Thursday, October 22, 2020

Horror as a Coping Mechanism

It comes as no surprise to me that a recent psychological study suggests horror fans may be uniquely well prepared to confront scary realities:

Horror Fans Prepared to Cope with Our New Reality

"How does horror teach us?" One authority quoted in the essay says, “What’s special about horror is that the genre lets us chart the dark areas of that landscape [of hypothetical frightening scenarios] — the pits of terror and the caves of despair.” Horror fiction serves as rehearsal for confronting our real-life fears. Its function as "catharsis" is also discussed. Moreover, its monsters and other threats often work as metaphors for societal anxieties. The familiar example of Romero's undead in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is cited as reflecting the "existential" fears of its time.

In his history of horror, DANSE MACABRE, Stephen King argues that all such fiction is ultimately designed to grapple with the fear of death. Death is "when the monsters get you." This essay mentions King's PET SEMATARY as a story that explores the potentially tragic consequences of evading the reality of death.

One of the study's co-authors praises the "prosocial" dimension of horror. “Horror fiction is very often about prosocial, altruistic, self-effacing characters confronting selfish, anti-social evil." Much classic horror focuses on good versus evil, with the heroes working together to defeat the monsters. DRACULA and the majority of vampire fiction inspired by it offer obvious examples. Of course, not all horror follows this pattern. Sometimes it's bleak and hopeless, with no objective "good" or "evil" in the universe, as in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories, in which protagonists who survive usually do so by sheer luck. However, even horror without the religious or spiritual worldview of a vampire tale wherein heroes brandish crosses or King's IT, wherein the heroes know "the Turtle can't help us" yet draw upon a still higher power beyond both It and the Turtle, can showcase the bonds among human beings who fight together against larger-than-life threats.

Therefore, I've always thought it's strange that some people consider reading, watching, or (gasp!) writing horror a symptom of a warped psyche.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Index to Verisimilitude vs Reality

Verisimilitude vs Reality

Here are blog posts about how to create fiction based on Reality using a similarity to reality, verisimilitude.

Verisimilitude --- from Wikipedia

Verisimilitude is the philosophical notion that some propositions are more true or less true than other propositions. The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory. Wikipedia

What is "fiction" if not a "false theory" that is closer to Truth than another false theory?

Reality is True. Fiction is True. Neither is Truth without the other.

Part 1

Part 2 Master Theme Structure, The Camera, Nesting Plots and Stories

Part 3 - The Game, The Stakes, The Template

Part 4 - Story Arcs and the Fiction Delivery System

Part 5 - So What Exactly is Happiness?

Part 6 - Show Don't Tell Theme

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 18, 2020

What's In A Name?

Some words are widely misunderstood, others have changed their meaning over time, and some have been deemed too archaic to be worth recording.

When Juliet  Capulet said, "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" She did not mean, "Where art thou, Romeo?"  She meant, "Why, Romeo, did you have to be born the son of Lord and Lady Montague?"

Maybe the rot set in the 60's with a song, "Don't sleep in the subway, darling" when the lyrics included a reference to "Whys and Wherefores" as if the two words were not synonyms.

One cannot trust online dictionaries for guidance, it seems... although, I can still find "absquatulate" (to decamp) and both meanings of "momentarily" are available (in a moment or for a moment).  However, on Wednesday Oct 14th, unilaterally, one dictionary changed the definition of "sexual preference" in hours.  Normally, Dictionaries announce new inclusions and deletions once a year.

Some articles on the topic show images of George Orwell (aka Eric Arthur Blair), to suggest that this is a frightening, "Orwellian" move by an internet influencer to change language to support a political narrative. But, that is all by the by. Or by the byway!

Nouns are important, as are all words. Without words, we cannot reason. When the meaning of a noun or verb changes suddenly, myriad written works become --perhaps-- obsolete or offensive, or inaccurately convey the writers' intended meaning at the time of writing.

Legal bloggers   Adrienne S. Ehrhardt, Rebecca L. Gerard, Elizabeth A. Rogers
, Guy B. Sereff , and Ryan T. Sulkin for Michael Best and Friedrich LLP  have generated a very useful compendium of Cyber Security vocabulary terms


On a completely different level, the copyright office is extending copyright protection to blogs.  It appears that a blog like this one would have to file jointly (because there are 3 of us), every quarter, for copyright protection of up to 50 individual posts.

Legal blogger  Brandon W. Clark   for McKee Voorheis and Sease PLC explains.


For blogs where authors serialize a novel, Dickens style, this would be very useful indeed.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Living in the Moment

Kameron Hurley's newest LOCUS column further discusses the quandary of living in these fraught times.

Measuring Life in Keurig Cups

She describes the joy of creative projects other than writing, endeavors that engage the body and senses such as the backyard pond she and her spouse constructed. She reminds herself and us that we can choose to brood over what's happening in the country and the world outside of our control or focus on what we can control, how we spend our own time.

I especially like her quote from Paul Harvey: “During times like these, it helps to remember that there have always been times like these.” Hurley brings up the example of Monet painting within earshot of bombardment during World War I. I often remind myself that the country and the world have survived much worse and returned to whatever "normal" may have been at the time. Consider the plague-devastated village at the end of Connie Willis's DOOMSDAY BOOK or London during the blitz in her BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR. And yet here we are.

A message in Hurley's essay that particularly resonates with me is the theme of living in the moment. She puts it, “Am I physically all right, in this moment? Is everything okay here, in this moment?" This is a reminder I try to invoke for myself regularly, but I tend to think of it in negative terms: Is anything terrible or unbearable happening right now? The answer is usually "No." Of course, it may occasionally be "Yes," as with acute grief or terror or agonizing physical pain. More often than not, though, I suffer self-inflicted unhappiness by obsessing over bad things that may or may not happen in the future. Even impersonal forces such as political trends—sometimes I have to figuratively hit myself upside the head with the reminder that if the party I oppose wins the November election, the apocalypse won't descend upon us in the first week of November or even on Inauguration Day. To paraphrase a quote I came across somewhere recently, worrying doesn't make tomorrow any better; it makes today worse.

Since, unlike Hurley, I don't have a creative avocation other than writing, I make a conscious effort to take note of good things happening day by day—e.g., sunny weather, functioning cars, appliances, and utilities, reasonably okay health, Facebook videos of our youngest grandson (age two), the convenience of ordering books and other treats online, the restaurants that have reopened, etc. I've started posting some of these daily on Facebook under the label "Today's Good Things," most of which probably give the impression that my life is rather boring. That's okay; I prefer boring to chaotic. I also keep track of the daily word count on my current work in progress, which encourages me with the sense that I'm accomplishing something, however slowly.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Verisimilitude vs Reality Part 6 - Show Don't Tell Theme

Verisimilitude vs Reality
Part 6
Show Don't Tell Theme 

Previous parts in Verisimilitude vs Reality

Part 1

Part 2 Master Theme Structure, The Camera, Nesting Plots and Stories

Part 3 - The Game, The Stakes, The Template

Part 4 - Story Arcs and the Fiction Delivery System

Part 5 - So What Exactly is Happiness?

