Thursday, June 28, 2018

Superpower Pros and Cons

A new Marvel superhero TV series recently premiered, CLOAK AND DAGGER. Tandy ("dagger") can materialize a knife out of light. Tyrone ("cloak"), associated with shadow and darkness, can teleport. So far, the powers of both protagonists pop up spontaneously, with little or no control. Also, each can read minds, sort of, in a limited sense. With skin contact, Tandy sees visions of people's hopes; Tyrone sees people's fears. My initial thought upon watching the first few episodes (although I do like the series so far) was that these aren't terribly impressive superpowers. Teleportation does have versatile possibilities—once he learns how to control it instead of leaping from place to place at random when confronted with danger. Materializing light daggers, however, seems of limited benefit unless the character gets into a lot of knife fights or aspires to become an assassin. Moreover, her magical knives wouldn't do her much good in combat without training and practice in using them. The latest episode demonstrates, though, that the conjured blade can cut through anything, a potentially versatile feature. She would be even better off if she would develop an ability to create other kinds of objects, too. As for the empathic visions, because they transmit images of people's hopes and fears, they can't be counted on to convey factual information. It's an appealing facet of the story, actually, that discovering their paranormal gifts doesn't automatically and immediately make the heroes invincible.

As I see it, many superpowers that seem cool at first glance wouldn't, by themselves, turn their bearers into superheroes. There was a TV series I never watched (so I may be misjudging it) whose protagonist couldn't feel pain. I got the impression that this trait was presented as a gift. No, it would be a handicap. In real life, people with defective pain perception live in constant danger of getting badly injured. Immortals in the "Highlander" series come back to life within minutes of getting killed unless they're decapitated. Living for centuries has its appeal, and if you work in a dangerous occupation or devote yourself to rescuing victims and protecting the innocent, immunity to most modes of death would confer a definite advantage. The gift has downsides, though. Like vampires, Highlander immortals are frozen at the age they'd reached at the time of their first death, so there are a few children and adolescents stuck with centuries of life in which they never grow up. Immortals aren't necessarily any more intelligent or ethical than ordinary mortals; whether they learn anything over the course of their extended lives depends on their individual characters. And even though they heal fast and can survive horrible injuries, getting killed still hurts. Furthermore, an immortal trapped at the bottom of the ocean or locked in a dungeon with no drinking water will die and revive over and over indefinitely.

Flying would be impressive but wouldn't make a hero invincible by itself. He or she could get to the scene of a crisis in a hurry, especially if the power included being able to fly faster than normal human running speed. But once the flying hero got to the site of the trouble, if he or she didn't have any other paranormal gifts, the success of the ensuing fight or rescue would come down to ordinary human strengths. Super-strength alone would seem pretty useful, once the hero learned to use it efficiently, but if that were his only power, he could be wounded or killed like anybody else. Flying and super-strength together would make a better combination, yet the hero could still get hurt—unless he or she were also invulnerable. Now you're approaching the qualities of a multi-gifted superhuman such as Superman himself. Spider-Man, with his leaping, climbing, and web-spinning, also has the capacity to travel quickly to otherwise inaccessible places; however, his ability to trap villains in webs probably needed to be honed through practice.

What about invisibility? An invisible character can sneak into places, explore without getting caught, and (if so inclined) steal small objects. Unless his or her powers include walking through walls and closed doors, though, the invisible man or woman still needs to access enclosed areas in the normal, physical way. Furthermore, invisibility in the strictest sense has obvious drawbacks. Do your clothes disappear with you? If not, you have to endure the discomforts of nudity. In H. G. Wells's classic novel, anything eaten by the invisible man remains visible until digested, so the time periods during which he can be truly unseen are limited. More effective might be a gift for clouding the minds of observers, like the Shadow; in that case, cameras would still reveal the hero's presence.

The most versatile type of superpower might be a multifaceted psychic talent such as the ability to read and control people's minds (provided you could shield against the thoughts and emotions of others at will). There we get into some deeper ethical problems, though.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Believing in the Happily Ever After Part 9, Why Strive to Fulfill Your Destiny by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Believing in the Happily Ever After
Part 9
Why Strive to Fulfill Your Destiny?
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Index to the Happily Ever After series is:

"Youth is wasted on the young." 

That is one of the oldest (maybe wisest) adages you will hear, and a cautionary tale in one succinct line.  Most Romance novels, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, are about young people.

Romance is, obviously, the dominant feature of life when you are young -- looking for it, wishing for it, wanting it, seeing others attain it, yearning to have your life-path changed by an encounter with a true Soul Mate.

Youth, especially the teen years, is peppered with giant miseries.  Or they seem giant at the time -- rather smaller in retrospect.  Still, such teen-angst is very real,  very potent, and very life-determining. 

How an individual responds to an angst or misery, a situation of being tormented, bullied, oppressed, or outright abused, of being trapped, forced, and desperate, seems to determine where that person's life will go -- the "destiny" of that individual.

Is "destiny" something you choose by choosing your response to your teen-challenges?

Or is destiny something you are born to -- as the Ancient Greeks depicted -- a decree of "the gods" which, if defied will result in something even worse?

In other words, whether a Character views their Situation (miseries and all) as a springboard into a (very real, tangible, and actual) Happily Ever After lifetime, may depend on their religion, creed, culture, or cussedly defiant Nature.

Is "Destiny" -- a Happily Ever After life is one possible Destiny -- something you can attain only by fighting, battling, risking life-or-death, desperately striving for?  Or is "Destiny" something that just happens, and can't be avoided (as the Greeks believed).

What exactly is Destiny? 

If it is something you will reach, and have no choice about, then why strive? 

If it is something you might attain, if you work hard enough for it, then it is a choice.

In either case, Youth is the inflection point -- somewhere between maybe 15 years old and possibly 29, critical choices are made.

For example, choose to go to college when you are 15, then hurl yourself wholly into academics and win a scholarship, devote every waking moment to studying (not going on Dates), and make it through a Ph.D. -- but in what discipline?

Another choice, then, would be a choice of career, or career direction, and once made, these early, (youthful) choices are very hard to set aside.

Many people, in later years, regret mightily their choices in their teens.

Is the choice, made in ignorance, by the teenaged self actually the real Destiny of that Soul?  Or is the actual Destiny chosen in later life -- say 35-45 years of age (the second marriage is the typical Romance novel motif).

This idea is rooted in the concept of Destiny as something that is the consequence of choices made in innocence, ignorance, and Youth.

Suppose in your Paranormal Romance universe, Destiny is set by Birth, written in the genes, or perhaps the Social Status of the Parents?

Once set, once carved into the developing person before the age of 7 years, can it be changed?  Should it?  What is the price of choosing a different Destiny than is expected of you?

Why should you strive to fulfill the expectations of "others" (parents, siblings, teachers, Authority, Society)?  Don't you have anything more important to do? 

The answer to that question -- "why should you" -- is a theme.

We've discussed THEME in almost every post -- it is the origin of the opening scene, the Middle Pivot Point, and the final Climax as well as the last word. 

Theme is this novel's statement about the nature of the reality the Characters must navigate to get to their Happily Ever After situation -- and what makes those Characters Happy is not necessarily obvious to the reader without a very clear ILLUSTRATION of the theme by the writer's use of symbolism.

Theme is energy of Culture - and it resides in the non-verbal part of the mind, or perhaps pre-verbal.  Theme is what you know about the world that you have no idea you ever learned.  But you did.  You learned your Reality before you were able to form words.  That is why few writers begin shaping a story by stating the theme to themselves.

Theme is often something you discover while working through a final polish draft -- and suddenly realizing you need a major rewrite to communicate that Theme to the readers. 

If the readers understand the Theme, the Characters will never seem "one-dimensional" or "cardboard" or "out of character to do that stupid thing." 

The Character's motivations will be excruciatingly clear to most all there readers to can grasp the Theme -- the single-pointed center of the Character's "reality."  The Origin Story of their reality.

So the Origin Story is very important to followers of the exploits of the Superhero.

Two TV Series Superhero properties based on Comics illustrate this point.

ARROW - based on DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, about a scion of a wealthy family Oliver Queen, thought drowned in a shipwreck who survived on an Island learning Martial Arts.

IRON FIST - about a scion of a wealthy family thought killed in a plane crash who survived by being rescued by Monks from "another dimension" (where he learned to control chi and make his fist glow with Power). 

IRON FIST is a Marvel property, done as a Netflix Original,
Marvel's Iron Fist: A Netflix Original
2017 TV-MA 1 Season
Danny Rand resurfaces 15 years after being presumed dead. Now, with the power of the Iron Fist, he seeks to reclaim his past and fulfill his destiny.

Do an in-depth contrast-compare study of the first seasons of these two series.

Both these are typical Superhero Characters -- somehow striving to fulfill a Destiny.   Broken from their "past" (like Superman was sent to Earth in a capsule as a baby). 

They appeal to the youth in us all with the dream of a better life earned by striving.

In the best of these mythical universes, one gets a better life by making the world a better place (fighting crime, evil, whatever invading forces want to ruin good things).

The dream of striving to fulfill a Destiny is mostly a thing of Youth, and with decades of life behind (think Gandalf) most humans realize they never will "make it."

But some (like Gandalf) get another chance before age robs them of abilities.

So to convince your Readers that the Happily Ever After ending is realistic, craft a thematic answer to the question about the nature of reality in your Characters' Universe -- "What exactly is Destiny, where does it come from, does everyone have it, does anyone need it, or even want it, and is Destiny worth striving for because it is Destiny or because it is the HEA condition we all yearn for?"

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) Offers Career Mentoring To Emerging or Isolated SF Writers

Open to non-members of SFWA as well as to members of SFWA is a new mentoring program to help with professional development and community connectedness.

It's not a critique program. It's all about helping with the Career, not with the Content.

Even successful professional novelists might be matched up with a mentor, if they are changing their career focus and the type of writing they do. It's a six-month commitment.

For those who wish to apply to be a mentee (recipient of mentoring), check out this form.

For those who would like to be a mentor, fill out this form.

The deadline for submitting forms is July 31st.  And, yes, one can be both a mentor and a mentee!
Moreover, it bears repeating, one does not have to be a member of SFWA!!

Thanks to Julie Rios and Jessica Cole Jackson for coordinating this new program for SFWA.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Spoiler Tolerance

Last week I reread Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (again) after watching the newest movie based on the novel. Some people might wonder why anybody would read a murder mystery more than once. After all, you already know whodunnit! I enjoy rereading books, even detective novels, for the pleasure of watching the characters work things out when I know where the plot is going. While I wouldn't want to know the criminal's identity the first time I read a mystery, otherwise I don't mind being "spoiled" with details of a story before reading it.

One member of our family is so spoiler-averse he tries to avoid even blurbs if possible. (And, in his defense, sometimes an ineptly written blurb can give away secrets it shouldn't.) I, on the other hand, confess I sometimes peek at the end of a book to reassure myself that a favorite character will survive—or, if that character is doomed, to brace myself for the blow. Before the series finale of the vampire police procedural FOREVER KNIGHT aired, I read advance summaries of the plot, and I was glad I had. I was prepared for the downer ending and actually found it marginally less dire than I'd expected from the description.

There's a pop culture phenomenon TV Tropes labels "It was his sled" (alluding to CITIZEN KANE). That phrase refers to a detail that was originally meant as the revelation of a major secret, but now everybody knows it even without viewing or reading the work itself. What mystery fan, even if he or she hasn't read Agatha Christie's novels, doesn't know the astonishing twists in the identities of the killers in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS or THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD? Upon the first publication of DRACULA, readers who didn't pay attention to reviews would have been surprised when the title character was exposed as a vampire. Relatively few horror fans are aware that in Stevenson's original STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, Hyde's identity was a mystery solved near the end of the story. Now everybody knows what a "Jekyll and Hyde" character means. Ambrose Bierce's "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" depends on a twist ending, but rereading it can still bring pleasure, since the second time around we can appreciate the irony.

Does it "spoil" ROMEO AND JULIET to know in advance that it's a tragedy? Would anyone skip HAMLET or KING LEAR because of the certainty that almost all the major characters will die? Granted, in some circumstances I don't want advance knowledge of a plot. In the latest-aired episode of STEVEN UNIVERSE, for example, I wouldn't want to have been told the shocking revelation beforehand; I would have missed the thrilling rush of, "Wow, this changes everything!" Now that I know, though, I can enjoy re-viewing earlier episodes and noticing the secret clues that were there all along.

On the subject of rereading, C. S. Lewis says that the first time we read a book, we tend to rush through it to satisfy the "narrative lust" of wanting to know how the story turns out. In later readings, we can pause to savor the intricacies of plot, the nuances of characters and relationships, and the writer's style. Rereading books I loved the first time around is one of my favorite activities. How do you feel about rereading, re-watching, and spoilers?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Astrology Just For Writers Part 15 Mercury Retrograde Plot Twist

Astrology Just For Writers
Part 15
Mercury Retrograde Plot Twist
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous entries on Astrology are indexed here:

There is a reason we cover our eyes with our hand when we say the words asserting that the Creator of this world/universe/everything is ONE.

This key idea, One as the Origin, has to be the foundation of how we interpret absolutely everything we see, hear, feel, do, perceive with our flesh -- all we want and all we do about what we want (wanting being the condition of not-having) is configured around One.

But One is an IDEA first and foremost.  Once you grab hold of this idea, everything in your life changes significance and you make different choices.

Neurologists have discovered that our brains re-circuit in response to experience, and "learning" (intellectual activity) changes the way our brains light up neurons.  Learning creates new neural pathways.

But no matter what, we live welded to a physical body, so we weight what our physical eyes see heavier than what our mind thinks.  "Seeing is Believing."

Thus, when relearning twice a day, that all is Created by One, we have to take our eyes out of the brain-circuit, by covering them and closing them, so the Idea registers louder than visual impressions.

Astrology (as the precursor of modern Astronomy and Astrophysics) is based on empirical evidence gathered entirely by sight -- naked eye sight, before telescopes.

Over centuries, from Egypt onwards, using parchment and fast-fading ink, industrious geniuses recorded, correlated and experimented with two databases, one of what they could see in the sky, one of what they could see in people's lives.  Their project was to connect these two databases.

Along with these scientific, empirical observation databases (one of the stars/planets and one of human behavior ) curious humans imagined various correlations between the two.  Mostly nonsense, but over centuries of corrections, the imaginary explanations distilled down to some pretty reliable facts.

Once you get the ONE concept wired into your brain, these factual databases of Astrology become as useful as Astronomy but for a different purpose.

You need more to untangle this complex world.

You need to factor in human Free Will and Creativity -- the decision making process and the choices we make at the end of that process.

So our eyes "see" Mercury go Retrograde.  That's what the naked eye sees - Mercury (a dot in the sky) stops and goes backward.  So what?

Today, we all know the planets do not "go retrograde" -- we all ride our orbits around the Sun (oval, not circular, and not even all in the same plane!), and the Sun zips through the circuit of this Galaxy, which is  moving away from some point at an INCREASING rate.  The universe is expanding at an increasing rate!  That factoid has just been discovered and announced in peer-reviewed literature, but nobody really knows why or how this is happening, and you can not discern it with the naked eye.

This dizzying, rapid, systematic but mysterious movement is one reason that our repetitive tasks (like re-asserting twice a day ONE - JUST ONE AND ONLY ONE) are actually not repetitive.  Each time we wash dishes or drive carpool, it is done in a new place, and affects that new place.  Then we move on.  Like plowing a furrow, you don't stop after making a 1-ft long trench.

The human eye sees, and we live or die on the basis of our decisions made from seeing.  Tiger!  Run!.  Avoid getting in front of that Uber autonomous car.

By repetition of this Idea of One we try to grasp that what we see is not what is really there.  Decisions made by factoring in what is really there work better.

Today, most all of Science is founded on what is "really there" as opposed to what the naked eye sees.  Particle physics to advanced agrochemical applications, we live or die on what we understand but can't see.

So Astronomy and Astrophysics lets us understand some of what we can't see, but does not explain (or even try to explain) the observed and documented connection between what we see in the sky with the naked eye, and the decisions and actions of people, individually and collectively.

Fiction, especially fiction involving emotion and soul-growth, is based on "theme."  All themes are based on some theory about that connection between "the stars and planets" and "human decisions."

It is all "imaginary" -- or Idea based.

The one Massive Idea that human imagination barely sketched by itself is the Idea of the Oneness of The Creator.

Egypt had their Sun God and tried to arrange a religion around just that one -- but it didn't work.  Humans tried in every culture all over the world to figure this thing out.  It is said that the Creator offered the Torah to all the other Nations before coming to Abram - because only Abram accepted the Torah simply because it was the Creator offering, and never mind what would be required of him or what consequence or reward might come of it.

That Idea had to be given, to be inserted into our Reality -- we couldn't imagine it.

So when studying Mercury or any "Planet" appearing to go Retrograde (as observed from Earth), we have to start tracing the connection between that Observed Event and the Observed Human Response by understanding what a human is.  To do that, we must start with One.

I once learned in a course that the Soul enters material reality through the dimension of Time.

That one statement rearranged my entire understanding of what everything is about.  It rang true to me because of decades of study of physics, math, chemistry, Tarot, Astrology, human behavior, etc.

The Soul can't be verified by physical instruments because it has no physical dimensions.  It exists only in Time.

Astrology and Astronomy both portray our existence on Earth as riding on one "hand"  of a giant clock, the Earth.  We live inside a clock - the solar system.

That is all the universe is - a clock.

Time is the key idea.  Lately, speculation about whether the "speed of light" is a constant throughout the Universe is disturbing physicists.  We know about Time Dilation, and we know what Gravity does to stretch space.

We also know (though many don't like this idea) that human lifespan is limited.  We "start" somewhere on the clock and eventually we end somewhere on the clock.  The clock ran before we started, and it continues after we leave.

Time Marches On.

But as we live our little segment of Time, we make and implement choices.

Thousands and millions of choices during a lifetime, big choices we are consciously aware of, and little choices which are components of a larger project, habitual choices.

For example, we are driving to the supermarket, but there's a Yellow light -- choose to stop or choose to go.  Chances are, with the Creator's help, you will get to the supermarket regardless of which little choice you make in that split second.

But the consequences of a yellow-light decision can be life-altering.

Thousands of years of observations correlating Mercury with Small Decisions, short and routine trips, smaller movements of all kinds, show that there is a vague ( very vague) correlation between  the Retrograde and the success of tiny decisions that seem on the surface to be trivial.

One time in your life, you decide to run the Yellow, and BANG, you need a new car and five years of litigation.

Mercury goes Retrograde in different places several times a year - but only once in a 100 year lifespan will it produce a significant Event.

It is well known that trivial annoyances mount during a Retrograde Mercury - the airline loses your luggage for 3 days, your car needs a new tire, the dress you ordered for an Event comes the day after.

Shipping snafus don't register on shipping company computers because it just doesn't affect that many people that way.  Only a few times in an individual's life will such snafus pile up and up and up until you want to scream.

It is not Mercury Retrograde that "causes" snafus.  Rather, it is the accumulation of small decisions made over many years - of habits, and of responses to other forces operating in your life, most notably the way you relate to The Creator, conditioning yourself to see the One behind it all.

A hundred times, you'll make it through the Yellow light.  One time, other planets will line up (Uranus, Mars, Saturn, Neptune) and unexpected, aggressive, irresponsible, or drunken drivers will tangle with you.

How you come out of it is up to your Creator.

We live in a clock with 9 Hands (or more) -- which move within our lifetime.  The "fixed stars" don't move visibly in 100 years, but the planets go round and round never coming back to the configuration when you were born.  Nobody lives to see a Pluto-return.  The planets tick off "aspects" to that birth configuration, indicating what "time" of your "life" is going on right now.

It is just a clock.  It tells you what time it is, not what to do about that or what will "happen" because of it.

For example, at a Mercury Station (short trips) on your Natal Saturn (bones), you may have a dentist appointment.  You may run the Yellow light and get there on time, without running out of gas.  But the Mercury clock doesn't tell you whether you will have a cavity or not.  Brushing your teeth regularly (short, frequent, repetitive actions are Mercury) will have contributed to that, but not determined it.

Your genes, your nutrition as a child, and dozens of other small variables will contribute to healthy teeth - The One determines the outcome.

The outcome of the Dentist discovering a small cavity may be a Big Blessing because it averts some more irksome course of events.

But Mercury and other planets' position does not determine whether the Dentist will be in to be at your appointment, nor how long you might have to wait if he's dealing with an emergency, or how long it will take once he gets to you, or how much the bill will be.

Mercury is just one "hand" of the clock we live inside of. The clock has no content.  It is an empty appointment calendar you have to fill -- or not fill.  The clock has no content, no outcome.  We must live our lives providing that content.

Mercury is about small, repetitive things that don't seem to us to "matter" until they annoy.  So Mercury is also about Practice Making Perfect (Gemini and Virgo).  Repeat a minor action, practice practice practice, and you end up at Carnegie Hall.

So at the Stations of Mercury, when they fall at particular points in the Natal Chart, you will find that what you have Practiced will manifest.

If you've practiced getting your brain circuits to see One behind the visible reality of your life, that will manifest clearly, loudly, emphatically, and precisely one time in your life, and very likely at or near a Station of Mercury.

When a planet "goes retrograde" it also eventually stops and goes "direct" again -- as the Earth moves in its orbit relative to the planet that seems to go backwards.

Both points, the retrograde and direct, can coincide with a clear Event.

It coincides because it's time for that Event to happen.

For example, if you're trying to buy a house, you start by saving a down payment and scoring high in Credit.  As you are saving, things happen (often at a Retrograde station) to make you spend some of what you've saved.  Then you keep pushing and scrimping, and trying, and POP you start to see the savings account grow.  That goes on for a year, then interest rates get reduced.  Then you get a raise so you save more.  Someone gives you money, and you save it.  And it goes on and on, three steps ahead and two back.

That's "life" and everyone knows it.  And that is the pattern of the planets, direct and retrograde, ahead and back.

Mercury retrograde often corresponds to a time when you have to do things OVER --you fill out a form, and the office loses it, so you have to do it over.  You pay with a check, and the bank bounces it by mistake, and you have to make a new one and pay a penalty.  You ship a box, and it comes back addressee unknown, and you see you put the wrong number in the zip code.  Retrogrades are also second chances -- when you mess up, you wait a while, and take another whack at it.

So you're saving up for a house, and interest rates tank, houses go on sale, you bid on one -- and Mercury goes Retrograde and your mortgage paperwork doesn't go through.  You try another bank, and a few weeks later Mercury goes Direct, and the mortgage goes through -- but the house got sold out from under you.  So you quick bid on another house, and actually like its location better, and you get it and hold your breath through the Closing.

These are the plot-twists of the story of your life -- and everyone else's.

Fiction writers can use Mercury Retrograde effects without ever mentioning Astrology or Mercury or any such related concept, just by replicating that on-again-off-again-do-it-over pattern in the plot of the Main Character's life.  Everyone recognizes it as real, so you evoke verisimilitude by using Plot Twists based on the twist of what we see planets doing (as opposed to what is really happening.)

Note the intervals between Direct and Retrograde on all the planets, and how many years each takes to complete an Orbit of the Sun.  That is the benchmark fiction writers use (because everyone knows it whether they know Astrology or not) to "pace" the spiritual and emotional maturity of a Character.

If you try to convince a reader that an Event caused a Character to change behavior at a pace different from the master clock we live inside of, the reader won't believe it.  You will seem to be writing a Comic not a novel - the Characters will seem cardboard.  It takes Time for a Soul to change their grip on their body.  TIME is the key.

Life has a rhythm, dramatic Events have a place, framed by life events.  Lives have a shape, pace, and direction.  Read a lot of biographies to pick that up.

You can depict Wise Characters by revealing how they see that pattern in pacing of Events as all to the Good - as a pattern gifted us by the Creator with a message, with information embedded in it.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dangerous Embedfellows And... Death Of The Meme?

Imagine you happen to be in the right place at the right time, and you snap the perfect photographic scoop of a famous person doing something newsworthy.

In your excitement, you share your photo with a few friends on Snapchat. You forget that, while once upon a time, Snapchat was a place where you could show a photo to chosen friends for a few seconds, and then the photo would vanish, now those friends can capture and keep those tantalizing shots.

Then, it dawns on you that you could probably sell or license that photo to a newspaper.

Too late. One of your erstwhile friends snags the sneak peek, and uploads it (thus infringing your copyright) to Twitter. Twitter does not warn your sneaky friend that he (or she) must have written permission from the copyright owner before they can legally upload a picture. Now, by virtue of Twitter's TOS, that thieving friend has given Twitter a limited license (albeit perhaps a license that friend had no right to give) to further publish and distribute that photo.

Then, a news network (perhaps even the last one on this planet to which you would willingly give free content, or perhaps your first choice for a juicy sale) embeds that valuable picture to illustrate a story, and they publish it. Now, your chance of selling that photo is gone forever.

Breitbart believes that, because they merely "embedded" a Twitter thingy, and didn't host your .jpg on their servers, they are free and clear of liability. Maybe not.

The inspiring predicament is discussed in real life detail by Jack A. Wheat blogging for the law firm McBrayer McGinnis Leslie & Kirkland PLLC in Court In Copyright Case: Don't Embed That Tweet!

Apparently, the court decision in favor of the photographer is being appealed. Eventually, it may go to SCOTUS.

For our UK readers, the law is similar. If you did not take the photograph, beware sharing it. UK legal bloggers Jill Bainbridge and Nicola Rochon for Blake Morgan write a really helpful article titled Sharing photos online - the risks of Copyright Infringement.

Just because a social media platform makes it possible, nay easy, for you to upload someone else's stuff to their site does not mean that you should do so, or that you are legally on safe ground if you do so. It would not be hard for Facebook, Twitter, Google, Ebay, et alia to develop a pop-up before you physically could proceed to upload a photo: "Did you take this photo yourself?" Yes/No  "Do you have written permission from the person who took the photo?" Yes/No.

There ought to be similar pop-ups on other user-generated-content reliant sites. "Did you write this e-book?" For instance. "Did you write all 100,000 ebooks on this DVD?"

Saquib Shah, writing for the Sun, warns UK readers (and the rest of the world) that Memes may be in mortal peril.

The problem with memes is that they rely on often-copyrighted images or movie clips that are appropriated by busy internet users, "transformed" (not very much) by users who add text or other edits to communicate amusing social or political commentary.

Can people no longer communicate without disrespecting other creators' copyrights? Would it be respectful to that fine actor, DeNiro, to take his recent stage pose with fists at shoulder level and edit in a MAGA banner between his raised hands? Do actors who roll their eyes in one context necessarily welcome their eye roll being used as commentary on any topic?

Here is a link to the proposed EU law.

It is perhaps a sad state of affairs if those who object to the proposals really believe that people cannot freely and clearly (and wittily) put their thoughts and opinions and knowledge into writing.... or emojis.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, June 14, 2018

On Creating Something from Nothing

Kameron Hurley's new LOCUS essay, "On Patience, Goal-Setting, and Gardening," meditates on the analogies between pushing to finish and edit a book and transmuting three "dead city lots" into a garden. Both kinds of creative activities, she says, are "about transforming a vision in my mind into something tangible that others can see":

On Patience

The essay focuses on the tension between two concepts, the power of imagination and the hard fact that imagination alone can't produce anything without patience, perseverance, and a lot of often frustrating work. And this time-consuming work "costs you other opportunities." She's reminding us that we have to really want our goal strongly enough to exercise the "patience" mentioned in her title. To avoid getting overwhelmed by the scope of the work lying ahead, we should focus on accomplishing the project "a piece at a time."

I'm reminded of the familiar saying about the nature of genius—10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration.

Two of the best lines:

"It’s the ability to envision something that doesn’t exist, that, perhaps, makes us believe in the act of creation."

"I’m creating something from nothing but thought."

No wonder Dorothy Sayers in her book on the Trinity, THE MIND OF THE MAKER, chose the analogy of creative artists (especially writers) to structure her exploration of that theological concept.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Believing in Happily Ever After Part 8, The Writer's Optimistic Voice

Believing in Happily Ever After
Part 8
The Writer's Optimistic Voice
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Index to the Happily Ever After series is:

Doomsayers, and "end of the world" or "end of the world as we know it" people rely on stirring up fears of an uncertain future.  This awakens and energizes an intrinsic (and healthy) part of human nature.  It grabs human attention because this is the paramount survival mechanism -- fear-fight-flight.

So doomsaying has become the most lucrative business model in human history -- maybe.  Maybe in pre-history, too.  I do know many fortunes have been made (and lost) on doom crying .  Doom is big business.

Doomsaying may be the inciting incident in a Romance, or a Science Fiction novel, or a Science Fiction Romance.  It works wonders to get a story started.

But if the doom happens at the end of the book, the book will be a vast disappointment to the Romance reader.

Some version of the doom may happen -- and in fact, should materialize because it takes "show don't tell" to communicate convincingly to readers.

But that is the pivotal MIDDLE of the story -- and the last half shows how people of determination, faith, good cheer, and above all optimism, overcome, avoid or stop the doom from affecting them and their loved ones.

The most important element in convincing readers that the Happily Ever After ending can and routinely does happen in Real Life is the writer's sense of optimism.

To convince yourself that doomsayers are scam-artists exploiting an element of human nature, trying to part folks from their money or resources, look at some recorded details of what actually happened after Doomsayers paid Publicists to spread the word.

Some of the Doomsayers are actually convinced, have credentials to support their opinion, and really -- really -- see the doom coming.  They are not just sincere, but have the best interests of their audience at heart.

What the audience needs to learn from reading Romance novels is that Experts don't know everything.  Humans can extrapolate trends that can be measured, but do not necessarily take into account human free will, and other elements of science that are unknown at their time.

Here is one example -- there are many!


The Population Bomb Has Been Defused
The Earth and humanity will survive as fertility rates fall almost everywhere.
By Noah Smith
March 16, 2018, 4:00 AM MST

In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb,” warning that unchecked population growth would lead to mass starvation in the 1970s. He was just as wrong as Malthus. Global population did surge, but food production managed to keep up.


Still, as overall world fertility has fallen, overpopulation concerns have shifted from global to regional. If some regions continue to have big families forever, they will eventually outgrow the regions with limited population growth, causing the overall world fertility rate to go back up. People who worry about overpopulation are now concerned that some cultures will simply always have more kids.

So far, those concerns seem to be unfounded. A decade ago, many believed that Muslim culture, with its emphasis on traditional gender roles, would defy the fertility transition. But then fertility rates in majority-Muslim countries plunged. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Indonesia have mostly completed their fertility transitions, while Egypt’s and Pakistan’s are underway:

Of course, it’s worth noting that lower fertility won't immediately defuse the population bomb. The number of people in a country continues to rise for years after young people stop having lots of kids -- a phenomenon known as population momentum. Thus, the United Nations continues to project that global population will rise from about 7.6 billion today to more than 11 billion by the end of the century:

-------END QUOTE------

Other doom cries include the Debt Bomb, and things such as asteroid strikes because Nasa's CURRENT plan isn't big enough to deflect a strike due after 2100.

Straight line extrapolation of any trend always ends up predicting something that does not actually materialize.

Why don't these dooms materialize?  It's simple.  Love Conquers All.

Love catapults the most pessimistic type of person into a frame of mind to accept the possibility of success.  By shifting "mood" the human being can cause success.

Failure does happen - in life and in Romance novels.  Romance novels often start with a person at the bottom of total failure -- and they "get rescued" by some outside force or person.  Why is this popular?  Because it is real.  It does happen.

And it does happen on the largest, grandest scale - the scale that redirects human history.

Science Fiction Romance is about applying the principles of science and the study of our reality to the problems faced by our Spirits searching for a Soul Mate and an HEA.

Happiness doesn't mean having no challenges.  Happiness doesn't mean always winning.  Happiness is achieved by each individual in their very own, unique, way.

Take your Characters through Experiences that allow them to define and achieve their own specific "happiness" criteria -- not a situation your readers want, but a situation the Characters need for fulfillment.

The initial key element in shifting the mindset of your Characters is the dawning realization that doomsayers are scam artists, grifters, exploiting the raw animal impulses built into the primate body.

Once they understand they are being victimized, they will stand up for themselves and avert the doom, or turn it back on the doomsayer.  But that will be convincing to your readers only if your own personal attitude (your Voice) is founded on this understanding of the nature of Doom.  Use Poetic Justice.

That Doom averting process is the main plot element in my novel, Zelerod's Doom. 
This attitude shift from pessimism to optimism is the core theme of Zelerod's Doom.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Sufferin' Ink Slingers

"It's The Author Who Suffers" reports Porter Anderson on Mary Rasenberger's remarks at Book Expo about copyright issues and authors being last and least to be paid.

Book Expo was about book authors, but other authors, such as songwriters are also suffering.

Part of the problems are driven by technology, and ever increasing exceptions for "fair use" and "modernization" of copyright and music, and "access", and more, driven by legislators who are funded allegedly by technology.

Such as the sometime Shyllz trombonist, who appears to be no friend to ink slingers and singers, as discussed by the trichordist advocates for creators.

By contrast,  Senator John Cornyn opines, "I do believe that the intellectual property that you create is just that. It's property, and you ought to be protected..."

Terrence Hart appears to wonder if Congress bends over so far to please the populists (who would rather not pay the actual creators anything) that is amounts to unconstitutional "taking" from some to give to others.

The Copyright Alliance supports the MMA, but Chris Castle of Music Tech Policy  has some questions about the business plan, and who will get stuck with the massive bill.

Do you remember how a certain tech titan described "snippets" of a permissionlessly scanned book to a judge as being approximately three lines of text? With this much available of the only 9 pages of required reading by this author for a University course, it's not astonishing that author incomes are down. One would have to be insane (or insanely honest) to pay $31.72 to read 15 pages when 12 are free, and only 3 are redacted..

Perhaps the lack of reviews is telling. Perhaps only those who purchase books write reviews.

On the brighter side....

The Copyright Alliance is offering Gold Membership subscriptions to creators of all stripes who wish to either fund more copyright activity, or to learn more about their rights. It's $30 per year, but for Authors Guild members, there is a $10 discount.  There's a discount for members of other industry groups, too.

The Authors Guild is opening regional chapters. For members. After their recent strong advocacy for authors under trademark attack, and now, their assistance with authors who have a bone to pick with Amazon, it might be even more worth joining the Authors Guild.

To find out if there is to be a regional chapter in your area:

Finally, and only for graduates, Bill Gates is giving away a book. Factfulness by Hans Rosling.

The ebook costs $14.99 if purchased, and it looks pretty interesting.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Common Assumptions

In his essay "On the Reading of Old Books" (written as the introduction to a 1943 translation of St. Athanasius's book on the Incarnation), C. S. Lewis explains why he thinks it vital for modern people to read old books:

"All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united—united with each other and against earlier and later ages—by a great mass of common assumptions. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century—the blindness about which posterity will ask, 'But how could they have thought that?'—lies where we have never suspected it, and concerns something about which there is untroubled agreement between Hitler and President Roosevelt or between Mr. H. G. Wells and Karl Barth."

Therefore, says Lewis, we need the literature of past ages to awaken us to the truth that the "common assumptions" of one era aren't necessarily those of another, and ours might actually be wrong. Speaking of the "contemporary outlook" of Lewis's own period, through much of the twentieth century experts in psychology and sociology held the shared assumption that no inborn "human nature" existed, that the human mind and personality were almost infinitely malleable—the theory of the "blank slate." We meet versions of that belief in works as different as Lewis's THE ABOLITION OF MAN (where he views the prospect with alarm), Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD, Orwell's 1984, Skinner's WALDEN TWO, and Heinlein's first novel (published posthumously), FOR US, THE LIVING. Later research in psychology, neurology, etc. has decisively overturned that theoretical construct, as explored in great detail in Steven Pinker's THE BLANK SLATE.

Whatever our positions on the political spectrum, in the contemporary world we embrace certain common assumptions that may not have been shared by people of earlier periods. We now believe everybody should receive a free basic education, a fairly new concept even in our own country. In contrast to our culture's acceptance of casual racism a mere sixty years ago, now racial prejudice is unequivocally condemned. Whatever their exact views, all citizens except members of lunatic fringe groups deny being racists. Outward respect for individual rights has become practically worldwide. Dictatorships call themselves republics and claim to grant their citizens fundamental human rights. In our country, all sides claim they want to protect the environment and conserve energy; disputes revolve around exactly how to go about reaching those goals. Everybody in the civilized world supposedly respects and values human life, even if in some regions and subcultures there's little evidence of this value being practiced. One universally accepted principle in the modern, industrialized world is that children and especially babies are so precious that we should go to any lengths to protect them and extend their lives. For instance, expending huge amounts of energy and money to keep a premature baby alive is considered not only meritorious but often obligatory. The only differences on this topic among various factions of our society involve how much effort is reasonable and where the cutoff line should be drawn (e.g., how developed a preemie should be to receive this degree of medical attention, at what stage and for what reasons abortion should be allowed, etc.). Yet in many pre-industrial societies, it was obligatory to allow a very premature newborn or one with severe birth defects to die; expending resources on an infant who would almost certainly die anyway would be condemned as detrimental to the welfare of the family and tribe. The development of advanced medical technology has probably played a vital part in changing attitudes like this to the opposite belief we hold in contemporary society.

It's likely that alien cultures we encounter will have different universal assumptions from our own. In Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, Mike (the human "Martian") reports that on Mars competition between individuals occurs in childhood instead of adulthood. Infants, rather than being cherished, are cast out to survive as best they can, then re-admitted to the community after they've proven their fitness. To creatures who've evolved as units in a hive mind, the value we place on individual rights would make no sense. A member of a solitary species wouldn't understand the concept of loyalty to a group. Where might the "characteristic blindness" of our time and place in history be lurking?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Theme Element Giving And Receiving Part 2 Science of Science Fiction by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Theme Element Giving And Receiving
Part 2
Science of Science Fiction
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Part 1 is here:

Scroll down through Part 1 (which doe not have a "part" label) and you will find a list of previous posts discussing Giving and Receiving -- which is the subject of the Science Article published in 2018 that we will study in this post. 

We shall have to discuss "Strong Characters" in greater depth in future posts, but the source of Character strength in story, especially Romance, is Theme so we will analyze this science article in terms of science fictional themes it can be used to generate, giving your Romance Couple-to-be an obstacle to conflict with and conquer. 

The obstacles you can generate from this science article are genuinely "ripped from the headlines."  People are grappling with these problems, groping in a fog, trying to chart a life-path for themselves in spite of living in a world in turmoil.  Propose a useful analysis and they will memorize your byline and Tweet about your novel.

Where a Character stands on an issue (a theme) makes that Character a memorable individual whose name readers remember, and even make symbolic (like the strong and memorable Character,  MacGyver).

MacGyver refused to carry or use guns, so when he needed a weapon, he created one out of whatever innocuous bits and pieces were in reach.  This clearly demonstrates:

THEME: tools do not cause behavior.  Anything can be a weapon. 

The Strong Character's stance on a specific Headline Issue generates the Conflict for your story.  Your story opens when the Character takes up his stance on that issue to fling him/herself against some opposing Force or Obstacle, in order to achieve a Goal.

The Duke's Daughter fleeing an Arranged Marriage is one cliche that illustrates how a Strong Character can be depicted "taking a stance."

The segment of a Character's life that is "His Story" is the segment where the Character leaps (willingly or willfully) toward the bottom rung of the karmic ladder dangling from the Divine Helicopter come to the rescue. 

It is that vision of "this is what I must do in this life" -- this is what I will achieve that is worth my life -- that sends a Character into "his story" in do-or-die mode.  That is this individual's reason for living.  All else is commentary or gravy, or just noise (Red Herring) to distract.

Note how all of this is about Character, about people (human or not-so-much).  It can be about an AI - an artificial intelligence, a robot.  You could have a strong Character who is not biological.

The opposing Character also has a goal.  The nature of that Goal is what gives the reader a clue about whether the opposition is a Villain or just a different sort of Hero who can be won over.

But it is not just the nature of the Goal that defines a Villain.  Generally speaking, we view those who "want to rule the world" as Villains.  It is the methods the Characters are willing to use that distinguishes Hero from Villain.  Generally speaking "the end justifies the means" defines the Villain.

Thus MacGyver is viewed as a Hero because he finds other means to thwart his opposition rather than guns and killing.  He hurls himself into danger, takes insane chances, depends on his physical strength and agility - but never neglects to protect and rescue. 

So is MacGyver a Republican or a Democrat?  Is MacGyver a Conservative or a Liberal?

When the TV Series first came on the air in 1985 (keeping in mind "development" would have been 1980-1984)
the definitions of "Conservative" and "Liberal" were totally different than they are in 2018.

In fact, the two-party system in the USA causes the parties to redefine themselves continuously after each election.  So the definition of "Republican" and "Democrat" changes, as do those who "register" with one or the other party.  Most people probably don't bother to change registration as they change their minds and the Party changes definition. 

Few vote in Primaries which is all Registration matters for, so bottom line for a Science Fiction Romance Writer (even writing contemporaries) is that there is no definition of Conservative or Liberal -- you have to make up your own.

That means you have to know more about the philosophy behind "Conservative" and "Liberal" than your readers do. 

The stances on issues reverse rapidly between Conservatives and Liberals. 

As noted in previous posts, humans tend to subjugate themselves to a Group in order to "fit in."  This process is painful and what makes High School sheer hell for most. 

Culture-clashes are the meat and potatoes of science fiction -- the very definition of "Alien From Outer Space" is "From A Non-Human-Culture."  If the alien's culture complements the human's, it can work out peacefully.

But most humans, of any culture, are not so accepting.  What exactly does it take for a Strong Character to set aside preconceptions and explore the Alien?  Here are a few posts nibbling at the edges of that topic.

Currently, a number of scientific studies of human brains vs political leaning are trying to show a scientific basis for the right-ness or wrong-ness of certain views of what government is, what it is for, what it must not be used for, and why humans keep inventing government.

The "we have to get organized" chant that erupts whenever a random group of humans comes together to pursue a common goal (we must get Federal funds to fix this bridge -- we must attract a company to build a hospital in our town -- we must elect this fellow to get better funding to Community Colleges.  Whatever the community goal, "we" have to get organized.

Throughout human history, it has been shown that the better organized groups "win" or prevail in some way.  A single human really can't do much until or unless he/she attracts a following that "gets organized" to support him/her.

In other words, humans choose "leaders" and the followers get organized.

Labor Unions are a good example.  Mobs yelling and throwing bricks didn't do much good until they got organized.  Now they can hold huge companies hostage during a strike because the individuals all move together.

So science has been studying the difference between Good and Evil using "liberal" and "conservative" as proxies, trying to peg the brain configuration that defines the difference.

There have been a lot of studies on brain development which I've mentioned in passing, showing how experiences rewire the brain, how learning develops different brain regions, how sensory deprivation shrivels other brain regions, and how traumatic experiences change the brain and even genetic expression.

Human beings are among the weakest animals on this planet - no shell, no pelt, poor hearing, so-so eyesight, not very fast runners, very tasty eating.  Many have concluded that our main survival trait is our brains.

The idea is that the ability to think, to theorize, to make and use tools and language, to create records and teach the young, is our survival trait. 

At the moment, our tools and technology seem to be killing us (pollution, global warming, species extinctions among our food supply, over-hunting/fishing). 

So maybe our brains are not our biggest survival advantage.

Perhaps it is our adaptability that will get us through this?

The blows hammering our children from the environment reshape the children so that the resulting adult thinks differently.

Cyberbullying, tackled in...

...will, no doubt, produce a generation more adapted to the larger social structures forming online -- utterly alien to Middle Ages Villagers.

But as Science Fiction Romance writers, we are futurologists.  It's not enough to look back and find trends rooted in the 1980's like MacGyver (now revived).

We have to look deeply at the present and project what trends will become visible to the public 30 to 50 years from now.

One big trend is the movement to substitute Science for Religion.  Since it is "Settled Science" that humans caused Global Warming, anyone who doesn't believe that human activity is causing human extinction is a) stupid, b) evil, c) The Enemy of Civilization -- or d) worse.

If you think Global Warming is caused by human activity, you are excluded from the group.  If your conclusion is the result of thinking from facts, you might change your mind.  Those desperately dedicated to stopping Global Warming and saving humanity from itself can not risk that.

You must believe because Science says so -- just as Galileo was required to believe because someone said the Bible said so (which it didn't, and he knew it.)

Believing means taking someone else's word as truth, replacing what you think with what they believe.  Humans urgently desire this kind of agreement with their Group -- survival depends on being integrated into a Group (e.g.
getting organized).

Suppose that is the trait your Aliens do not share with humans.  What kind of Strength of Character will your Main Character (MC) need to Love across a gap like that? 

To discoverer where to find such traits in human nature, examine this research on the human Brain and political leanings.

Scientists have discovered the key psychological differences that can make you liberal or conservative by 
Hilary Brueck  Feb. 26, 2018, 10:50 AM

... Being scared can make you more conservative.
Being scared can make you more conservative.
Decades of research has shown that people get more conservative when they feel threatened and afraid

....A conservative brain is more active in different areas than a liberal one.
Brain scans show that people who self-identify as conservative have larger and more active right amygdalas, an area of the brain that's associated with expressing and processing fear. This aligns with the idea that feeling afraid makes people lean more to the right.

...On the other hand, feeling safe and endowed with strength might make you lean a little more liberal than you otherwise would.
Groundbreaking research that Yale psychologists published in 2017 revealed that helping people imagine they're completely safe from harm can make them (temporarily) hold more liberal views.

...Liberals are less squeamish about looking at yucky stuff like vomit, feces, and blood.

A 2018 study of college students showed that those with more socially conservative views were quicker to physically look away from disgusting images — like pictures of blood, feces, or vomit — than their liberal peers.

...Conservatives tend to display more ordered thinking patterns, whereas liberals have more "aha" moments.

A 2016 study at Northwestern University found that when conservative and liberal college students were given word problems to solve, both groups managed to arrive at some correct answers through gradual, analytical analysis. But when feeling stuck on a problem, liberals were much more likely to draw upon a sudden burst of insight — an 'aha' moment, like a lightbulb turning on in the brain.

...Liberals tend to follow the wandering gaze of others more often, while conservative eyes stay more focused on the original subject they're looking at.

In 2010, researchers at the University of Nebraska tested whether conservatives and liberals physically see the world in different ways. They found that when it comes to matching the gaze of other people, the two groups differ.

...Holding conservative views seems to make people more resistant to change and help them explain inequality.

A 2003 review of decades of research on conservative people suggested that their social views can help satisfy "psychological needs" to make sense of the world and manage uncertainty and fear.

...Liberal and conservative tastes in music and art are different, too.

Studies from the 1980s showed that conservatives preferred more simple paintings, familiar music, and unambiguous texts and poems, while liberals enjoy more cubist and abstract art.

...Liberals are more likely to describe themselves as compassionate and optimistic, while conservatives are more likely to say they're people of honor and religion.

A 1980 study of high school students found conservative students at that time were more likely to describe themselves as "responsible," "organized," "successful," and "ambitious," while liberal students might describe themselves as "loving," "tender," or "mellow."

...Conservatives believe they have more self-control.

One 2015 study found that conservative students were often better at focusing their attention on a cognitive task called the Stroop color and word test. The common psychological study tool asks participants to quickly name the correct color of a word that's written on a different color background.

...Liberals and conservatives extend feelings of compassion to different people.

New research shows that conservatives tend to express compassion to smaller social circles than liberals.

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

I just cropped some headlines from that article.  If you can find it, read it all, or just read up on the studies cited, and more recent follow-up studies.

All these studies suffer from the same flaws - A) assuming that statistics works both ways (if a Group has a Characteristic, all members of that Group have that Characteristic), B) Recruiting College Students to study, who are typically young and still being "formed" by "life" then applying results to 60-somethings.

But those flaws can be used, in fact leveraged, by Fiction Writers to great advantage.

A novel needs a target audience, and audiences are defined most easily by studies such as these listed in the quotes above.

College age students are most likely to be the readers for Science Fiction and for Romance, and Science Fiction Romance.  They love Fatansy, Paranormal Romance and all the mixed genres.  It was college dorm TV's that were turned to Star Trek on first run -- thus missed by the Nielsen rating service.  Studying college students tells you more about what will happen 20 years from now than about what is happening now.

If you are writing Science Fiction Romance that will be a "Classic" -- you should aim at what current college age people want to read.

So consider how the definitions of Conservative and Liberal have morphed over decades.  Then consider how both Republican and Democrat Parties have both Liberal and Conservative members, and how they agree or disagree on different issues.

A given Character can be Liberal on Gun Control and Conservative on Federal Reserve Policy -- and not see a contradiction.

Is there a contradiction?  Can you find a pair of issues which do contradict?

Where would your sexy-hunk Alien From Outer Space stand on Video Game Violence causes children to grow up violent?

A number of studies have shown that kids are more prone to solve social problems with force after playing a Video Game that uses force as the solution, not the problem.

That is solid, settled science -- but is it true?  Maybe it's true of humans but not your Aliens? 

Maybe it is true of 21st Century American kids but not of 21st Century human kids raised on an Alien Planet among Aliens (or in the far future or a parallel Earth?) 

We have science measuring the effect of violent video games on children -- but not a lot of research on anti-violent video games played by children.  Are there any? 

Now consider how "threatened" the kids growing up in the war-hammered Middle East (Syria and so on) -- the terrorist threatened European cities flooded with migrants -- will Syria and Europe (the bastion of modern Liberalism) suddenly turn Conservative 20 years from now?

Or will the threat be over and all those people who grew up under danger and threat suddenly turn Liberal because they feel safe at last?

These issues reflect the Theme Element of Giving and Receiving. 

People "feel safe" when they are "given protection." 

One goal of parenting is to give your children a good childhood, free of the life-or-death concerns of adulthood, 

So feeling "safe" is defined as the psychological condition of childhood - of being "innocent" and not knowing how dangerous the world is, or how easy one mistake can destroy your life.

People "feel powerful" when they are "giving protection."

One of the sexiest bits of dialogue in Romance is, "I will protect you."  We write a lot about rescuing.  We love the scene where the big, strong, muscled Hunk places himself between the slender, near-naked Princess and takes the bullet for her.

Our culture regards being protected as the female goal in life, while doing the protecting is the male goal.

That cultural assumption is under attack, and is morphing before our eyes, faster than 40-something parents can adjust (adapt, changing their brains).

The most important element in Romance is RISK.  We write about "bearing the Soul" in the lead-up to the "I love you" scene.  Saying it first is the biggest risk most people take in a lifetime.

We write about the muscled Hunk who vanquishes amazingly horrible threats but can't take the risk of saying, "I love you." 

Which is the stronger Character, the one who says it first, or the one who says it second? 

Who is the Hero - the one who feels safe and thus freely gives compassion at no risk, or the one who feels threatened and thus freely gives safety at great risk? 

Which brain is the lover, and which brain is the beloved?

We talked about how people consider Political affiliation as a deal-breaker element on Dating Sites in this post:

The THEME element of giving and receiving, and how it functions (male to female) in a Relationship is vitally important to the HEA ending of your Romance, but it comes into even greater importance when the Couple is raising children.
Children, we hold in our culture, must be "protected" -- and they must "feel safe" (i.e. have their brains configured for Liberalism).  Thus we explode at each other over issues related to School Shootings, School Safety and even "what" may be taught in the curriculum.  (can a High School host ROTC? Riflery Team?) 

Who has Power -- someone must because we can't have civilization without someone holding Power to force others to behave properly.  Left to themselves, humans just won't behave properly. 

Ponder that quote from the article saying that "Conservatives" (defined by those with a more active amygdala ) believe they have more self-control.  It does not say, but seems to follow that Conservatives expect OTHERS to have more self-control.

Conservatives may discipline their children to develop self-discipline and thus admire and strive for self-control.

If you read Romance novels from pre-MacGyver 1970's and then read on by year, you will likely find the preponderance of Romance novels shifting to the "irresistible" model of human nature.

Lust, sex, and the intense attraction to the Soul Mate is "irresistible" -- and the excuse for having inappropriate sex is "I could not resist." 

We can't resist the urges of the flesh.  The body has power over us.  If it feels good, do it. 

These are themes rooted in the philosophical context of the "Self" that has "Control" being the animal body.

"Irresistible" is a word that depicts the entire philosophy behind the World the writer has built.  Sex, lust, CAN NOT BE resisted.  The "self" that has all the power is the animal flesh.  If there is a Soul, it is powerless.

If, on the other hand, the author uses the wording, "I could not resist" - there is the admission of guilt, of not having developed a Strong Character.

And here we come to the definition of Strong Character in the fictional sense.

What is Character -- not the fictional representation of a person, but in real life, the attribute of a complete human called Character?

Here is an idea to ponder until it becomes a THEME in your mind.

Character is the Relationship between body/flesh and soul/identity.

A Strong Character is a Soul that has made a strong ally of the Body -- so the Soul feels safe and the Body feels safe.  Neither needs to bully or be armed against the other -- Inner Peace reigns.

A Weak Character is a Body that dominates and bullies the Soul, seizing any opportunity for instant gratification of bodily lusts (for food, sex, money, power). 

Delayed gratification is the sign of a Body/Soul on the path to being a Strong Character.

A truly Strong Character, completely matured, has no inner conflict.

Remember, External Conflict is a reflection of Inner Conflict in the Character who will "Arc" (or morph or change or grow or learn) during the story.

The truly Strong Character has no internal conflict, and thus is way past where his/her story happens do him/her.

So Main Characters who are "Strong" are not strong in every trait.  They have lessons to learn, chiefly the lesson "I love you." 

But perhaps, in Science Fiction Romance, the biggest and hardest lesson to learn is never to believe in science.  Science is about thinking, so new evidence can change your thinking.  There can be no believing in Science.  In Romance, the biggest and hardest lesson is to Believe in the Beloved -- through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, never waver in belief in that beloved Soul's innate spirit. 

Can "belief" span the political gap?  Can Love conquer Politics?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Only The Loneliest....

... know how to erase their digital footprints.

The anonymous people at Final Prepper have some fine advice on disappearing, deceiving (which might really mess up those who like to target their advertising!) and hiding behind free extensions.

For those wondering whether or not they can exploit someone else's works, for instance (my instance and harking back to the Final Prepper advice), if Facebook suggests to them that an author is 113 years old, and an EBay seller falsely tells them that a collection of ebooks by living authors is "public domained", they might enjoy "Copyright Term: When Does A Work Enter The Public Domain?" by  legal blogger J. Dustin Howell for Workman Nydegger who explains the stages by which copyright in the USA came to be "life of the author + 70 years" and how creators no longer have to register and re-register in order to protect their intellectual property from prematurely entering the public domain.

For anyone who missed the ruling in the case of the infamous poultry-related TRO attempt:

Also, for an excellent example of how IP lawyers argue and back up their case, this is a "thing of beauty":
Of topical interest, Joy R. Butler  of the Law Office of Joy R. Butler explains "When Another Company Duplicates Your Tagline".

One wonders how many authors have taglines but have never registered a trademark on them! Something to consider, for authors is that one seldom puts taglines on cover art... however, one might use it on websites and blogs, as well as in signature files, on bookmarks and letterheads.
Finally, The Copyright Alliance is calling on all creators to speak up (to their Congress persons) in support of HR 3945 the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act.

Twitter topic tags for those who like to tweet are #MyCASE4Copyright  and #MySkillsPayBills.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry