Thursday, May 29, 2014

Romantic Rhine

Last weekend, my husband and I got home from a week-long cruise down the Rhine from Basel (Switzerland) to Amsterdam. I had mild apprehensions about motion sickness, but the river was so smooth and the vessel so large that we couldn’t even tell when we were moving without looking out a window. The cabin, food, and service were excellent. I would happily take another trip like this if we could.

Some sights we experienced:

The Mouse Tower of Bingen, a toll collection structure on an island in the river, where, according to legend, hordes of mice devoured Bishop Hatto in retaliation for his cruelty to the starving poor.

The Lorelei rock, which sits above the deepest, most narrow section of the Rhine. As we passed it, the riverboat’s PA system played a German song about Lorelei, the maiden who lures sailors onto the rocks. The nearest bend in the river is called the Cat’s Elbow, so the adjacent castle is nicknamed Cat’s Castle. The next one over is called the Mouse Castle, since their two lords were rivals.

Many “robber baron” castles can be seen from the river. They got that name by demanding tolls from passing ships and sometimes stretched chains across the water to force crafts to stop. The typical Rhine castle was built in the Middle Ages and destroyed by French monarch Louis XIV in 1689. The ruins of many such castles have been restored as historical monuments, museums, or hotels. We toured several castles and ate dinner in one.

We found the sheer age of so many buildings in this region mind-boggling. We grew up in a state where our alma mater, the College of William and Mary, founded in the late seventeenth century, counts as “old.” In Europe it would hardly rate a second glance in terms of antiquity.

Alsace, a prime wine-producing area, has shifted back and forth between France and Germany several times during its history, as our guides described on the bus excursions. We enjoyed a couple of wine tastings. One of them took place at a winery that sells its entire output in and around the town where it’s made. So no matter how much we liked those wines, we couldn’t get them back home!

During our cruise we passed a tiny village, comprising only a few houses, where the church and the tavern are attached to each other, with the church accessible only by walking through the tavern. The mayor also serves as both tavern-keeper and minister.

In Amsterdam we took a canal boat tour. Houseboats, once a cheap alternative to very expensive real estate, have become so fashionable that they’re now fabulously expensive, too. Bicycles dominate the streets there. In the Netherlands, bikes far outnumber cars, and in fact Amsterdam has more bikes than people. Our guide warned us to take care when walking in or near bike lanes, because the cyclists stop for nothing.

From our canal boat we glimpsed the Anne Frank house but had no opportunity to visit it. The guide mentioned that the queue to enter looked rather short—only about an hour’s wait. And this was on a weekday morning.

A museum tour exposed us to works of Renaissance Dutch artists such as Rembrandt, including his masterpiece “The Night Watch.” Modern-day cleaning of that painting has revealed that it doesn’t portray a night scene after all—it was just dark from age! Since I’ve never studied art history, everything the guide told us was new to me, and I wish we could have stayed longer.

We had the opportunity to hear two lectures with slides on the ship, one on German composers associated with the river and the other on World War I. One night a performance of instrumental music was presented, and at the conclusion of the cruise the staff put on a variety show with funny skits and songs.

I found it interesting that every city we visited had numerous signs in English as well as the local languages. Moreover, because Europeans regularly learn multiple languages, everyone seemed to speak at least a little English. Our monolingual American culture is an oddity in that respect.

We also saw many examples of what we might call cultural or economic imperialism, Starbucks and McDonald’s everywhere. Author Anne Tyler’s “Accidental Tourist,” who wrote travel books for people who hate to leave home, would have been quite comfortable in the major cities of Germany. And the stereotype of order and tidiness contains truth: Germany and Holland impressed me as the Land of Clean Restrooms.

This was my first trip to Germany. My husband had visited before, but in different regions of the country (way back when it was two countries). Both of us had German ancestors in the nineteenth century. We’d love to return someday for an exploration of the parts we missed.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Acquiring New Techniques Part 2 - The Almighty Paragraph by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Acquiring New Techniques
Part 2
The Almighty Paragraph
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

To find examples of current news Headlines you can rip for your next novel, you may want to follow my magazines on Flipboard:

Part 1 of this series on acquiring new techniques is about how I dared to attempt the writing of a joke using a pun.

Nobody can "teach" you to write.  It's a craft.  You don't learn it, you train in it.  It's an apprenticeship process.  The part of your mind that masters all this is the subconscious.

So any methodology that you've developed over your lifetime that works to train yourself in a new process will work just fine for most writing craft skills.

And this one - the structure of the paragraph - is no exception. 

Teaching yourself to write and self-edit, to rewrite and improve each draft is not a random undertaking.

There is a system to teaching yourself, and to training yourself.  Your system may differ, but the essential elements will be the same. 

Once you've figured out exactly what market you want to sell into, here's a system for studying that market and getting the hang of producing your own, personalized and quirky, stories to be gobbled up by that market.

I wrote the following in response to a question that someone asked on Google+ --

Are there any good tools that could help me edit? My paragraphs feel choppy...
---end quote-------

And here's what I answered.

For the rule of thumb you need, find some books from the publishing company you are aiming at, in the genre you are writing in, and preferably edited by the editor you want to sell to (sometimes an author includes a thank you to their editor or agent which gives you this clue).  FIND TWO OF THOSE BOOKS.  Read them BACKWARDS (so you aren't influenced by story or content).  LOG (on a piece of paper or some people love spreadsheets) the length of paragraphs in lines, in words, and in sentences.

Analyze those paragraphs for structure.  Look at subordinate clauses, at dialogue included, at the shift within a sentence from description, narrative, dialogue, exposition (in Kindle you can highlight with different colors each of these 4 essential components).

Now that you have the PATTERN you need to master in your head, sit down with a book you REALLY LOVE and can't stop re-reading (hopefully from the genre and editor you want to sell to) and COPY-TYPE THE ENTIRE NOVEL.  (It's not stealing.  You just discard the copy you make.)

This will train your mind on a level no amount of mere thinking can ever reach.  It is training, not learning.  Turn your mind off and just let your fingers TYPE.  Don't worry about this ruining your 'style' or 'voice' -- it actually sharpens and focuses your personal art.

Now go back to your manuscript and RETYPE IT FROM SCRATCH -- copy type it making a new copy, but letting your new rhythm make changes in the words, parts of speech, dialogue, and especially transitions from exposition to narrative to dialogue to description.  Be sure to include all 4 components in each sentence, mostly by deleting words that don't say anything and finding words that convey exactly what you mean.


Given that "the paragraph" is a quirky thing in itself, that differs from genre to genre, there's almost no way to teach it.

If you took Literature in college, you read a lot of books with paragraphs as long as a page.

If you paid attention in High School, you learned that a paragraph is a complete thought, but of course nobody ever defined what that is. 

The world of commercial fiction writing is totally different from Academe.

In publishing, a paragraph and a page is a visual, artistic LAYOUT problem, not a grammatical one.