Now in Part 6 we'll look at a TV Series - just one scene out of several seasons of the Netflix Original, MADAME SECRETARY.

I think the scene I'm going to analyze is from Season 2, Episode 5 or 6.

As you probably know, Madame Secretary is about a woman who comes from CIA roots, was a station chief in Europe, and with friends in high places ever rising, ends up working for the Secretary of State because a good friend becomes President and another good friend becomes Secretary of State.  Her kids have grown up associating with the President's son - Washington becomes a family business.  (Oh, and she's married to a former field operative now a Professor of Religious Philosophy and history buff.)

She uses her experience in the spy business to work out problems at the international level, and "wings-it" through complex situations, deeply disturbing career professionals in the State Department.  She becomes Secretary of State when her boss dies in a plane crash and she's next in line.

She discovers her boss, the former Secretary of State, was actually murdered, and there were unsavory money trails connected to that.

As she's investigating the murder of her boss, she solves more international problems. The whole plot-arc reminds me of SCARECROW AND MRS. KING, but instead of applying housekeeping skills to international affairs, she applies CIA spy craft skills.

The whole thing is a Mary Sue, wish-fulfillment-fantasy, superhero Mom TV Series - well produced and very entertaining.

It has a contemporary setting, and is very adroitly RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES.

Here are posts about ripping story material from the contemporary headlines:

Even if you're sick-sick-sick of the news and politics, this is a very diverting and interested show -- transparently Hillary or not, it works very well.

One reason it works is the depiction of the HEA life.

This show is about a couple years and years into the HEA life -- their oldest kid of three is in college.

The Secretary of State job is high-pressure, fast moving, an emotional jerk-around every day.

You'd think a professor's life would be placid - but unbeknownst to the Secretary, the CIA re-recruits her husband for a spy job.  He confesses the offer to her, and they make the decision together that he will take the job.

Eventually, by this point in Season 2, he has been promoted from field operative to "Handler."  His cover job is teaching international students the history of war.

The Secretary's brother is a doctor working in a hot-zone of the Middle East, lots of shooting, lots of wounded to care for.  He's in a position like Doctors Without Borders.

This episode opens with the doctor, scruffy beard and all, doing surgery on a critical patient when two tough guys, looking like Secret Service in battle gear, burst into the tent where he's improvising through a lack of supplies.

They are there to grab him and exfiltrate him back to the USA -- because there are death threats against his sister, the Secretary.

He goes, reluctantly but cooperatively - and he's steaming mad about it.


He's getting out of a car in front of her DC house as she's arriving and walking to the stairs.  He's still steaming mad and charging at her confrontationally -- all body language, not much dialogue.

Her Secret Service detail flattens him against a car's hood.

She notices, turns and flies to the rescue, "That's my brother!"

They let him up.

Her kid comes skipping down the stairs and wraps a hug.

Escorted inside, there's the big family scene, and how upset he is being dragged back to DC.

The explanation is that he could be kidnapped and used to blackmail her into whatever the terrorists want.

The THEMATIC MESSAGE is encoded in the camera work and dialogue, or lack thereof.

We have the Secretary of State under heavy Secret Service (more than usual) guard, being accosted by a scruffy dressed, bearded man (he's a big man, too).

The Secretary of State has to TELL her Detail it is her brother!

We have Secret Service body guards who don't do their homework to be able to recognize her family, and apparently haven't been looped on the memo about the Secret Service collecting and repatriating her brother a few hours ago?

Why do they wear those little earphone thingies if not to be informed of movements among their outfit? Why weren't they hearing a report as the brother's car stopped?

We have a clear "show don't tell" scene saying the Secret Service is incompetent.

This scene is more vivid because for all the previous episodes, the matter of her predecessor being murdered has been a Plot-Arc.  That murder was a failure of his Secret Service detail.

So on the plus side, the Secret Service flattened a potential attacker -- which is their job, and they did it well.

But find that scene and check out the camera work.

The Detail guys back off INTO THE SHADOWS, the camera slides away from them -- no emphasis on their chagrin, embarrassment -- no supervisor coming up behind them to give them what-for.

The Secretary does not upbraid them for failing to recognize her brother, does not yank out her phone and scorch the ear of the supervisor who didn't inform her detail that her brother was approaching.

Watch that scene carefully and really think about what's NOT there!

What theme do you think it illustrates symbolically.

The absences bespeak some of the themes of this show, the envelop theme about competence in Washington - at the helm of the most deadly government in the world.

Put this brother-arrives-steaming-mad scene in the context of the previous episode where Air Force One is "hacked" and the President, Vice President and Speaker of the House are not available to sit the Oval Office chair.  Madame Secretary gets sworn in as temporary President while they struggle to find out what happened to the President's plane.

Consider all the episodes where Madame Secretary pulls off strategic maneuvers and oddball decisions making everything come out fine when all the professional Washingtonians fail.

It's a Mary Sue.

She's the competent one - everyone else except her husband are fumbling idiots.  But because they are on the scene, the ship of state is on an even keel.

They have three pretty normal children (despite their oddball upbringing), and a very solid marriage.  They communicate.  They co-parent with grace and competence.

They both enjoyed being CIA field operatives, solving problems on the fly, going adventurous places, depending on knowledge and their backup teams working smoothly.

They bring matured skills to the jobs of Washington top-drawer decision makers.

They are in the Happily Ever After -- it is right there in front of the public's eye in one of Netflix's most popular dramas.

And her brother is steaming mad, despises her politics and career choices, and she uses information he provides while they are fishing to destroy a Terrorist (who also smuggles medicine).

Is your Happily Ever After being in a position where you are the most competent person around?  Most of the time, you can get powerful people to make reasonable decisions, but not always.

In a town where even the Secret Service bodyguard details are incompetent, how can anything get done right?

THEME: Incompetence can safely be ignored.

You don't think that's what the "That's my brother," scene says?

What isn't there speaks volumes.

How would you rewrite that episode's script if the theme was, "The USA Secret Service body guards are better than the reputation of Israel's Mossad."

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, October 10, 2020

No Old Chestnuts

 Titles matter. Originally, this short article was to be "Autumn Opportunities", then "Chestnuts" but "Chestnuts" or "Old Chestnuts" seemed uncivil. Hence the addition of "No..."

Starting on Tuesday, October 13th, the Authors Guild is running a series of conversations on Zoom, "From Manuscript to Marketplace."

This is the registration link.  It does not appear that participants have to be members. It ought to be particularly helpful for new writers who wish to learn more about the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing.

There is an old chestnut of an entry theme mentioned in the "Don't Do" details about the Writers Weekly 24 Hour short story contest.  Only the first 500 entrants may compete for 85 prizes. Entry fee is $5 and the 24-hour contest begins on Saturday January 9th, 2021.

If writing a short story within 24 hours seems like an adrenalin rush, try a full length novel from start to finish in 30 days. That is National Novel Writing Month, every November.  Read all about it. Sign up. I don't believe that you have to donate to the charity.  Even if you don't participate, there are some excellent pep talks to inspire and motivate.

There are many regional sub-chapters with events and support, so if you are a procrastinator, this might be the event that gets that first draft done.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Stubborn Skepticism Versus Indiscriminate Gullibility

Working on a paranormal romance novella, I'm presently dealing with a recurrent problem in fiction of the fantastic: How long should a character keep rejecting the possibility of the supernatural before admitting it exists? How do you find a balance between jumping to the conclusion that every anomaly proves the existence of a vampire or ghost and clinging to adamant disbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence? Most people who discovered a century-old photograph that looked uncannily like a present-day acquaintance wouldn't think he must be a vampire, after all. They'd say, "Wow, what an amazing family resemblance." On the other hand, if they saw their friend turn into a bat or a cloud of mist, it would be only sensible to entertain the vampire hypothesis.

In DRACULA, Dr. Seward at first quite logically rejects Van Helsing's pronouncement that Lucy has risen from the dead as a vampire. After all, Seward is a man of science, running a "lunatic asylum" according to the most up-to-date precepts and practices. Of course he's aghast that his revered teacher, with advanced degrees in multiple fields, would embrace outmoded superstitions. Even when they find Lucy's coffin empty, Seward falls back on the obvious explanation of grave robbers. Only when he witnesses the undead Lucy walking in the cemetery does he open his mind to the horrible truth. After that, though, he drops his objections; he doesn't try to insist she's a hoax or hallucination.

Right now I'm reading THE HOLLOW PLACES, by T. Kingfisher, an outstanding horror novel featuring an alternate universe. It offers a skillful treatment of the characters' shift from skepticism to belief. When the narrator finds a hole in a wall of her eccentric uncle's combination home and novelty museum, she assumes a visitor must have damaged the drywall and left without mentioning the mishap. Upon starting work on a patch, she and her friend Simon discover a large open area behind the wall. Naturally, they first believe they've stumbled into extra space that was walled off for some reason. As they explore, they see that it's much larger than the dimensions of the building should allow. Even then, they don't think they've fallen through an interdimensional portal. They discuss ideas such as a tunnel constructed by illegal alcohol dealers during Prohibition and try to rationalize the fact that they don't seem to have gone up or down a level as they should have. When they open a door onto a fog-shrouded river dotted by numerous small islands, though, they realize they've entered an alternate world, an "anti-Narnia," as the narrator says. Despite Simon's joking remarks about being poisoned by black mold, they don't seriously waste time on the possibility that they're hallucinating.

My work in progress features a ghost child who performs poltergeist-like tricks. At first, the protagonist does her best to attribute the odd events in her house to the cat, her seven-year-old son, or even herself in absent-minded lapses. Further along, she contemplates whether she might be sleepwalking and moving things around or whether she dreamed the strange singing she thought she heard. The sight of the little girl vanishing before her eyes forces the heroine to accept the supernatural as real. I consider it plausible that an otherwise normal, stable person would believe in a ghost rather than assume she's suddenly gone crazy with no provocation. The latter happens in vintage horror movies, not ordinary life. For the same reason, her highly skeptical boyfriend converts to the ghost hypothesis when he, too, witnesses the child disappearing into thin air.

Where should the creation of a character in fantastic fiction draw the line between the extremes of hardheaded materialism and softheaded gullibility? The former can make a character very annoying, but the latter can lose the reader's sympathy, too. The main reason I never cared for the SCOOBY-DOO cartoon series when our kids used to watch it was that, no matter how many times the gang exposed a haunted house as a hoax, when they investigated the next "ghost" Shaggy always believed in it as uncritically as ever.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Soul Mates and the HEA, Real or Fantasy, Part 11 - Soulmates Explained

Soul Mates and the HEA, Real or Fantasy
Part 11
Soulmates Explained

Previous parts in this series are indexed at:

To convince a reader that, in your well-built world, Souls are real and it the components of reality necessary for two Souls to be "mates" are in existence, you have to take into account the target audience for your Romance novel.

This speaks to the topic of verisimilitude we keep returning to as a primary tool of the far-out science-fantasy writer.

For many decades, Romance publishers and writers, and readers, didn't consider "Romance Genre" as a science fiction genre -- and if "Fantasy" it was somewhere beneath bad comedy in the prestige list even though Romance has always out-sold Science Fiction.

Now, Paranormal Romance and Science Fiction Romance are considered "mixed" or "cross" genre.

My contention is that there is no mixing involved. Romance has always been science-fantasy.

Romance is "science" because it investigates the formation of bonds, just like chemical bonds, that we don't fully understand but we know they "just work."

Romance is "fantasy" because the plots represent the highest aspirations of the readers looking for a life-turning-point.

Most fans of Romance either know from experience or believe from self-knowledge, that Soul Mates
are real.

We either know a couple that just clicks like that, or we have been part of such a couple.

Those who flatly disbelieve in the HEA, the Happily Ever After ending, still enjoy a good Romance novel simply assuming that the ending is an HFN and eventually something will happen to catapult the couple into renewed misery.

As a Science-Fantasy subgenre, Romance has the opportunity to convey to the skeptics a real-world theory of what, exactly, Soul Mates are according to supernatural scientific theory.

Many religions grope into the problem of conveying a model of reality that includes Souls, immortal and otherwise, always trying to make it simple for the average person to grasp.

And where there are Souls, there is the possibility of two of them belonging together, somehow.  Maybe it's unfinished karma from a previous life, or a Parent-Child relationship playing out, or some other theory.

Maybe, if you're doing Aliens on another planet, you'll need to invent one (probably more) religion that is substantially different from anything suited to humans. To do that in a way that human readers can grasp and learn from, you will need to know a lot about a lot of different religions and their take on Souls.

There are questions to ask.

1) How are Souls structured?

2) What kind of civilization would Aliens without Souls create?

3) What kind of civilization would Aliens with complete, whole, self-contained Souls create?

4) Can Soul Mates bond completely and still have one or  both lack Happiness?

You'll need a real-world theory of Soul Mates, and a set of questions that probe your Alien culture to reveal how and why the Aliens differ from humans. Then you need to design a human who can bond across that Soul-Gap, and a reason why that human would do that.

Google Soulmates Explained and pull up a wide perspective on Souls and Mates.  Keep the frame of reference we explored in "So What Exactly Is Happiness"

And keep asking yourself, as you read different philosophies, whether simply living with a Soul Mate, even bonding or marrying, produces Happiness.

Is meeting a Soul Mate a sufficient condition for the HEA?  Is it even a necessary condition of Happiness.

Then check out this 2-minute video explaining Soul Mates:

Notice the glancing reference to "life's purpose" or the purpose of life, and what that has to do with happiness.

To convince the skeptic that the HEA is real, in fact common, there is a lot of thinking to do about what Happiness actually is, if it even is a real thing.

Find out what your target audience thinks happiness is, find out why they think that, then challenge the roots of that belief. Disturb your readers and you will engrave your byline on their memories.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Piracy, the Photographer, and the Photographer's Models

I found Mitchel Gray in the front matter of Men's Health Magazine in 1994. At least, I found his name in very small print, in the credits for the photograph of the cover model. Over the years, he has been my go-to source whenever I have needed a gorgeous, shirtless male for my books' cover art.

This double portrait of an NFL player is an example of Mitchel Gray's artistry from his "Bodies In Motion" series. The most unique feature of this series is that both figures are the same person.

Please note that the image is watermarked in dark red (which is subtle, but "there"). The copyright belongs to Mitchel Gray, the image is shown here with Mitchel Gray's explicit permission. Snag it at your peril.

Print costs vary according to the size of the print, and are available from 11 x14 to 40 x 60
$750 - $4,000.  Licenses for cover art and more would depend on time frame and usage.  To see more, check out

Recently, I asked Mitchel Gray a flurry of copyright infringement related questions.

1) How has piracy affected you?  (Have any of your photographs been snagged from the internet and exploited by someone without permission?  Have you found any of your photographs, without your permission or payment, on any of the sites that sell licences to use images?  Have you found any of your images online with the copyright information cropped out or stripped out?  How does that make you feel? 

Mitchel: Piracy has not impacted me terribly badly, but certainly a few times --as far as I know-- and that’s the problem. I may not be aware of any number of snagged images. I try to watermark any online usage of mine, but that certainly does not exclude being “copied and pasted” directly from my website or elsewhere my pix may appear -- there are some very competent “thieves” out there. I have not found my images on the sites that sell licenses, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there—I can't spend all the time required to search. I have found images online with my credit removed, but that usually occurs when the models post the images—and not that often even then. Sometimes the client will do it. 

It’s very irritating.

My next salvo of questions were:

2) How does a photographer make money?  What does piracy do to your cash flow?  Is it good, free publicity?  Or is it very damaging? 

Mitchel: A few different ways: direct commissions from private clients, Ad agencies booking jobs, or purchasing existing images, magazine editorials, stock photo sales, fine art private and gallery sales, and books, both printed and virtual. Piracy simply deprives the photographer of revenue which ain’t good. But sometimes as you mention, it may be free PR, however that depends who and where they are posted

3) What can you do, if you see copyright infringement of your photographs?  Has this happened to you?  Has the DMCA "takedown" process worked for you?  Have you ever sent a DMCA and been thwarted by a counter notice?  Have you ever sued anyone? 

Mitchel: You can sue the user, or publish a wide ranging post about its misuse naming the user, you can force it to be removed from the site using DMCA. I’ve never been thwarted by any counter notice. However, sometimes there may an issue of interpretation of an agreement. I have sued a few.

4) What goes into taking great photographs that you could sell for cover art for a novel? Location?  Light quality? number of shots?  Amount of time? Do you pay the model?  Airbrushing? 

Mitchel: All the above plus a clear knowledge and discussion of the intent for the look, location, and subject matter from the author or publisher, depending on who is hiring me. And concept, concept, concept!

Asked to explain, Mitchel obliged.

"Concept, concept, concept” refers the idea of the photo—or what am I trying to say in the picture. There are a lot of ways to get your point across and each of them will present a different visual while doing it, and it gets more complex depending on the project—a portrait is different than headshot, a book is different than a magazine editorial, an ad is different than a label on a can, etc. That is one of the joys of the medium.  

 5) How has piracy affected your models?

 Mitchel: In a similar way, but with more potential impact, depending again on the location of the post, who is doing the posting, and on what is the intent the post is- who is it being used for. Also if it is being used in conjunction with other questionable content. It can be very painful, and infuriating

6)  How long can a cover model's career last?

Mitchel: A wide range here. A few years for some, 30+ years for others, all depending on how they adapt - or are allowed to adapt- to the aging process, and the type of publication or a story that will be told. I have one friend who is now 57 and still modeling. Different clientele, different uses.

7) What should an independent author know about buying a photograph for the cover art of an ebook?   What should she expect to pay?  What rights would she get for the money?  What waivers and releases would she need to obtain (and pay for)? 

Mitchel: This is all up for negotiation each time. The price is based on time limits, the expanse of circulation areas, what else she might want to use it for other than the cover, i.e. advertising, promotion, social enhancement, etc. She would need a release from the photographer that states either the areas, or if the shooter is willing, a buyout which is always the most expensive.

8) Where are good, reputable sites for buying licenses for cover art? 

Mitchel: There are the stock photo companies (they are also generally the cheapest which stinks for us), a number of new online sites that offer photo sales, and private individuals. Since the business is now virtually totally digital, one only has to provide digital files and that has fueled in increase in online sites.. I’m sure there a more, but these are the legitimate ones.

9) What other services might photographers offer (if any) in cover art preparation?

Mitchel: So many options- 

1. conceptual sit-downs to lock in on the purpose and market.
2. location search and securing.
3. Hair & Makeup artists and stylists
4. travel arrangements if need be.
5. studio usage and rental
6. lighting approaches
7. digital application and knowledge 
8. editing !!!!!

And a lot more.

10)   Do you have any advice for any amateur photographer who lives in an especially scenic location for monetizing their photographs?

Mitchel:  Yes, shoot a whole lot of images, perfect your editing skills (photoshop, and more), research research research stock houses and stock sites for both legitimacy, style of images, and price points. And keep on shooting! You never know what you might capture that someone may have a use for.  Of course, this pertains mostly to stock sales. Comission shooting is obviously a much different story. In that case you shoot those pictures to get hired, not to sell directly

As an example of what Mitchel did for me, here is the before shot of the rock climbing model who seemed perfect as 'Rhett, hero of Knight's Fork.

And here is how Mitchel cut the ropes and inserted a sword.


To contact Mitchel Gray

Mitchel Gray


Thanks, Mitchel!

All the best,
Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Why Do You Read a Book?

This question isn't meant in a philosophical or literary-critical sense. Rather, why do readers choose to spend time and often money on a particular book, especially if its author is new to them? Online discussions among writers frequently explore what factors most influence prospective readers to try a novel: Cover, blurb, plot synopsis, reviews, endorsements by favorite and/or famous authors, recommendations by personal or virtual friends? One factor not often mentioned, which I think can also have an influence, is reading author interviews.

My most common motive for picking up a book is admiration for the author's previous work. What about unfamiliar writers, though?

I've been surprised by the number of people who say they're heavily influenced by cover illustrations. The only effect a cover has on me, except sometimes to make me pause and think, "cool cover," is to draw my attention to a book I might not otherwise have noticed. After that, the synopsis and, if available, reviews and customer comments guide my decision. I would never buy a book just because of an attractive cover or decide against it because I didn't like the artwork. (If I did the latter, I would have had to pass up several of Stephen King's later novels, some of which have drab, unappealing covers that convey no information about the content.) So a cover might deter me from even picking up a book by an author I've never read before, but otherwise its effect on a purchase decision, positive or negative, would be minimal. The title has more impact on me in this respect than the artwork; an intriguing title will often inspire me to look more closely. I also like to sample the author's style, by either flipping through physical pages or taking advantage of Amazon's "Look Inside" feature.

Many people doubt the effect of reviews on sales. For me, reviews play a major role in deciding whether to take a chance on an unfamiliar writer. A review doesn't have to be favorable to inspire me to seek out a book. The important thing is that the review be substantive and informative. If the reviewer explains clear, detailed reasons for disliking a book, I may realize that the same elements she dislikes are things I would enjoy. In marketing my own fiction, I've often been disappointed by the apparent total lack of impact from favorable reviews. So maybe it's true that most readers are less influenced by reviews than I am.

In addition to reviews and other materials, LOCUS, which I buy mainly to learn about new and forthcoming books, publishes lengthy interviews. Interviews with authors new to me have sometimes inspired me to read their novels. For example, a recent mention of an author's retelling of BEOWULF sounded intriguing, but when I looked it up on Amazon, the description of a contemporary suburban setting didn't attract me. Yet after reading the author's discussion of that novel and its background in her LOCUS interview, I changed my mind and ordered the book. Online interviews from various sources have also occasionally incited me to search for and possibly buy books I wouldn't otherwise have known about.

Of course, recommendations from other fans who share my tastes play a major role in my reading decisions. That's a marketing factor authors can't control, aside from writing memorable stories.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Verisimilitude VS Reality Part 5 - So What Exactly is Happiness

Verisimilitude VS Reality
Part 5
So What Exactly is Happiness 

Previous entries in this blog series:

Part 1

Part 2 Master Theme Structure, The Camera, Nesting Plots and Stories

Part 3 - The Game, The Stakes, The Template

Part 4 - Story Arcs and the Fiction Delivery System

In Part 4, we looked at the Story Arc and the Fiction Delivery System, where the audience meets the world building showcasing a Character.

Your Character, your MC or POV Character, is unique like all humans, but is living a "story arc" (a life lesson learned, mastered, and put behind them) that is recognizable to the audience.  That's what "verisimilitude" means - like reality, but NOT real.  Verisimilitude is not real, but realistic.

To slice a "novel" out of the MC's life in the built world, the writer has to find the point where the Character meets (and surmounts or succumbs to) a nemesis, a life-lesson, a force that is hell-bent on preventing the MC from succeeding at life.

The writer has to find the one conflict in that Character's life which, once resolved, forms the foundation of all to come.

A resolved conflict is resolved ever-after. A resolved conflict doesn't come back to haunt the character in future novels in the series. Resolving a conflict - internal and external together - puts an END to that conflict.

This is not to say a given Character might not have many other conflicts to resolve in the future, but having succeeding in resolving ONE - the Character knows how to tackle and resolve future conflicts.  A Character learns a coping strategy that works.

So by definition, the "ending" of a story arc is an ending, and what comes after is "ever after."

Plots, however, are sequences of Events, each event caused by the choices made during the previous event.  Plots don't have to end - usually even a death doesn't have to end the cascade of Events precipitated by a character's life.

One thing a study of Astrology makes instantly clear is that your life didn't start when you were born and doesn't end when you die. The stars and planets were going long before you arrived and will continue after you die.

Where you came from, your ancestry, has a lot to do with who you are, and what you do in this life has a lot to do with what happens to others after you die.

As conflicts get resolved, new ones (or if you don't study history, old ones recur) arise.  There is always a plot, always something going and something trying to stop it.

But your Story - your Main Character's Story - is internal and has a beginning and an end -- Story has an "ever after."  That is, a defining Event resolved by a decisive change of heart, is the one, single, discreet period of a Life, a pearl on a string.  There is a before.  There is an after.

So when we craft a "happily ever after" ending, a definitive resolution of a Soul level conflict, it really is an ever-after.

But is it Happily?

What exactly is happiness?

Is Happiness a gift from on high?
Is Happiness a fleeting emotion?
Is Happiness a goal?
Is Happiness a decision?

Answer any of those questions, and you have a Theme that fits neatly inside the envelope theme for the entire Romance Genre and all its sub-genres, such as Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction Romance, Fantasy Romance.

To tell such a story, you need a conflict, and it is ready made in those Themes.  Does one Character's achieving Happily Ever After destroy another Character's chances of any such outcome?

This  is two women after the same man, or two men after the same woman.  It is also a man and a woman vying for the same job, or changing the world in opposite directions.

It is Republican vs Democrat, or Progressive vs. Conservative.

Is happiness "beating" the opposition, "blasting" them with vile epithets, denuding them of their pretensions, assassinating their Character, destroying their reputation, kicking butt?

Does winning produce happiness?

The concept "win" can't really exist without the concept "lose."  Winning produces a loser.  It doesn't resolve a conflict; it perpetuates the conflict.

"Survive to fight another day," is happiness?  Some people in the midst of doing that might say so.  It certainly beats the alternative.  But it won't produce a "happily ever after," only a "happily for now."  And the ending isn't an end.

All ends are new beginnings, like a month or year's cycle.  We live in circles.  Well, spirals.

So it is reasonable to hold the position that the HEA is impossible - because there are no endings which aren't also beginnings.

Thus for those who see no chance for a stable life-arc, no chance for Happiness that continues smoothly, there is no way to craft a beginning of a Happy Life-Arc.

So perhaps a new definition of Happiness is what the Romance Genre can add to the world, and improve things.

To write such a novel that could become a Streaming movie, you need the contrasting story of a character doomed to misery, and perhaps blaming his condition on the happiness of others.

What would be the "fate" or "karma" of such a Character? Would he be a saboteur bent on destroying the HEA of the couple you are writing about?

Is he driven by envy or revenge, needing to destroy others to make himself happy (only to find it doesn't work? Only to find it does work? - whichever you choose, that is your theme.)

What such an Enemy discovers after "winning" is the show-don't-tell moment of your Theme.  The ultimate outcome for the entranced young Couple also illustrates without explanation, your thematic answer to those four questions about what Happiness is.

Is happiness a limited commodity which people must fight each other for?  Is that what life is all about?

What life is all about is a theme.

If life is about mortal combat to snatch happiness from others (who don't deserve it) so you can have your fair share, then it's small wonder some people think the HEA is ridiculous fantasy.  There will always be some who don't have happiness and are driven to steal it from you.

So whether Happiness is a commodity you can acquire, is a theme.

In everyday Reality, a lot of people make operational decisions on the basis of the view that happiness is a limited commodity to be acquired by winning it away from others, denuding them of the ability to contest the matter further.

So there are a lot of novels about Kick Ass characters who obliterate their opposition and, at the end of the book, think what they are feeling is happiness.

Is it?  Is triumph=happiness?

Is destruction necessary for happiness?

In everyday Reality, a lot of people make operational decisions on the basis of the view that happiness is not a commodity that can be acquired, but rather an energizing of the spirit producing a frisson of delight that cumulatively builds to happiness.

Resolving conflicts is a process of revealing truth, not a process of destroying enemies.

That is what the "Love at First Sight" moment is all about - the moment the clouds of incessant misery part and a shaft of ineffable sunlight warms the heart.

And Sunlight is a good analogy to explain what "happiness" is.  It makes your eyes tear.  It strikes the heart.

One theme about what Happiness really is could use the analogy of sunlight to explain that we are always happy - the sun is always shining in the daytime, but sometimes clouds dim the light.  At night, the bulk of the Earth dims the light, leaving only the reflection off the Moon.  But any astronaut coming down from orbit will insist the Sun is always shining.

Happiness is like that - always there, always shining, but sometimes something gets in the way.

We are "Happy Ever After" once that truth is revealed to us -- we really are always happy, but we are also other things that get in the way.

The truly happy know how to weather the dark-gray-stormy days of bereavement, derailment of expectations, losses of possessions, and just plain sadness and hopelessness.

These phases of existence are to be felt deeply, savored, admired, and stored up for future memories.

The dark days will be of great value once the clouds part and sunlight shafts down to illuminate the path to the next phase of life.

THEME: Happiness is being able to find the beauty in truth.

Happiness is an ability, often hard acquired.

We say we "get an education" but in truth, we "become educated."  Education is not a thing you can get (or get by taking it away from someone).  The school of hard knocks is always open for business, but they are hard knocks designed specifically to focus your attention on learning a truth.

THEME: Happiness is the result of graduating from the school of hard knocks.

That's one take on the twisty-windy path to the HEA.

There are many other themes amenable to treatment in Romance or its sub-genres.  Here is a video (less than 20 minutes long) discussing the magical formula for attaining true joy in life from a mystical perspective.

Argue against this video's premise in Characters and Show Don't Tell Themes, and you will produce a blockbuster novel.

Just Google happiness and see how MUCH interest there is in the topic.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, September 27, 2020


Is October a "Go To" month?  

Savvy authors is running a pitchfest in October

If you don't have a work of fiction to "pitch", perhaps you should "Get To It" and write one. National Novel Writing month (NaNoWriMo) is just a month away, and many writers use October to prep.

Writing coach Jerry Jenkins offers advice, inspiration, and challenging insights, such as that fewer than 1 in 1000  unsolicited manuscripts receive a traditional publishing contract.

Agreement between political opponents is a bright spot, like the gleam of a tooth in the shadow of a hooded villain's cowl (a Star Wars simile). Apparently, Trump and Biden perceive the unseen dangers of Tik Tok.

Authors Guild might be the go to place for shining a light on bad actors, not in the Hollywood sense, but in the alarming ways that one strongly opinionated rogue lawyer might very well change copyright laws all by himself, without an act of the legislative body.

Authors Guild  takes on the American Law Institute's "restatement" of copyright, written to increase misunderstanding of copyright law to detriment of authors

Allegedly, this Sith Lord of a lawyer has truly insidious ways of undermining that which he professes to "clarify". To quote the Authors Guild:

"But there are other areas where this bias is not so subtle, such as where a minority view is adopted over a majority view that favors copyright protection, or where a new rule is made up by the reporters and inserted as if it were law, and where the interests of copyright owners are disregarded..."

Also worth going out of your way to read, is an older guest blog by CopyrightAlliance president Keith Kupferschmid

And Mary Rasenberger, CEO of Authors Guild had a stirring post on fighting ebook piracy which boils down to The Trouble With Safe Harbor.... and with the lawyers and judges who interpret what Safe Harbor means

Now for something completely different and disturbing.

Art Law: selfie taker breaks priceless toes (which are not his own).

If you are going to go to a museum or art gallery, do not pose on top of the art work. It's beyond selfish.

All the best,

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Self-Aware Cells?

The September-October issue of SKEPTICAL INQUIRER reviewed a book called THE FIRST MINDS: CATERPILLARS, 'KARYOTES, AND CONSCIOUSNESS, by Arthur S. Reber. Although I haven't read the book, only the long, detailed review essay, it sounds intriguing. Reber addresses the "problem of consciousness"—how did it originate from non-sentient matter? how is this seemingly immaterial phenomenon related to the material body?—from the simplest organisms up. He proposes that even single-celled organisms have agency, subjectivity, and sentience. He maintains that from the beginning of evolution, even the most "primitive" life-form must have been "sensitive to its immediate surroundings and to its own internal states." The review paraphrases his view as asserting that "to understand consciousness we must look first at the single-celled organism rather than. . . the human brain."

But sentience is customarily distinguished from "perception and thought." Does Reber claim that a one-celled life-form is self-aware, our usual meaning of "conscious"? The reviewer asks, "Is Reber really asserting that a unicellular organism has a mind?" Apparently so. Reber also seems to assume that amoebae can feel pain. What about plants? Reber remains agnostic on this question, pointing out that sentience wouldn't bestow any clear evolutionary advantage on a creature that can't move. As time-lapse nature photography demonstrates, though, many plants do move, just too slowly for us to notice in real time. (Some of the "weed" bushes in our yard, I think, do grow almost fast enough to be observed by the naked eye.)

Going even further, he suggests that the individual cells in our bodies are not simply alive but sentient. The reviewer asks, "Do we harbor an entire universe of minds?" Reber would answer in the affirmative, again apparently defining "mind" and "consciousness" very broadly. This concept reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's A WIND IN THE DOOR, in which the characters become infinitestimally small to enter the body of Meg's critically ill little brother, Charles Wallace. They meet a community of farandolae, sub-microscopic creatures dwelling inside the mitochondria within one of Charles Wallace's cells. To a farandola, cells are worlds, and Charles Wallace's body is a galaxy. Much more recently, an ongoing manga series currently in print, CELLS AT WORK, portrays the internal organs and processes of the human body from the viewpoints of blood cells and other cells, each an individual character. Presently, the protagonist red and white cells have been involuntarily moved, by transfusion, from their original body to a new one. They have to cope with new (and worse) working conditions and learn to cooperate with the body's veteran cells. This is a fun, fascinating series, conveying biological facts in an informative and entertaining way, as accurately as possible considering the premise of humanoid, intelligent cells, who seem to survive a lot longer than white and red blood cells actually live.

The reviewer in SKEPTICAL INQUIRER discusses the obvious problem with Reber's hypothesis, that a blood cell or an amoeba is obviously not a human brain, and the emergence of the more complex structures and functions can't be equated with or explained by their simpler predecessors. According to the article, Reber doesn't manage to solve the problem of mind, which has baffled philosophers and scientists for millennia, but the reviewer still recommends his book as "a worthwhile contribution to the literature on consciousness."

The notion of conscious or even sentient cells is intriguing to contemplate but, if accepted with full seriousness, would paralyze our ability to carry on with daily life. Could we kill disease germs or even surgically excise cancers? If a tumor were self-aware, would it consider its right to life preempted by ours? The mind boggles.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Verisimilitude VS Reality - Part 4 - Story Arc and the Fiction Delivery System

Verisimilitude VS Reality
Part 4
Story Arc and the Fiction Delivery System 

Previous parts in the Verisimilitude VS Reality series are:

Part 1

Part 2 Master Theme Structure, The Camera, Nesting Plots and Stories

Part 3 - The Game, The Stakes, The Template

And now Verisimilitude used to create the dynamics of the Story Arc and what that has to do with what I term, The Fiction Delivery System (parallel to the Healthcare Delivery System).

Recently, I was a guest on a podcast by The Roddenberry Star Trek podcasts, titled The Trek Files.

Every episode features a Guest talking about one of the Archived documents in the Trek Files which they post a link to on their Facebook page so you can read, then listen to the Q&A.

You can subscribe on the Apple podcast store by searching for The Trek Files.  See Larry Nemecek's name and you know you're in the right place.

In the three short segments we recorded (audio-only), it was impossible to cover all the connecting links to how the impact of ST:ToS affected the way consumers find and obtain fictional entertainment they want.  Not just science fiction, or Romance, but all fiction and non-fiction distributed retail.

Eventually, ST:ToS eventually changed how "news" is distributed wholesale, as well -- "wholesale" being the News Services, AP, Reuters, etc. which used to be out of reach of the individual consumer, but now publish directly to individuals online.  When news wholesalers hit the individual retail consumer, they had to change the format and content of their reporting.

Same thing happened on various levels in the Fiction Publishing Industry -- and (with advent of Streaming) similar forces are disrupting video-format fiction distribution.

This disruption was one main topic I wanted to touch on during the podcast, but didn't have a chance to get it in.

Because of the change sparked by the original Star Trek and its fan-response, the current streaming TV offerings and self-published e-books, are substantially different from what they probably would have been had Star Trek not connected to Science Fiction fans.

It is difficult to see the connecting links, and we won't be able to reveal the chain of "because line" to this Event Sequence that has propagated through the decades.

Most readers of this will be able to figure it out, once convinced the links are there to find.  Researching the connections is like preparing to write a Regency Romance.

Many of the details would not interest casual listeners to The Trek Files podcast, but readers of this blog might find the view of Reality something they can use to build a Science Fiction Romance world.

As we've been discussing Verisimilitude in various series of posts because it is relevant to crafting a novel that draws readers into a world.

Now we return to Verisimilitude by looking at how our everyday world has changed from the impact of Star Trek in the 1960's.  Fictional worlds change, too.  Replicate that sense of "a changing world" for your Characters and the reader won't need expository lumps of explanation.

Worldbuilding, to have verisimilitude, has to be depicted as an Arc - like Story Arc and Character Arc and Plot Arc, the world behind the Characters you create has to change.

But change in a fictional world has to seem to be an "arc" to the reader.  The reader has to see (without being told) the connections of cause/effect between what the Protagonist does and what goes on because of her actions.

In real life, we rarely have enough information to discern those connections. Life often seems random and meaningless.  It may seem that way to your Protagonist, too, but the reader has to be able to understand what the Protagonist can't (yet), and then watch the Protagonist gain an understanding, even if it is a misunderstanding.

How your fictional world changes, and how that change also changes your Characters -- and how your Characters change their world -- depends on your Theme.

Romance has the master theme of Love Conquers All.  Science Fiction generally has a master theme of Science Conquers All.  Put them together, you've got a winner!

To have Verisimilitude, a novel has to show, not tell, how the World responds to the Characters, and how the Characters respond to their world.

Our world really does interact with us, but mostly we just don't see it.  "She's her own worst enemy," is a widely used theme.  Everyone knows someone like that.  It is especially  noticeable to those who are their own worst enemy.

The Tennis Match paradigm mentioned in Part 3 of this series, indicates how the fictional world integrates the real world's dynamics into the craft techniques.  The reader watches as the ball is volleyed back and forth between two Players or Viewpoint Characters.

"The Ball" represents "the initiative" -- or the action that advances the plot, the decision that alters the direction of events.  In the real world, no one person makes all the decisions. Everyone makes some decisions, even if to implement someone else's decisions. But some decisions change the world in a more obvious fashion once implemented.

You find the BEGINNING of your novel by finding the point in the Protagonist's life where she is making such a decision, or implementing it. The HEA ending happens when the results of implementing that decision (I'll marry you) are fully manifest.  In real life, most of us only get one such decision point to live through - survive it, (possibly a 10 year period), and it is smooth sailing ever after, either "up" or "down" or "level" in life.

Some decisions never get implemented.  The Character making such decisions is NOT the "Main Character" - not the character whose story you are telling.  You can't start Chapter One with that Character.  Such a Character re-acts instead of acting.

In our everyday world, we had one Situation before Star Trek: The Original Series, and another very different world that emerged during the 3-5 years after cancellation.

Pre-ST: nothing any viewer of any TV Series, no matter how erudite, vocal, or geekishly dedicated, could say anything in a letter (on paper) to the production's owners that would influence any decision the owners imposed on the Producer (whom they hired to package the show).  Fan opinion didn't matter.

Post-ST: Fan suggestions to enlarge content, add deeper texture, feature certain Characters, and fix plot-holes influenced the decisions of Producers staking their careers on multi-million dollar projects.

They learned (possibly from my book, Star Trek Lives!)

that being wildly enthusiastic, determined, and opinionated about a piece of fiction didn't imply inherent stupidity.

As a result, not only did Trek films incorporate items found in fanfic, but the commercials aired during ST (and other TV shows, too) became less condescending.

Producers and Traditional Publishing Editors learned to pay attention to what the end-user of their products (viewers, readers, audience) had to say about the product.

I call this change the establishing of a "feedback loop" -- it is the essence of good conversation, of increasing efficiency by successive approximations, of functioning in a chaotic reality.  Feedback, like "road feel" while driving a car, lets decisions target problems before they become problems.

We still have a real world where the business model of TV and even paper publishing requires the end-user to be "the product" not "the customer."

In TV that runs on advertising, it's obvious. In Streaming that runs on fees of subscribers, it isn't quite so obvious because you think you're paying for what you watch.  In fact, others are paying for what you watch, because these video stories are so expensive to make.  Thus what others prefer is what you have to choose from.  The mass-audience is the product -- those willing to chip in.

In book publishing, the publisher's actual customer is the distributor. That was a warehouse and trucking operation which would accept a certain number of copies of some but not all the titles a publisher put out in a month.  Then came book-chain stores which dominated, and developed their own distribution -- direct purchase from publisher.

The publishers started using computers to track sales of given titles, and editors had to guess (stab in the dark) why one title sold and another didn't.

In both TV and books, as well as in theater released movies, there was no direct feedback line from the end-user to the original commercializing producer to indicate WHY viewers or readers like this or that item.

Star Trek changed that because Gene Roddenberry took the Star Trek pilot to the Worldcon in Chicago and dropped it into the dry-tinder of Science Fiction fandom.  Typically, cons were not attended by "the general public" (as later Trek cons were).  Everyone there knew everyone else, if not directly then by a friend of a friend.  It was a tight-knit community.  Among them were connections to thousands and thousands of equally erudite, skilled, enthusiastic fans who couldn't make it that year.

Fans knew how to communicate and organize, but never before had anything much to say about a TV Series.

Before it's first air date, Star Trek was eagerly anticipated by many thousands, assiduously sharpening their critical faculties ready to tear the thing apart.  Turned out, being a TV show, it wasn't hard to rip the science to shreds, but it was FUN.

Star Trek was the first real science fiction on TV.  

Paramount, the owner-producer of the show, thought the letters (on paper) they were getting were the usual "fan" letters, from people who couldn't tell fiction from reality and didn't understand actors aren't the characters they play.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth, but it took years for the massive, experienced, production company nestled among yes-men of Hollywood to figure out that THESE people weren't the sort lost in a fantasy world, but rather science students, managers, professionals or professionals-to-be.  THESE people were out to make the world shown on STAR TREK into a reality.

And they did.

Students at two Universities connected two of the giant computers used in those days (with less computing power than your phone has today) to play a Star Trek game they invented.

In Europe, the idea of connecting universities and their libraries caught fire, and a way to access all that information became necessary.  Thus "the browser" was invented to read all the disparate sorts of code in use and present words you could read.

A kid dropped out of college and founded Microsoft.

There were many other such companies and computers designed around different architecture.  Microsoft and computers designed for Windows (descended from Microsoft's OS, which became Presentation Manager, which became Windows), plus Apple are all that's significantly left standing.

Unix, the university system, and its descendent Linux, now dominated by Red-hot Linux, are on the giant computer side.

A new architect, (client-server) has taken over and produced "The Cloud" while commercial applications of all this are erupting in every direction.

They wanted to play a game based on a TV show (one too few people watched).  Why should Hollywood or Manhattan Publishing giants listen to fans?

They learned.  They now listen - don't always do wise things, but they notice.

There is the beginning of the feedback loop necessary to get a society to function as a civilization.

That loop took shape decades before Star Trek -- in Science Fiction Fandom where all the writers were just fans who happened to write, and would sell to magazines and book publishers - then paperback mass market publishers.

One whole publishing house, DAW, was founded by Donald Wollheim to publish ONLY science fiction.  It still exists as an imprint under the leadership of his daughter.

Star Trek blew the lid on Science Fiction -- popularized it -- leading many into professional science fields who might not have been interested without that rocket fuel for the imagination.

We had N.A.S.A. and now we have SpaceX making orbital shuttles a commercial venture.  And there are others, and they have vision -- colonies in space, on the Moon, on Mars.  Self driving cars are the precursor to self-driving space ships.

All because of some people who were believed to be the sort who can't tell the difference between Fantasy and Reality.

Doesn't that describe the opinion some hold about Romance fans?

Give your novel's world an Arc like our real world's Arc and inspire your readers to make it so.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, September 20, 2020

On Dit

"On Dit", or "on-dit":  readers of Regency romances will be familiar with the term, from the French, loosely meaning "they say...."  We might think of it as a non-legally protected disclaimer preceding some salacious gossip.  

"Allegedly" is always safer.

On dit that a one does not have a first amendment right to express one's thoughtful views about a book on the Amazon  platform. 

The ever-interesting Angela Hoy has the scoop on WritersWeekly.

One wonders, is that compatible with Safe Harbor and the DMCA?

Regarding copyright, someone somewhere is asking about copyright and photographs of current political figures. 

One assumes that, since copyright belongs to the photographer, (or sometimes to Getty Images), one should seek out the photographer for a license.  It is always possible that a photograph may be been released through Creative Commons, but one should not trust the internet because some sites accidentally or deliberately (on dit) crop inconvenient and unsightly copyright wording from an image.

See here:,171750

Or read the full version by D L Cade  here:

For more fascinationg insights, on dit that copyright in photos is not such monkey business when it comes to the orang utan (literally "orange man").

"On" in this case being Dr. Julie Nixon

Lexology link:

Morton Fraser Link.

Talking of "Orange Man", on dit that Survivorman Les Stroud is going after Bigfoot (who looks a lot like Chewbacca).

Happily, there are plenty of amusing comments from Survivorman's fans to entertain one until one is able to skip the political ads and get to the good stuff.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry