the gander...

In other words, “Lube for the schlong  but not so much for the cooch” (my words) is discriminatory and wrong, but it seems to approximate to the advertising policy on Facebook regarding adult products or services. The Center for Intimacy Justice cries foul.

Pleasure is verboten. So, too, are remedies for feminine maladies that Menlo Park men would rather not contemplate.

Legal blogger Jeff Greenbaum for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein andSelz PC looks into the complaint.

Here: 
 
Original Link:

 

Applicable to sauce with a different meaning (though, I will not get around to hooch), divorce and family law specialist and very fine blogger, Kirk C. Stange Esquire of the Stange LawFirm PC  counsels lawyers on how to get social media likes and follows.

Here:  
 
Original link: 

Kirk C. Stange's methods, rationale and advice should work just as well for authors, especially the suggestions about blatant self promotion. He looks like an interesting person to follow for any author interested in source material for divorce or family law /family court matters.

Saucy e-book pirates bite the dust in court.

Ukraine is home to the saucy  e-book pirating site KISS LIBRARY, which was sued by Amazon, PRH, and Authors Guild on behalf of 12 authors  in 2020 for pirating e-books at discounted prices  under Kissly.net, Libly.net, Cheap-Library.com, and other domain names.  The court recently awarded 7.8 million in statutory damages to the plaintiffs.

Let’s hope Ukraine makes sure that the damages are paid promptly, and that their pirate sites are shut down.

Speaking of money, January is the time to send out 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC.

https://www.usa.gov/get-tax-forms

https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1099mec

Authors, if in the course of your business you paid your webmaster or webmistress (whom I suppose the new, Microsoft Officious app may now suggest we now call webexpert and weblover ) $600 or more, you need to fill out a 1099-NEC.  Copy A must go to the IRS with a filing form 1096. Copy B must go to the webexpert or weblover.

Ditto if you paid a lawyer.

Incorporated businesses usually do not need 1099-NECs. PCs, LLCs, and individuals do.

This $600 threshold is probably why the IRS is now empowered to look at bank accounts, so it is probably more important than ever before to send out these forms and fill them out correctly.

Original forms are free from the IRS, and also from some public libraries.  If you have fewer than 10 forms, and do not own a typewriter or file-online account, you may use handwriting as long as you remember to use block printing, in black ink, and do not run over the outlines of the boxes on the forms.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

SPACE SNARK™ 

http://www.spacesnark.com/ 

EPIC Award winner, Friend of ePublishing for Crazy Tuesday   

 

 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Karen S Wiesner: Blurbs Series, Part 2: Series Blurbs

 Writing Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner

Based on Writing Blurbs that Sizzle--And Sell! by Karen S. Wiesner

Blurbs Series, Part 2:

Series Blurbs

This is the second of six posts focusing on writing effective blurbs for your books.

In Part 1, we talked about writing high-concept and back cover blurbs. Let's continue.

Part 3: Series Blurbs

At its crux, a series blurb strives to be a concise, breathtaking summary of your entire series that includes the major internal and external conflicts and the goals and motivations of the main character(s), perhaps as a group or some other concept (the driving force of the story). A series blurb will be a generalized sentence or paragraph that accurately covers, reflects and describes every single book in the series. A series blurb can make or break the sale of an entire set of books. Many publishers and certainly readers buy the first book in the series and every single one after it based on a sizzling series blurb that convinces them they absolutely have to read not only the first book but all of them in that set!

Let's first establish that the point of a series is that readers who follow it from one book to the next will get a richer, more complex, and emotional experience than those who only read a single book in the series. Those readers will understand the subtle nuances that one-time browsers won’t pick up on. For that reason, the author has to make enough vital connections from one book to the next in their series or readers will lose the purpose in reading that series at all. Therefore, the first step to writing a series blurb is to figure out what ties the books together.

Types of Series Ties

If each book in a series doesn’t somehow tie together or have a touchstone that helps the reader figure out how they’re connected, you could hardly call these books a series. There are three distinct types of series ties, but always keep in mind that authors frequently combine one or more of these in a single series.

·         Recurring Character or Central Group of Characters

·         Premise/Plot Series

·         Setting Series

The series ties will also help us figure out what the "who" aspect is of our series when filling out the next section of the Blurb Worksheet.

Finding the Focus of a Series: Story and Series Arcs

A story arc is introduced, developed, and concluded in each individual book of a series. In a series story, a story arc is short-term because it will be neatly tied-up in a single book within the series.

A series arc is the long-term thread that's introduced in the first book in the series, is developed in some way in every single subsequent book, but is only fully resolved in the final book in the series.

The series arc is usually separate from the individual story arcs, but both are crucial and must fit together seamlessly. As an example, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the story arc is the chamber of secrets plotline. The overall series arc, in the most simplified terms, is good (Harry) overcomes evil (Voldemort)—and that’s true for every book in that series. The series arc runs beneath the individual story arcs in each book.

Certain types of series don’t really need series arcs because they’re open-ended. No clear end is in sight, and therefore there is less need for a tightly delineated series arc that must resolve in the final book. In an open-ended series (such as some sleuth mysteries with a single recurring character—i.e., Hercule Poirot and the like), each book in the series is a standalone.

The series blurb should tell readers how all the books in that series are connected. If the series blurb is done well enough, those sentences will accurately reflect what every book in the series is about in a concise, intriguing summary. If readers don't understand the premise of your series in the blurb, they may not bother try reading the first book.

Now that we know what a series blurb needs to include, we can use a short form to provide the jumping-off point in crafting one of our own on the Blurb Worksheet:

Basic Series Information: Fill out as completely as possible, keeping in mind that you may not use all, much or any of this in your final blurb.

Series Title:

Genre(s):

[Who] Series Tie(s):

       Recurring or Cast of Characters Series

       Premise/Plot Series

       Setting Series

Basic Series Arcs:

[What] Conflict or crisis that sets the series in motion:

[Why] What's the worst case resolution scenario to the crisis situation?

We're going to use a modified variation of our "formula" for the series blurb:

Who

(Series Tie)

What

(Conflict or Crisis)

Why

(Worst Case Resolution Scenario) 

Note that resolutions are not usually needed in the series blurb, since you don’t want to defuse the intrigue or tension, but sometimes a resolution will work well in the overall series blurb. Play with it to see all the alternatives. 

Let's fill out the form and formula, this time with The Expanse Series. The books don't technically have a series blurb--not a definitive one anyway--the way the TV series does, but I've put together a slightly hybridized version below. 

Series Title: The Expanse

Genre(s): Science Fiction

[Who] Series Tie(s): Premise/Plot Series (though it could fit in other categories as well), in this case a futuristic galaxy that humans have developed and colonized. I.e.: Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. 

Series Arcs:

[What] Conflict or Crisis that Sets the Series in Motion: The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places.

[Why] What's the worst case resolution scenario to the crisis situation? A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark. 

We're going to use a slightly modified variation of our blurb "formula": 

Who (Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places.) Series Tie 

What (A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.) Conflict or Crisis 

Why (Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark.) Worst Case Resolution Scenario 

Here's the blurb for The Expanse Series: 

Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places. A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark. 

Remember the axiom we fixed in our minds earlier: If the blurb isn't effectively good, making you want to read the story inside the pages, it won't work. The goal is to get readers to read the book. Apparently, Tolstoy downed a gallon or two of vodka while trying to write the blurb for War and Peace. Truly, here is no better way to test an author's ability to write concisely in a way that engages and entices the reader into wanting more than with these three different types of blurb. Time to get down to that Blurb Hokey Pokey. 

In Part 3, we'll talk about some basics of crafting blurbs. 

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of Writing Blurbs That Sizzle--And Sell!

Volume 6 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection 

http://www.writers-exchange.com/3d-fiction-fundamentals-series/

https://karenwiesner.weebly.com/writing-reference-titles.html 

Happy writing! 

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here:

https://karenwiesner.weebly.com/

https://karenwiesner.weebly.com/karens-quill-blog

http://www.facebook.com/KarenWiesnerAuthor

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Luddites and SF

The term "Luddite" is typically applied to people who oppose technological advances. That's basically what I've always assumed the word to mean. Well, Cory Doctorow's latest LOCUS column corrects that misconception:

Science Fiction Is a Luddite Literature

Luddites were textile workers belonging to a secret society in England in the early nineteenth century, best known for destroying the newfangled equipment in textile mills. According to Doctorow, however, their primary objective wasn't the destruction of machinery. That was "their tactic, not their goal." Rather, their goal was "to challenge not the technology itself, but rather the social relations that governed its use." Doctorow details some of the local and global changes that resulted from mechanization of the textile industry. Factory owners could have used the new-model looms to improve employment conditions for skilled craftspersons. Instead, employers chose to hire fewer workers at lower wages. The Luddites imagined and agitated in favor of a different path for the industrial revolution. Doctorow gives several examples of how we, today, "are contesting the social relations surrounding our technologies."

New technology always generates social change, often with unanticipated consequences. Robert Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" is one story that pioneered the type of science fiction focusing not on aspects such as the technical details of how automated roads work, but on how their existence affects the society that uses them. An obvious real-world example, the automobile, had easily predicted effects on individuals' freedom of movement and the decline of passenger railroads, but few people probably foresaw the impact on courtship customs and sexual mores. With cars, the balance of power in courtship shifted from the girl, who invited the boy to "call on" her in her parents' home, to the boy, who invited the girl on a "date" outside her parents' control. And of course the automobile gave young couples more freedom for sexual experimentation than they had under the old system. Consider the telephone: In his final novel, TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET, Heinlein has the narrator's father, a doctor, predict at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century that telephones in the home would mean the end of house calls. When the only way to get a home doctor visit was to send someone in person to summon him, patients expected house calls only in emergencies. Once they could contact their family physician by picking up the phone, they would call for less and less urgent reasons, and doctors would soon refuse to cooperate. (This decline probably happened more slowly than Heinlein anticipated; I have a dim memory of the doctor's visiting me at home when I had measles around age five, the only time I've personally encountered a doctor's house call.)

Like the mechanical looms in the early stage of the industrial revolution, most if not all new technologies benefit some people while disadvantaging others. The ease of paying bills and performing other transactions online provides great convenience for most while disadvantaging those who can't afford a computer and internet connection or, like my ninety-year-old aunt, simply decline to adopt those "conveniences." Businesses now routinely expect customers to have internet access and hence make transactions more difficult for those who don't. Cell phones have made fast connections everywhere all the time routine, so that people are often expected to be instantly available whether they want to be or not. Moreover, as pay telephones have been used less and less, they've tended to disappear, so when anybody does need one—whether because he or she doesn't have a mobile phone or because the battery has run down or they're in a dead zone with no cell service—a phone booth is almost impossible to find. I actually "met" a person nagging me for contact information on Goodreads who accused me of lying when I said I didn't own a smart phone. (Yes, I have a cell phone for urgent or otherwise time-sensitive communication away from home, but it's a plain old "dumb" flip model.)

According to Doctorow, science fiction is a Luddite genre because both the historical movement and the fiction "concern themselves with the same questions: not merely what the technology does, but who it does it for and who it does it to."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Word Nerd Day

Today, January 9th (Sunday) is a day to celebrate word-nerdiness.    

Word to the wise: if you see some apparently verbose and pretentious use of English in Op Eds today,  pause before beclowning yourself with a snarky comment. The author might be celebrating word nerd day.. as am I.

The Weather Channel celebrated strange and powerful words for wind, this morning: Haboob, and Derecho.

My new word of the day is anosmia, ( loss of sense of smell).

Someone I know tells me that she has lost her sense of taste and smell since getting her 3 Pfizer jabs. (The jabs, not the virus). Dining is reduced to routine mastication, which might be helpful if one wishes to lose weight.

Apologies for brevity. 

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

SPACE SNARK™ 
http://www.rowenacherry.com
EPIC Award winner, Friend of ePublishing