So your aim is to keep your reader glued to the page using every bit of artistic LAYOUT talent, skill, ability, and Rules that you can grab.

The best way to internalize such rules is just what I said above, learn by analyzing with the mind, then DOING by copying.

Since we focus on this blog on Science Fiction Romance and Fantasy Romance, Paranormal Romance, and Action Romance, the rules for ROMANCE (longer paragraphs, wandering internal ruminations, speculation about what the other characters think or feel, self-criticism about emotional responses) have to blend into and modify the rules for Science Fiction or Action-Adventure.

And then that resulting blend has to be reconfigured for today's impatient readership that skims or page-flips.  This is the era of lack of concentration, so page layout tricks have to carry the impatient reader through the necessary story development.

Here's a place to start as you rewrite your manuscript.  Remember, you can change what you drafted into this pattern, then go over it again and change it to something else.  It is a multi-step process, not something you just do -- at least until you've practiced this a lot.

Set your page layout for a 60-character line, 25 lines per page.

Break up every paragraph that runs more than 7 lines (even if there's a one-word fragment on line 8, put a paragraph break in the middle.)

Read it over and see what you need to change to make it a literary paragraph (complete thought) rather than a graphic paragraph (something a reader might actually finish before answering the phone.)

Check the page for paragraphs that are more than 3 sentences long.

Any important (critical to understanding the plot) information must go in LINE 1 of a paragraph, or in the last line.


So if you're working up a sneaky mystery plot, a suspense line, or foreshadowing a twist due later, bury that in the middle-sentence of a 3 sentence paragraph.

You want to use graphic layout to control the eye-movements of the reader, just as an artist drawing a picture does.

Now look over the page you've rewritten to break up paragraphs.  No three paragraphs in a row can be three sentences long.

In between the long, 3 sentence, 7-line paragraphs, you intersperse with 1 line dialogue.  (not 7 line dialogue speeches).

Last week in Dialogue Part 7 we did a bit of dialogue rewriting on some excellent published dialogue.  Re-read that and do some of that kind of rewriting.

Now you've got your page looking "right" -- you have to make one last pass through.

Because you broke paragraphs and rearranged, no doubt changing some words, and weren't reading the page as a whole, errors have crept in that you would never have made on first draft.

So re-impose the rule that no two paragraphs in a row can start with the same word, preferably not with the same LETTER.

Delete any "And" or "But" at the beginning of a sentence, especially at the beginning of a paragraph. 

Delete all the adjectives and adverbs.  ALL of them. (don't fret; you get to restore some)

Re-read the page -- this is the polish re-read, so check for spelling, homonyms confused, malapropisms not intended, etc.  Check for rhythm, for clarity of thought, for organization, for pacing. 

On this last re-read, find the VERBS and NOUNS that had modifiers and check to see if they convey what you intended without the modifier.  If not, spend some time looking for the exact VERB or NOUN that should be there.  If such a word does not exist (actually it does, but you haven't found it), then insert the modifier. 

Only use adverbs and adjectives where the word they modify requires it because the word does not mean what you want to say.

That's your PAGE SETUP draft.  Do that process with all your pages.  Don't worry if it takes a long time to do this editing pass -- on your next first-draft you will have acquired most of these habits on an unconscious level.

NEXT - as you are editing, check the LENGTH OF YOUR SCENES.

No scene should be more than 700 words without a character entering or exiting (the "scene" definition is enter, exit, change location).  A scene with entrances and exits within it should run no more than 7 pages (25 line pages as above).

If your scenes are too long, go back to structure and check each scene's structure for how it advances the plot, advances the story, and changes the Situation.

If that gives you a problem, read these two blog entries:

One of the biggest problems I'm seeing in self-published Romance novels these days is SCENE STRUCTURE.

I can't emphasize enough how vital scene structure is in novels. 

Here's the scene structure trick that will affect your paragraph structure.

Long, wandering paragraphs seem to pour out of a writer when nothing is happening in the story or plot.

When you see you have produced long paragraphs, consider deleting that entire section.

The error beginning writers fall into is knowing what the characters do, and just following the characters through everything they do.  That's not a story, and it is not a plot.

The technique you can look up in writing books is not called Scene Structure.  It's called Transitions. 

Smooth transitions are a result of tight scene structure -- they happen because the story springboard is properly wound up.

The index to the series on Story Springboards is here:

In brief, cut all the paragraphs that chronicle the movement of characters between scenes, all the journeying, the traveling.

Cut the part where the character wakes up, brushes teeth, gets dressed, gropes for coffee -- and then the phone rings with a shocker.

CUT from the end of the previous scene (before the falling into bed exhausted) directly to the PHONE RINGING -- or even into the middle of that shocker-phone-call. 

CUT the stuff BETWEEN SCENES.  Every beginner writes thousands of words of what happens or is done between scenes and fails to cut that material before submission, then wonders why they are rejected without even a rejection notice.

LONG PARAGRAPHS of characters moving between scenes are the hallmark of the unprofessional writer who can not take editorial direction.

If your character is TRAVELING (driving, riding the subway, walking through the woods -- when nothing is changing the SITUATION, when the CONFLICT is not advancing toward RESOLUTION --) then CUT ALL THAT.

I can hear you screaming right now, "BUT BUT BUT that's when he thinks of this brilliant idea, or when I tell the reader all about what the character knows."

Aha, that's why I said learn to do this by deleting all your precious adverbs and adjectives.  That deleting and restoring of adjectives and adverbs trains your subconscious to trust your judgement so when you do this harder exercise, your subconscious won't balk.

When you delete the material (usually identifiable as it comes in long, chunky paragraphs) between scenes, there will be some vitally important items that get deleted.

Those items have to be moved INTO SCENES.

In fact, you may have to insert a scene to convey that material properly, but the inserted scene has to be well structured.

Scene structure and placement is like the percussion-section of a symphony orchestra, it sets the BEAT, the pacing.  A scene is like a 'measure' in music, it has an internal structure set by the "Key" or genre.

So delete all the material between scenes throughout the manuscript, collect the items that must be conveyed to the reader, ponder where in the structure those REVEALS have to be placed, and insert a well-crafted scene to convey just the barest hint of the information as SHOW DON'T TELL.

That's what scenes are for - to SHOW rather than TELL that information that you told the reader in the between-scene segments where the characters are traveling from scene to scene but nothing is happening. 

In a scene, SOMETHING has to happen that changes the SITUATION of the main character.  The plot must advance -- i.e. someone has to do something.  The story has to advance - i.e. someone has to learn something, feel an emotion that causes them to do something. 

To figure out what to keep and what to toss, keep going back to your one-line explanation of what this story is.  "This is the story of Ralph's downfall." 

On your final draft, you'll throw out anything that's left that does not explicate the theme.  "Great Fame can crack any character's integrity." 

All of these techniques are based on the redefining of "The Paragraph" from a literary thought-block to a graphic attention-grabber.

Master the Paragraph, and you'll master The Scene, as well as pacing and style.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Digital First Sale Debate in Nashville

On May 21st, 2014, the USPTO convened a roundtable event in Nashville, TN, to discuss statutory damages; the First Sale Doctrine in the digital environment; and the legal framework for the creation of remixes.

It was all very interesting, but I'll blog about one thing at a time.

First, to explain the "First Sale Doctrine". This doctrine recognizes that physical goods, such as paperback books or vinyl discs, are likely to deteriorate in condition each time they are enjoyed, thus becoming less valuable and less perfect. Something that is "used" is inferred to be inferior in quality and less valuable than an "unused" or "new" item.

"First Sale Doctrine" also relies on the concept that the first owner abandons his/her ownership of the physical item if they sell it, give it away, or for the duration of any time that they lend it to someone else.

First Sale Doctrine does not apply to digital content, because digital content cannot be transferred between persons without the creation of a new, unused and perfect copy (which is a right reserved only to the copyright owner); moreover, it is impossible to verify and be certain that the original "user" has indeed abandoned all backup copies that he/she is allowed to make for their own protection.

Advocates of the existing system of "licensing" digital content asseverate that a license is flexible, cost-effective, and allows the consumer many choices and great convenience since they may access the licensed digital content on their choice of devices wherever and whenever they wish.

(Opponents complain that this is not true, because various retailers try to lock their customers into a proprietary ecosystem. My view is that, just because distributors such as Apple or Amazon or Barnes and Noble have their own DRM and their own devices is not a reason to change the law that affects copyright owners.)

Those who argue in favor of applying First Sale Doctrine to digital content argue that Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble etc use the short word "BUY" on their buttons (rather than "LICENSE") so "Buy" should mean "Buy".... ownership.... first sale rights.  My view is that copyright owners do not control the wording used by retailers on their sites, and just because retailers prefer a three letter word to a seven letter word, copyright law should not be changed.

Both sides of the debate were represented on the panel. Both sides felt that their position would result in the cheapest and greatest availability and access to works.

Those who would like individuals to be able to enjoy the copyright-protected ability to create copies and publish and distribute them argued that all ebooks etc would come under downward presssure if there was a "used" market, and "used" e-books competed equally with "new" e-books.

They suggested that readers would be motivated to buy legal ebooks (instead of pirating them) if they "owned" the e-book and had the right to sell or lend or give away e-books they didn't enjoy, or that they had read and did not want to store.

Copyright advocates who ae not in favor of extending First Sale Doctrine to ebooks suggested that legal prices for e-books would have to increase if the copyright owners were selling not only the right to read the e-book, but also the right to make copies and split them up, and sell them in competition with "new" e-books in the open market.

Copyright advocates discussed the unacceptable implications for personal privacy if First Sale applied, and a seller had to demonstrate complete and utter abandonment of all copies. Every computer, flash drive, cloud account, email account, ebook reader and more would have to be examined to prove that a copy had not been retained. The technology does not currently exist, and if it did, consumers would dislike it.

Those who argue in favor of applying First Sale Doctrine to digital content argued that consumers of digital content do not read licensing agreements (and should not be expected to read or understand what they are agreeing, when they click "I agree").

Editorializing.... So, copyright protections should be weakened for hard working creators because a few Ivy League law professors believe that digital content users are stupid and lazy and impulsive?

According to the USPTO  hosts of the event, many e-book authors have written in expressing concerns about their livelihood if any ebook consumer could compete with the creator for sales.

It was well worth watching.
I hope to post about Statutory Penalties soon.

Happy Memorial Day.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Greetings from the Rhineland

We're in Germany, cruising on the Rhine! Castles, ruins, wine tasting, Lorelei rock. Details to follow next week.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dialogue Part 7 - The Gigolo and Lounge Lizard by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Dialogue Part 7
The Gigolo and Lounge Lizard
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Previous entries in this Dialogue series are found here: (which has been updated with more posts).

This entry is not about the SHOWTIME TV Series The Gigolo, but in a way it is in that general direction.

A Gigolo is a paid Escort for a rich woman (which may include sex) who attends formal Events.  A Lounge Lizard is an out of work Gigolo who is looking for a woman to hire him. 

In either situation, the writer is faced with the task of writing the Gigolo's dialogue -- the pick-up line, and the long, smooth stream of lies he utters as part of his job.

A Gigolo is a professional liar.

So see the entry on Liar Dialogue:

...and for a discussion of The Misnomer

This post is a dialogue writing lesson, exercising the writer's ability to come up with "snappy dialogue" and "retorts" and "one-liners" but above all, the specific line a character says to another character that makes the reader understand how the character who believes a lie could be taken in by such a transparent gigolo.

The bald truth is that the writer generally does not nail the gigolo or lounge lizard dialogue on the first try. 

Great dialogue is usually produced on rewrite, maybe the 5th rewrite.  But somewhere in that first-draft blurt-the-story-out attempt at dialogue will be a line, a word, a dynamic moment of CONFLICT that has to be preserved.

Usually the problem embedded in first draft is pacing.

Very often an editor will return a manuscript with a marginal notation that says this dialogue is not PLAUSIBLE -- or I DON'T BELIEVE THIS -- or MAKE ME BELIEVE IT -- or IT'S UNCLEAR WHY THIS CHARACTER BELIEVED THIS.

Editors see a manuscript from one perspective, writers from another, and readers from yet another.

When all 3 see a solid product, it's a 3-dimensional image and none of the 3 views show the whole thing.

And yes, the touchstone that makes great dialogue work is THEME.  I know you're weary of hearing me say that, but it's nevertheless true.  Most of us have to conform our dialogue to the theme in rewrite.

Conforming dialogue to theme not a random process, not a matter of "taste" and not just characterization or description, nor of the writer's "voice" nor of just how you feel at the moment.  There is a systematic structure behind dialogue, and it can be learned.  Some writers have a talent, an "ear" for dialogue.  Others have to learn it. 

Good dialogue is a necessary but not sufficient condition for making a sale.

Dialogue is such a complex skill that showing you have that skill on page 1 or 2 can hook an editor. 

If you demonstrate you have all the skills that are woven together in good dialogue, an editor is more likely to assume you are able to take editorial direction. 

So if your Romance Novel starts with a Lounge Lizard approaching your heroine with a pick-up line, maybe rescuing her from a sticky social situation to demonstrate what an exemplary Escort he is, you have an immediate, conflict-fraught, instance of off the nose dialogue, oblique references subject to misunderstandings in layers.

If the guy is just looking for a paying gig with this richly dressed woman, and ends up falling in love with her -- (after he seduces her into hiring him, or when she flat refuses to hire an Escort) -- you have conflict on all levels.

If you set your story on, say, a Cruise Boat, (where they can't escape each other), you can ratchet up the tension and suspense because there is a fixed time when the cruise will be over.

From there, you have many choices for complications to your plot -- cruise boat mechanical failures, bad navigation leaving them in a terrible storm, hijackers forcing them to port in a terrorist held country, -- you choose the list of complications that arise via the theme you have chosen. 

You can do that plot on a Space Ship -- a cruise ship or say, a military vessel on a mission, or a cargo vessel, or a hospital ship (Research that by reading James White novels), or a Colony (lost or otherwise).  Each setting shapes the plot, and explicates a different theme which then shapes the Relationship between Gigolo and Rich Woman.

But the dialogue technique is the same, regardless of location, regardless of the subject of the discussion, regardless of the character of the characters.

The substance, the content, of the dialogue differs with theme, but the method of creating dialogue out of the speech you hear in your head is pretty much the same.

There are differences depending on what the characters are doing.  If they're breathless in the middle of a sword fight, separated in a loud gun-battle, or suffocating as a space ship loses air, they will speak in shorter bursts, but the trick of creating that dialogue is the same, regardless.

Master this single technique and it will serve you in almost any genre or format.

It's often taught as, "Don't Speechify." 

Don't make your characters speak in long paragraphs flowing from subject to subject, even if the logic behind that line of thought is vital for the reader to grasp.

Don't write SPEECHES -- like a Presidential State Of The Union Address! 

Dialogue is not a newspaper article explaining a whole incident all at once.

Dialogue is not speech, and it's not speeches. 

Dialogue is not an essay.  Dialogue isn't even a letter you'd send to a friend. 

Dialogue is more like texting than it is like school essay writing.

If you read some science fiction written in the 1930's and 1940's when all those writing science fiction were beginning writers, well educated and well versed in explaining science -- but not in portraying relationships -- you will find dialogue that today is called STILTED.

Stilted dialogue makes the characters sound self-conscious - as if they know the reader is listening.

In stagecraft, the technique you must master is called "the fourth wall" -- the wall between the audience and the stage, so the characters are unconscious of the audience.  Yes, Greek Plays use the narrator, the chorus, etc. addressing the audience directly.

This evolution of storytelling from the shaman around the campfire to Showtime streaming video episodes of Gigolo. 

Another indication of that 4th wall effect, of the characters being unaware of the audience watching is the choice of "Person" in which to tell the story.  The 3rd person (he, she, etc) and past tense (he said, she howled) creates that 4th wall and makes it both transparent and firm.  That allows the audience to "identify with" the characters, but there are many skills necessary to make that effect work.

Beginners almost always grab for the much easier First Person (I couldn't believe it when my Date for the Prom turned into a wolf right before my eyes.)

It is so much easier to write First Person -- to BE the character, and reach out and talk directly to the audience (like the Greek Chorus and narrator), to make the drama of immediate and engaging concern to strangers that you now see a flood of novels using this format. 

That's a trend, a style, and it will turn again, so if you intend to launch a career that spans many trends, become facile with all persons and tenses for storytelling.  Master point of view and it will hone your dialogue skills.

Why does point of view (and "person") matter to dialogue?

Because the Identity of the speaker is fleshed out by not only choice of vocabulary, but also by how and whether that character waits for the other character to finish speaking, by what "go-stop" cues the character will accept or respond to.

How patient is this character?

You can TELL NOT SHOW easily by saying to the reader in the narrator's voice, Tom was an impatient man, a type-a personality on the hoof.  Or you can SHOW NOT TELL that same information by how Tom interrupts people who are speechifying at him.

Relationships can be defined in SHOW rather than TELL by the rhythm of the dialogue, by what's left out, by finishing each others' sentences (or not even bothering) -- about how well or poorly the two people communicate with each other, and how the weave a third person into the conversation.

One of the stark changes in society over the last century (no, I'm not that old; I read a lot) is the art of conversation.  Today people communicate but they don't converse much or often.

If you're building a Romance Novel, you want the two principles who will end up with each other to converse even better than they communicate.

The difference between conversing and communicating is the main skill of the Lounge Lizard. 

The Lounge Lizard, the Gigolo looking for work, is a master of conversing freely, arousing emotions in the targeted woman that re so bright, clear, and pleasant that the flare of emotion obliterates the lack of communication.

Conversation is "off the nose" dialogue - the words are not about what the conversation is about.  You don't say what you mean and mean what you say.  In Conversation, you induce in the other person the illusion that they understand who you are.

This is the main skill of the Confidence Man, the grifter, the scam artist.  But it is also what happens when you meet a true love. 

Conversation happens between people "on the same wavelength."  These two Lovers have some element of world-view in common.  That's the one topic they never have to talk about (on the nose) because they resonate to that one underlying truth about the nature of Life.

They can (and usually do) disagree and fight over everything else. 

Their conversation is all about that everything else.

The Lounge Lizard is master of mimicking that resonating effect by dancing around the one issue or subject he perceives is most important to that woman. 

Both men and women treasure that sensation of resonating to another person's world-view.  When a couple finds they resonate on several topics, that their combined world view is a symphony in perfect attunement, there is no way to destroy that relationship.

If that resonance is real, it will hold them together forever.

The Lounge Lizard wants to avoid "real resonance."  But at the same time, he offers the illusion of that resonance to his paying client. 

That's the Gigolo's inner conflict, upon which you can build his external conflict. 

This is the same conflict dynamic as the Spy who lives under cover in the foreign country and pretends to hold their beliefs -- only to find that over time, he becomes loyal to those alien beliefs, betrays his country and is a Traitor. 

There's a principle in classical magic - you become what you pretend to be.  Thus when you don magickal robes to officiate in a ceremony where you must act like your Higher Self, eventually you become that Higher Self in everyday life. 

This principle is so pervasive that those who have not studied magic know it, believe it, and/or accept it when they see it.

You are what you eat; you become what you pretend to be. 

So the writing technique is the same whether you're writing Romance or Mystery (or Science Fiction or SFR etc.)

Here's an example of dialogue from an action-mystery novel well worth studying for dialogue.  We have a set of characters who have become friends, even close friends, and lovers during the course of solving other mysteries.  Dana is the star, and should therefore have the most dialogue. (that's a rule to learn -- face time and lines of dialogue are maximum for THE MAIN CHARACTER - the one whose story you are telling.)

Proportions and pacing are essential components of Show Don't Tell.

Here "She" is Dana, the star of the novel.

---quote from Gray Wolf Mountain, a Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense by Jean Henry Mead ----

She thought again about Rhonda Bailey's connection and he reason both bodies were dumped in the same stream. The killer must live nearby.

“How far are we from the cabin where Gus was found?” she asked Tom.

He turned to survey the area to get his bearings. “About a mile as the crow flies, I’d say.”

“I wonder if the sheriff’s deputies have searched the cabin for clues to the killer’s identity.”

“I’m sure they have.”

Dana thought for a moment. “Why didn’t the killer bury the bodies instead of bringing them here? He obviously wanted them found. A warning to others to stay away?”

“Looks that way,” Jeff said.

“Why is he leaving clues?” Dana said to no one in particular.

“He may consider it a game like hide and seek. Psychopaths are usually intelligent people who consider themselves superior to others. I think he might be taunting the rest of us.”

When nothing else was found, they drove back to the original site, where Jeff showed them the drag marks and probable site where they body had been found.   ...

-----------end quote-----------

While you think about how you might rewrite that exchange here's the author's biography from Amazon.

The author of 20 books, Jean Henry Mead has published ten nonfiction books and ten novels, including the Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series and Hamilton Kids' mysteries. She also writes Wyoming historical novels (Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novell and No Escape, the Sweetwater Tragedy). The national award winnning photojournalist began her writing career as a news reporter in California. Her award-winning articles have been published domestically as well as abroad, and she has served as a news, magazine and small press editor. She also established the Western Writers Hall of Fame now housed at the large and impressive Buffalo Bill Musesum in Cody, Wyoming.

NOTE: Jean Henry Read did a stint as a news reporter. 

Do you understand how this ingredient in a writing career is vital?

Marion Zimmer Bradley did it.  Allan Cole did it.  The list is endless.

Non-fiction is where the money is in wordsmithing. 

So you should read Gray Wolf Mountain with an eye on the dialogue, and what you might change to transform it to another genre, or to create different characters.

Let's study that one little snatch from page 139 of the Kindle edition.

Notice how SHORT the utterances are.  The group is standing around a piece of evidence (at the 60% mark of the novel, just past the half-way point) feeling the threat of physical violence (which is realized) and trying to "profile" the killer from where Rhonda Bailey's body has been found.

They have discovered a cigarette lighter with initials on it somewhat down stream from where the body had been found.  Whose is it?  How did it get there?  Why didn't the police find it?  Etc.

Notice the SHORT sentences, question, answer -- think of a bouncing ball going around a conversational circle.  This is not an interrogation of a suspect, but a brainstorming session over a problem.  The technique applies to any scene where people do group problem solving. 

Notice how intact Mead keeps that 4th wall.  The characters are talking to each other, not aware we're listening.  They aren't giving US information.  There's no, "As you know, Bill, ... etc."  They aren't describing the scenery to each other for our visual delight.

They are intent on problem solving, and aware of impending threat from a crazy guy.

So let's consider what we might do while reading (remember on Kindle you can insert NOTES as you read, and highlight and bookmark text so this kind of study is easy.)

-----------FREEHAND REWRITE ---------------

She reconsidered Rhonda Bailey's connection to all this. 

“How far are we from the cabin where Gus was found?” she asked Tom.

He glanced around at the pine forest.  "You think the killer lived nearby?"

"Well, both bodies were dumped in the same stream." 

He glanced around at landmarks only he recognized. “About a mile as the crow flies, I’d say.”

“Do you think the sheriff’s deputies have searched the cabin for clues to the killer’s identity.”

“I’m sure they have.”

Dana paced, muttering. “Why didn’t the killer bury the bodies instead of hauling them here?"

"Maybe he wanted them found?"  Tom followed kicking at debris, looking for more evidence.

"As a warning to others to stay away?” she guessed. 

“Looks that way,” Jeff inspected the creek.

“Why is he leaving clues?” Dana said to the silent trees.

“Psychopaths are usually intelligent people who consider themselves superior to others. I think he might be taunting the rest of us.”

"You think he may be playing a game like hide and seek?"

Tom nodded slowly.  Jeff watched him a moment, then headed back for the car, saying, "You should see the drag marks where we think the body was moved." 

-------------END FREEHAND REWRITE---------

Notice how much longer that approach makes it than the original.

If you've got a rewrite order that says to reduce the length, those are exactly the changes you'd make to shrink it. 

Also notice how the characters and situation morph under those tiny changes.


Society, civilization, mythology and technology are all components of every world you must build around your characters.

Even when working in contemporary Romance, or near-time science fiction romance, or Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance set in sort-of the current day, you have to "invent" your world from the point of view of your main character.

Even the world seen by your subordinate characters if you use them as Point of View characters has to "match" the world as it is perceived by your Main Character. 

Putting these pieces together into a work of art is an art in itself, like mixing oil paints to smear on a canvass and suggest (using 2 dimensions) a 3-D picture.  The human brain interprets the shadings and textures and creates the imagined 3-D image.  Reading a story in text-only, the imagination creates that extra dimension of emotion, of emotional connection. 

The best place to learn to understand what sexual seduction is all about is the study of Advertising, of PR, of spin-doctoring, of motivational speaking, of selling. 

A victim of seduction believes -- is deeply convinced -- that this is True Love, a Soul Mate.

A real Soul Mate knows what you mean when you tell them how you feel.

Your words resonate and produce behavior that confirms, that validates, your emotional life within the emotional life of the other.  Like music.  One string vibrates, the air transmits the energy, and the other string vibrates without having been touched.  That is resonance.

That's what advertisers mean when they say a "message resonates" with the public.  They mean that people who haven't heard the original message nevertheless repeat that message.

That's how love works when it is REAL.

Mimicking that effect is what the Lounge Lizard or Gigolo does.  His job is to accompany his employer and convince rooms full of people that his employer is not paying him money to be with her, but that she is a prime example of womanhood because she has won his high regard (and just LOOK at him; wow! she must be something!). 

Having arm candy around you paints a picture of you, doctor's your spin, makes a statement about YOU.  It isn't real, and most people in that formal party do know that, but nevertheless the glow of approval of that Arm Candy individual paints the employer in a light different from the actual reality.

So making that emotional contact, and hitting the "note" that resonates is an artform.

After centuries of hit-or-miss, that artform has been codified into a science.  The science is called PR.  It is the art of convincing you to do what you would never do under mere hypnosis -- behave in a self-destructive manner untrue to your own character.

These techniques can be applied to your benefit.  A Gigolo looking for a job may notice you hunting the audience for a suitable man to hire and present himself using what he's noticed (Sherlock Holmes fashion) about you.

They can also be applied to induce you to behave in a way that benefits the Gigolo not you.

From a writer's point of view, the Gigolo or Lounge Lizard role is identical to that of today's politicians.  What you see is not what you get. 

Politicians hire PR people

I've discussed PR and its origins and uses many times.  Self-publishing writers have to master this branch of psychology -- or hire a firm to do it for them just as publishers do.

Here are some links in case you're not familiar with the kind of "arm twisting" tactics developed to "control" the behavior of herds of people.


Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public.[1] Early forms of public influence and communications management have existed since the dawn of ancient civilizations, but the professionalization of the discipline occurred in the early 20th century. Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays helped establish the field as a professional practice in the United States, Basil Clarke and Sir Stephen Tallents pioneered the field in the United Kingdom, while Arthur W. Page is considered the father of corporate PR.

The field became more established after World War II, in part due to talent from war-time propaganda efforts moving into the private sector.
----------END QUOTE--------

For another angle on the explanation of PR:

And note this: is a school for animation artists, especially videogame builders, where you can get a bleeding edge tech degree to work in the Public Relations (advertising) field where image is everything.

Dig down and you'll find this very math-driven field of PR is pretty much the art of the con man, the grifter, the trickster. 

In January 2014, we discussed an example of this kind of psychological judo that can let an advertiser throw you over the shoulder and cart you away.
Statistics have proven such accurate predictors of the behavior of large populations of otherwise dissimilar individuals (people, yes, but this would apply to non-humans as well) that people use those numbers to create their opinions.

And a growing number of young adults are using statistics reports "backwards."

Using statistics forwards means collecting data on individuals and predicting how large numbers of individuals will move together in the same direction.

For example: how many iPads will Apple sell in the next six months?  How many people will upgrade from a Samsung to an iPad (and think it's an UPgrade?).

Those are questions statistics can answer accurately.

Will you upgrade from a Samsung or Kindle to an iPad and think it an UPgrade?

Statistics can't answer that.  It would be using statistics "backwards" to predict your behavior based on the behavior of a majority, or even a significant minority of people "just like you."

But your friend you go to lunch with at work might use released statistics to make a confident assumption about your future behavior.  That lunch conversation can become the core of a novel's conflict by Integrating that THEME (working statistics backwards) into the WORLDBUILDING (contemporary Romance).
---------------END QUOTE--------------

Since we have been conditioned, in school and in news reports of STUDIES, and in doctor's offices where prescriptions are given (or not) based on statistical studies of the effects of the medication rather than on experimental evidence of how this medication affects you, therefore we tend to skip over the inconvenient truth that the "average" response to anything has no relevance to you, personally. 

The systematic, repeated dunning in of the message "statistics show" means "you are average" by PR techniques has thwarted every math teacher's strident insistence that statistics can not be worked backwards. 

One primary PR technique is the appeal to "experts" -- i.e. people who know better than you, and the subliminal message that you better be afraid of authority and do as experts say because they know better than you.  Fortunes have been poured into perfecting statistics because they can be used to bolster that argument.

So besides greed, fear, and insecurity are traits the grifter activates in a Mark.  The Lounge Lizard targeting a client has perfected the appearance of power and authority.

Stop and think a moment about that.  Remember the watchword of all story telling is SHOW DON'T TELL.  Think how you would show rather than tell how your Gigolo character sweeps his Mark off her feet -- then think about what she would do once she figures out what he did to her.  Creative retaliation is a way to SHOW not TELL.

The art of the con man, the grifter, the trickster, uses the traits of your psychology as weapons against you, just as the con man uses greed.

If you have no greed in you, no con man can have any effect on your behavior -- because without greed you have no fear of loss and are not in awe of authority but choose to obey of your own free will. 

In other words, without greed, you can not be forced to do anything because the only ones who have authority over you are ones to whom you have given (thus may rescind) authority. 

Should such an authority induce you to act against your own best interests, you will not do it. 

In fact, even if such an authority claims this action is in your best interests, you will not do it -- because if your mind is not clouded by greed that induces fear-of-loss and makes you tremble before "authority" that threatens to strip you of whatever you treasure, then you will see it is not in your best interests to comply.

Greed within us allows those among us who are greedy for power to attain power over us. 

That's an abstract statement (a TELL not a SHOW) about how the greed mechanism of the human subconscious shapes our civilizations (all of them back to the dawn of time).  To use that principle in drama you must SHOW it, not TELL it. 

So the absence of greed which allows for resistance to authority translates easily into plot where you can best show without telling that the individual has no greed.  That embeds characterization into action. 

By now you've seen the film, LONE SURVIVOR -- a perfect example of characterization embedded in plot where the US Soldiers let the shepherds go instead of killing them to insure the squad's safety.  That scene is why you cry at the end of that movie.  If that characterization had been done with tell -- people talking about these soldiers back in the barracks -- you wouldn't cry at the end.  Pay particular attention to the dialogue in that scene.

Here is an omnibus of a duo-logy I wrote about a Lone Survivor who is not human rescued by a human battleship engaged in an interstellar war. 

Controlling the behavior of others by activating their Greed is a principle that pre-dates modern psychology -- you find it in the Ten Commandments! 

Where it says do not covet your neighbor's ass, wife, property etc -- DO NOT COVET is code for do not be greedy. 

Want what you have and you will have what you want.

Violate that one commandment and every con man in the world will gravitate to you because you have Mark written on your forehead in bright fire.

But both men and women who have not yet found their Soul Mate harbor a greed for that experience of resonating with another Soul.

We are greedy for a whole orchestra of souls, children and family, to resonate with.  We are at rest only when surrounded by those we resonate with.

That is the nature of the human being.  Remember the article I linked in a previous post about how a married man's testosterone level drops as his kids are born -- if he spends his time with wife and children.  It's an effect beyond merely having sex with his wife.  Family tames the aggressive, trouble-making tendencies of excessive testosterone. 

We are all greedy for that experience of rest -- and the mere promise of it (a hot-sexy Gigolo image) will ignite that greed.

But understanding that the promise is an illusion breaks the Gigolo effect and turns the greed to disgust.

How many people know enough math to understand what's being done to them by "commercials" and that a Lounge Lizard is a walking sandwich board commercial!.

The concept "Lounge Lizard" refers to a person who goes where the "action" they are looking for tends to congregate.  The "Lounge" is some kind of high class drinking establishment, and the action sought is rich employers looking for an employee. 

In other words, the person seeking to influence the behavior of someone goes to the place where lots of people open to being influenced congregate. 

For example, an advertiser selling expensive cars wants to advertise on a TV show watched by people who have a lot of money. 

How many people understand the value of words?  Especially the words in advertising copy?

Here is an eye-opening article on the shift in TV advertising for Apple products between 2013 and 2014.  (read this excerpt with an eye to casting it into dialogue as demonstrated above in the rewrite exercise.)

--------QUOTE FROM ARTICLE-------------
 Using the Dead Poets source material is a curious choice. You might think going with third-party copy—the film was written by Tom Schulman, who won a screenwriting Oscar for it—betrays a continuing lack of confidence in the brand's own voice, or at least the current expression of that voice. And maybe it does. But still, it's an inspired passage that fits wonderfully with the Apple brand.

"Medicine, law, business, engineering—these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life," Williams (as Professor Keating) says in the voiceover. "But poetry, beauty, romance, love—these are what we stay alive for." That message is pure Apple, going back to the "Think different" days as well as Justin Long's teasing of the spreadsheet-loving John Hodgman in the "Get a Mac" ads. Apple's business is art (and the business of art), not commerce—though the visual storytelling here cleverly shows the product contributing to both.
-----------END QUOTE---------------

Notice that's from a website called ""  -- adweek is FOR advertisers, and as a self-publishing writer that would include you.

Do you understand the nuances of this article (read the whole thing). 

It reveals the way people trying to trick you think about you.

This article is about selling tech devices, but it is the same process used by a Gigolo or a Politician.  Trace out the reasoning, then trace that reasoning backwards.  The objective never articulated is to get you to part with your MONEY to buy a DEVICE.

Those who follow Apple on the financial market know there is about $400 worth of profit in every iPad Air (#5) fully loaded with memory (cost about $935).  Yeah, in the USA these devices are THAT overpriced. 

How does Apple get away with this? It makes similar profits on iphones and macbooks.

Advertising, that's how.

What's advertising?  PR.  What's PR?  Mathematics.

When you understand what Apple is doing to "get away with it" you will understand what Politicians do to "get away with it" (whatever "it" they've tricked the public into doing lately).  All advertising is trickery -- it's all seduction. 

If you're self-publishing, you have to understand how they do this and decide how you can employ it and still conform to your own sense of ethics.

Look at the tuition to Full Sail University linked above.  That is an expensive education, and only the best and brightest can manage to graduate from such a school. 

Full Sail University is a for-profit university and its graduates work on Oscar Winning pictures.  This school has already produced an army of soldiers taking the field to conquer and control your behavior.  And there are many other schools more specialized in producing high-skilled practitioners of PR. 

Understand this pattern in our real world.  Understand how this pattern developed historically, pivoting especially around WWII. 

Understand that your reader has no clue that this is being done, but she is unconsciously (and happily) dancing to the tune played by PR practitioners (selling everything from hair spray to anti-aging creams, from vitamin supplements to SUVs).

Now, worldbuild the environment of your story, and be sure to include this PR element.

The Gigolo is a PR expert-for-hire, ready to convince everyone at the party that he is your escort, and that you are Somebody because he admires you.  His admiration elevates you.  His job is to make everyone else admire you because of how he admires you.  It's an old artform, and a new mathematics. 

The Gigolo or Lounge Lizard (male or female variety) is the SHOW for this element of human nature that gives rise to PR, while the PR article on Wikipedia is the TELL for the same thing.  BTW "Lot Lizard" is slang for whores who use CB radio to lure truckers to truck stop lots for a cheap quickie. 

If you're building an Alien Romance novel, you have to know (but don't have to let the reader know) what character elements your Alien's Grifter or Gigolo uses to get a handle on a Mark.  What is the Alien's weakness?  Is it Greed and Covetousness?  Or something else? 

Among humans, the use of slang or circumlocutions like "Lot Lizard" is a sure sign that there's repressed Guilt underlying the choices of action, driving motivation.  So give your Aliens some oblique-speak idioms to designate their unsanctioned actions. 

The human strength is how we become immune to PR once we see the mechanism of it working on us. 

What is your Alien's strength? 

Now pit the human and alien lovers-to-be against each other using the Greed trait to create the conflict.  Then do the dialogue exercise demonstrated above using seduction as the subject, not finding a murderer (either one is problem solving).

Maybe your trio in this dialogue is an alien grifter team (as depicted in the TV Series LEVERAGE that I've written about:

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, May 18, 2014

USPTO on Statutory Damages, First Sale Doctrine (digital), and Remixes

Copyright reform is on the government Agenda.

By the way.... authors, have you registered with the Authors' Registry? If not, you may be one of the authors for who the Registry is holding significant funds. Find out more, and download the paperwork to register here:

For more information, email staff@​

This coming week, the United States Patent And Trademark Office will host a "Roundtable" on the topics of Statutory Damages (for individual copyright infringers and for large scale copyright infringers), on the First Sale Doctrine in the digital environment, and on a legal framework for the creation of remixes.

Follow the USPTO on Livestream here:

What I find most remarkable about this process is the dearth of mid-list authors who are taking an interest at the very time when the government is seeking input from individual content creators who cannot afford the very expensive legal pursuit remedies available to major publishers, movie studios, and recording houses.

Also astounding: SFWA, RWA, AG, NWU, do not appear to be participating. Why do you think that is? Do authors' associations not believe that it is important to have a seat at a table that might make recommendations to lawmakers concerning whether or not "used" ebooks may legally be sold, shared, given away by anyone who acquires an original copy legally?

The First Sale Doctrine currently applies to physical goods (paper books, for instance) which deteriorate in physical condition every time they are used (or read). "Used" reflects the depreciation in value and "life expectancy" of the product. Once a "used" item is sold, the seller relinquishes ownership of it entirely, and is physically unable to retain a copy.

In the case of new ebooks, the content is --strictly speaking-- not sold, it is licensed.

What happens if First Sale Doctrine applies to digital content? Amazon has a patent on selling "used" ebooks. Does that mean that Amazon will corner the market? What happens to authors' royalty-based sales if would-be ebook purchasers have a choice between buying new or used ebooks? Both will be of identical quality. Both will be delivered instantly. Both will be available at the same time. "Used" will be cheaper.... and no royalties will be paid to the authors.

How will authors or their takedown services be able to send Takedown notices to pirate sites when there may be no way to know which copies are "used" and which are illegal copies? (See Marilynn Byerly's post yesterday on this blog.)

EBooks are not a product. They are pure content. If the content becomes the property of the purchaser of one copy --to do with as they please, including "sharing", reselling... how is anyone to know whether a copy that appears where the author has not licensed it to be is there lawfully or not?


Rowena Cherry

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Should First Sale Doctrine Apply To Intellectual Property?

Marilynn Byerly has graciously consented to allow me to repost an article she posted on her own "Adventures In Writing" blog in November 2013.

Marilynn's comments are important as the USPTO is about to host a Roundtable on the topic of copyright reform with regard to whether First Sale Doctrine should apply to digital works, and as a group of Berkeley lawyers attempts to start a "grassroots" movement to change (weaken) copyright protections under the law--which I infer is for the benefit of Amazon, Google, libraries, and freetards-- but not for professional authors.

Should eBooks Be Resold Like Used Paper Books?

The Department of Commerce is asking for comments about 
Digital First Sale and the possible changes to copyright law
 that would allow an ebook to be resold.  

Here’s my letter.

The biggest problem with the resale of “used” e-books 
is e-book piracy.  Some think that cheaper books mean less reason to 
pirate books and that’s true to a certain extent, but used e-books also
mean that authors and publishers will no longer be able to prove 
that an online copy has been stolen.

Right now, publishers and authors license their books to specific 
resellers/distributors like Amazon Kindle, BN’s Nook, and Smashwords. 
If a book is available at any other site, the publisher and author know 
instantly that that book is pirated, and they help the authorities take 
these sites down.  

These sites are fairly common, and some look like legitimate 
book-selling sites so the consumer is no wiser that they are buying
 stolen books.  Some of these sites actually sell the books, others 
are scams which steal credit card information and install viruses 
on the victim’s computer.  

If e-books are sold used, the scam sites will be able to fly under 
the legal radar.

Pirate sites will claim that their books are being given away for free 
by legal owners so they can continue their dispersal of illegal copies.  

If e-books are sold used and a site or individual can sell thousands 
of copies  of the same ebook by saying that they are selling one used,
there will be no way  for the author/publisher to prove this.  
This will essentially make book theft a crime that can’t be punished.

Even readers who want to do the right things by buying legally won’t 
be able to tell who is a legitimate reseller and who isn’t.  

Readers looking for bargains will buy illegal books instead of legal 
ones, the profit margin for authors and publishers which is small now 
will plummet to the point that publishing will no longer be profitable
for anyone, and those who make the money will have done nothing
to create books.  

Allowing the sale of used e-books will destroy all value to copyright.

Thank you, Marilynn Byerly.

My best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Smart Houses

The June 2014 issue of CONSUMER REPORTS contains an article titled “Run Your Home from Your Phone.” (Unfortunately, their articles aren’t available free online.) Here are some of the operations that can already be performed remotely by cell phone apps:

Monitor burglar alarms. Notify you if your home electrical generator stops working. Sense body heat patterns and turn equipment on and off depending on whether there are people in the room. (I don’t quite get what this one has to do with remote operation by phone.) Let you know when water is overflowing from a pipe or appliance and shut it off. Remotely lock and unlock doors or “change who’s authorized to enter.” Notify you if the smoke alarm or CO detector is triggered and shut down fuel-burning appliances. Tell you if the power to the refrigerator fails. Start the washing machine or dryer and alert you if the dryer vent is clogged. Preheat the oven, set the timer, and check cooking status. Turn lights on and off, as well as set a vacation schedule for lights and climate controls.

The article cautions that potential hackers might access information such as the locking and unlocking history of the doors or the fact that a smart thermostat is in vacation mode. It also rightly points out that switching on an oven when you aren’t home could present a fire hazard. (More so than starting the oven and then going out for a while, though?) The writers also mention a device that they don’t recommend and I can’t imagine why anybody would bother with—a smart toilet priced at over $5,000. Unless you’re severely disabled, do you really want a commode to open automatically at your approach, play music(!!), flush automatically, and clean itself? Okay, maybe the last feature would be handy. But I don’t even like public restroom facilities with hands-free flushing, which have a creepy habit of activating when one doesn’t want them to. And, says the article, the system can easily be hacked.

I doubt I would embrace any of these functions, even if I had a smart phone (when we last upgraded our account and the rest of the family got smart phones, I insisted on keeping my dumb one) and even if the apps and their associated systems became super cheap. I already shudder at the thought of storing one’s bank account password on a gadget so vulnerable to loss or theft, much less the unlocking code for one’s house. I can see the appeal of the convenience, however.

Maybe today’s children, as adults, will be living in totally computerized homes like the one in Ray Bradbury’s classic story “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Personally, I’d love to see a sapient, talking house like “Sarah” in the TV series EUREKA. “She” was one of my favorite secondary characters. I especially enjoyed the plot thread of her falling in love with the robotic deputy sheriff, Andy.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Index to Marketing Fiction In A Changing World by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Index to Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

It isn't enough to just write a great story, nor even to write a story that precisely fits what publishers want. 

Today's changing world requires writers to do much more than write. 

Some manage this problem by marrying or partnering up with someone with the requisite skills, and some hire an agent.  Some get lucky and connect with the right editor.

Everyone else has to pay attention to Marketing, Markets, Publishing, video, advertising, PR, and branding -- all kinds of things that really compete with creative time. 

Self-publishing is yet another whole set of skills that adds in book design, formatting, layout, cost-effective use of various online outlets, accounting, and a myriad secretarial skills. 

We have not yet covered all these requisites in this blog series, even though I've been touching on this subject since 2009.  Here is what we have so far in this series, with the newest at the top.

My series on Marketing Fiction In A Changing World:

Part 27 -
The Half Hour Drama Is Back
Part 26 - 
Must You Compromise Your Art To Sell Big?

Part 25 - Understanding the Shifting Fiction Market

Part 24- Writing About The Future And For The Future

Part 23 - Mastering The Narrative Line

Part 22 - Making A Profit At Writing In A Capitalist World

Part 21 - Crafting Book Links To Track Via Google  Part

20. Guest Post by Miriam Pia Part 19, Guest Post by Deb Wunder on non-fiction writing Part 18 - Amazon makes some bad marketing decisions Part 17 - Fiction Writing still pays less than minimum wage, considering the hours spent. Make your living at non-fiction. See where the opportunities lurk. Part 16 about which is more science fiction, Star Trek or Star Wars? A question via Part 15 - Guest Post by Kirok of L'Stok and discussion of new series by Jean Johnson Part 14 - posting on September 1, 2015 is Part 13 in this series. is Part 12  is Part 11 in this series.  -- this is Part 10

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Monday, May 12, 2014

Opining On Last Week's News (relating to authors' rights)

The USPTO hosted a six-hour long forum last week with the noble goal of exploring whether DMCA TakeDown notices can be standardized in the interests of greater efficiency and accuracy.  

Videos are available here:  

Presentations were made by The Copyright Alliance, Google, EFF, Deviant Art, MPAA. RIAA, a fan-fic site and others.

Sensible ideas included a wish that the process could be fair, non-intimidating for those seeking to either enforce copyrights or dispute Take-down Notices. Copyright owners asked whether recipients of TakeDown notices could be encouraged to refrain from editorializing or otherwise stigmatizing senders of TakeDown notices.

(One example of this is the sad face that YouTube posts with a note naming the copyright claimant)

Many speakers and audience members asked everyone to consider the proposition that a TakeDown should be permanent, and the same ISP should not allow users to re-upload files that have been taken down. Representatives of smaller hosting sites pointed out that this could be expensive for them. Musicians and movie-makers pointed out that "whack-a-mole" places an unreasonable burden on creators.

Google explained their process which is designed through an online questionnaire to funnel complainants to the correct one of six forms for their DMCA purposes. It is reported (elsewhere) that Google receives a million TakeDown notices every day.

Much laughter ensued when one presenter showed how advertising sites force would-be copyright enforcers to view screen after screen of sexually charged advertisements and incontinence products (and also to solve Capchas) before they are able to reach a TakeDown form.

Aside... presumably the Diaper makers are paying for views and have no idea that they are wasting their advertising budget!

Amazon funny business....   Authors' Guild reports that the New York Times reports that, "In an apparent dispute over sales terms with big five publisher Hachette Book Group, Amazon is slowing delivery of select Hachette titles."

Hachette authors who see particular formats (ebooks haven't been reported as affected) of their own print works affected by long restocking times might like to contact AG.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry