Sunday, September 30, 2018

Data At Risk

Even the intellectual property law blogs are talking about cyber security!  Authors ought to be especially careful, because authors tend to have to publish and distribute a lot of information about themselves as part of marketing and promotion.

Authors have websites, social media pages, newsletters, domains, trademarks, memberships in a lot of reader-friendly sites, and if they advertise--on Facebook, for instance-- there may be financial information held by the site.

In the Facebook situation, there is particular vulnerability for persons who like to write one news item and have that one piece of prose automatically distributed to several other sites. That's "cross posting", and although it is a great time saver, it means that a breach in one place might lead to a breach in all the other places.  Moreover, if one stays logged into Facebook, and uses the Facebook login to login to all the other sites (ie same user name/email address and same password) there is great convenience.... and great potential for contamination.

Tech Crunch explains such issues very well.

Personally, this author is very suspicious of the idea that one can log into ones Facebook account by clicking on ones' own photograph.  What bright spark thought of that?  If you haven't disabled the ability to do that, disable it.

That use of one's photo might work for readers, friends and family, but most authors have their photos in the back matter of their books. So beware.

Last year when there was the credit rating agency breach, a person had to pay $10 to each rating agency to put on a credit freeze.  Now, credit freezes are free.

For details, look here:

Another possible vulnerability for authors is their newsletter mailing lists, if any anonymous website visitor can sign up to be on the mailing list, and go unnoticed. Perhaps they hope that an automated mailing error will occur, and the subscriber address list will be revealed.

The FBI warns that student data is at risk. Legal blogger Craig A. Newman writing for the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb and Tyler LLP explains.

The warning is about data held by high schools, but could apply to colleges and universities also.  As Craig A Newman writes:
In one attack, student contact information, education plans, homework, medical records and counseling reports were compromised by hackers and used “to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and public release of their information.”
Cyber crime also affects sports data, apparently. Patterson Belknap Webb and Tyler LLP discuss the value of all the medical data collected by sports teams (from the sensors worn in the athletes clothing and other wearable technology) to those who would like to improve their chances in online sports betting.

One would think that it ought to be a violation of an athelete's privacy for punters (in the betting sense) to be able to place their bets based on how much he is perspiring inside his clothes.

Do authors need cyber insurance?  Perhaps, if they are small business persons.  Cyber Insurance does not cover European fines for violating the GDPR  (for instance by sending promotional newsletters to persons who have not affirmatively asked to be sent emails by authors.)

Legal blogger Ted Claypoole writing for the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson US LLP provides some useful information.

A helpful guide to what cyber insurance policies cost and what they cover can be found:

Thanks to William C. Wagner writing for Taft Stettinius and Hollister LLP

One firm that insures authors is Insureon, but there must be many.

Finally, there is the annoying problem of cryptojacking, which is a good reason to clear ones cache and cookies (often), and to turn off one's wifi from time to time.  If your PC or Mac seems unusually slow, and if the cooling fan runs more often and for longer than usual, you might not be writing scenes that are so steamy that they overheat your very computer. Instead, consider that your machine could have been cryptojacked.

Malwarebyes explains about cryptojacking.

On that happy note...

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Biology Marches On

I'm currently reading, little by little, a book by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (best known for THE SELFISH GENE), THE ANCESTOR'S TALE: A PILGRIMAGE TO THE DAWN OF LIFE. He structures the book by analogy with THE CANTERBURY TALES, with "pilgrims" joining the procession at various rendezvous points, backward from the most recent progenitors of humanity to the origin of life on Earth. At each "rendezvous," he introduces our "concestor" at that juncture, a coinage for "common ancestor." For instance, we meet the common ancestor of all known hominids, of hominids and other primates, of primates and other mammals, etc. One fascinating revelation of this book, for me, is how the classification of life on Earth has changed since my time in public school. In the 1950s and 60s, biology classes taught us to divide all creatures into two kingdoms, animals and plants. Bacteria, amoebae, and fungi got pigeonholed with plants, while protozoa qualified as animals. Today, biological science recognizes up to six kingdoms: Animals, Plants, Fungi, Protista, Archaea/Archaebacteria, and Bacteria/Eubacteria). Amazingly, according to Dawkins, fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants! Here we see an example of the trope "Science Marches On" (i.e., it's always possible for yesterday's established theories to be revised or replaced).

Similarly, during our elementary and high-school years (shortly after dinosaurs roamed the Earth), all humanity consisted of three races, then called Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. The song we learned in Sunday school about God's love for "all the little children" classifies them into "red and yellow, black and white." The three-race system of categories lumped "red" (Native Americans) in with the Mongoloid (Asian) ethnicities, not unreasonable considering the probable Asian origins of the original inhabitants of the Americas. If Inuits had been mentioned, they would probably have been included with the Mongoloid groups. Polynesians and other Pacific Islanders weren't brought up at all, much less Australian Aborigines and the Ainu of Japan. Aside from the fact that "race" in the old-fashioned sense is no longer considered a valid scientific category anyway, the ethnic divisions of Earth's population are more complicated than we were taught as children. A popular-culture example of unquestioning acceptance of the three-race system appears in James Michener's TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC. (It's not quite explicit in the movie, although "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" makes the implications clear enough.) When Nellie discovers that her French suitor has fathered illegitimate children by a Polynesian woman, she's appalled because, in her Southern world-view, there are only three races—white, Oriental, and Negro. Polynesians obviously don't belong to either of the first two, so they must be the third. (She uses the other N-word, however.)

Theories of the ancestry and origins of humanity have changed radically in recent decades, with new fossil discoveries and cutting-edge technology for detailed DNA studies of population movements. The film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY looks charmingly naive nowadays, with its dramatic scene based on the simplistic, now-abandoned assumption that our development into sapient beings sprang from our learning how to make weapons in order to kill things. (Elaine Morgan, in THE DESCENT OF WOMAN, labels this anthropological construct the "Tarzanist" theory.)

Coincidentally, I'm now rereading a duology by Rose Estes, TROLL-TAKEN and TROLL-QUEST. This fabulous urban fantasy (published in the 1990s) portrays the creatures we call "trolls" as descendants of Homo erectus, driven underground by the worldwide dominance of Homo sapiens. One of my favorite contemporary vampire series, S. M. Stirling's Shadowspawn trilogy (A TAINT IN THE BLOOD and sequels), postulates that his vampire-werewolf-sorcerer subspecies split off from "normal" humanity during a long period of isolation in the last Ice Age (a motif borrowed from Jack Williamson's classic DARKER THAN YOU THINK and updated with allusions to modern genetics and quantum mechanics). As reported in recent news, many scientists now believe that other hominids such as Neanderthals and the "hobbits" probably coexisted with and may have interbred with Homo sapiens. Keeping informed on latest developments in biology and anthropology can help authors create realistic, believable alien species.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Theme-Character Integration Part 14 The Family Man

Theme-Character Integration
Part 14
The Family Man

Previous entries in Theme-Character Integration are indexed here:

Two long, complicated, rich and deep Urban Fantasy series which are not marketed as Paranormal Romance, but which actually showcase the seminal element of Romance (the irresistible hunk), are very popular in 2018, thus worth studying.

One is a world built by Marshall Ryan Maresca, with a wide-spread cast of characters, presented in different series set in the same huge, sprawling city.   The series is tagged Streets of Maradaine, Maradaine Constabulary, Maradaine Elite -- and I'm sure there will be more.

The other world is built by Jim Butcher, made it to TV in a brief run series, an RPG, and is so far 15 (now 16 I think) volumes about a Forensic Wizard, a classic archetype I love.  It is tagged The Dresden Files, after the lead character, Harry Dresden Wizard For Hire.

Maresca's Amazon Page:

Dresden Series:

I've discussed both these authors and their popular worlds previously:

Maradaine is featured in these posts:

Dresden Files is featured in these posts:

So you can see that when I'm enchanted by a novel series, I keep relating the contents and skills-sets exemplified in that series to each and every writing technique, every artistic vision, and every sort of thematic statement extant.

A single novel, or even a series, is not composed of just one thing, one technique, one theme.  To capture the attention of a wide and varied readership, a novel has to be composed of a wide and varied bundle of themes, showcased by ever increasing command of craftsmanship.

In other words, after selling that first novel in a series, the writer has to demonstrate increased mastery in novel 2, or novel 3 will lose the initial readership.

Both these writers have shown increasing skills over the years.

Now, I have 3 books that, taken together, reveal an odd, and nearly invisible commonality among all the books of both Fantasy series that can be a big discovery for writers of Paranormal Romance in all its forms.

Both series are about meeting up with a great-grand-marvelous HUNK-HERO, who is young and in the wild adventure, power-acquisition segment of a lifetime.  Both series go on long enough for the Hunk to grow into a Man, and then begin to grow into a Family Man.

Both series are written by men.

Both series are about magic-using Hero who dedicates the use of Power to protecting the "innocent" or less capable.

In other words, both very popular series are about anti-bullying, protecting instead of torturing, using strength to the advantage of others, not yourself.

Seeking Justice, and being willing to throw down and get dirty to make Justice happen - that is the hallmark of the Family Man.

Each series is being published in story-order, by the internal chronology of the world unfolding before your eyes, so the main character grows up right before your eyes.

Maresca's Maradaine novels are about a Family, and the inheriting of position and obligations from one's predecessors. One obligation in focus from one brother is the obligation to gain command of his magical powers and use them for the defense of his helpless mother, and the bringing to justice of those who rendered his mother helpless.  The other brother's focus is on gaining political power and position in the street gang their father used to run, and turning the gang's objective toward Peace rather than gang-warfare in the streets of Maradaine.

Jim Butcher's Spring 2018 release is Brief Cases, an anthology collecting stories set in the Dresden Files universe between the events of each of the main novels in the series with a NEW ORIGINAL never before published story of vast interest to those writing Science Fiction Romance with or without Magic.

The intensely fascinating feature of this Dresden Files anthology is the introductions done by Jim Butcher which explain the origin of the story and the way he built the world and the characters.  This is where you learn about Family.

The commentary reveals how the writer takes an angle on a Character that is designed to rivet the attention of a particular readership looking for a particular thing (in the case of the Dresden Files, the emphasis is on combat scenes involving magic).  But to make an "angle" (a camera angle on a Soul) work for any reader, the writer must know what that Character "looks like" from other angles.  "Who" is this guy?

Jim Butcher's commentary on these stories reveals a lot about the writer as intermediary between Character and Readership.

In both series we have young men growing up with complex family histories "gone wrong" and striving mightily to make a good life for themselves.

In Butcher's new anthology, Brief Cases, he adds the story (retold from 3 points of view - adding what the Characters were doing while apart that they didn't tell each other about) of Dresden taking his 9 year old daughter to the Zoo one fine day, with his "dog" (magical) which he rescued some novels ago.  Each of the three face down trials of conscience and character, and come out splendidly.

This shows us our favorite Wizard, Chicago's only professional Wizard, Harry Dresden, growing up into the role of father.

There is tragedy, action, pain, anguish, and above all Family.  How they mix defines the theme.  Each of these two series has a distinctive Theme -- and each book in the series explores one relavent sub-set theme.

If you set out to write a Romance Series -- be sure you have planned what to do for an encore.  Don't let the material run away with you.  Don't let your Characters be too invulnerable.  Gain the personal strength to command the material -- just as these Magic Users command their Powers.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Cheats, Threats, And Murkiness

Let's start with a little sympathy for the Evil One.... or Zon.

Not so much has been written recently about all the NOIs  (Notices of Intent to use music) filed with the Copyright Office because the music streaming service claims they cannot find the copyright owner.

Legal blogger Coe W. Ramsey writing for the law firm Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP, explain that identifying copyright ownership of a song is not necessarily a no-brainer.

"Music Law 101: Who Owns The Copyright In A Song?"

It's interesting reading.  Authors who want to use song lyrics in their novels should be careful. It might be more trouble than it's worth.

As an aside, a composer of any genre who uses a snatch of a song should consider the possibility that the audience may know by heart the entire song.  Currently for instance, there is a car company that is associating their lovely safe new vehicle with a persona who threatens to lay souls to waste.

A legal eagle's eye view of threats posted on Facebook has changed.  Apparently, there was a time when SCOTUS ruled it not illegal for a man to use a Facebook post to announce his intention to kill his wife. Nowadays, it is illegal for a woman (or a man) to use a Facebook group post to threaten to sue witnesses if they dare to testify in her (or his) disfavor.

Read "Extraordinary Employee Misconduct- Threatening Witnesses Through Facebook."

Legal blogger Fiona W. Ong  for the law firm Shawe Rosenthal LLP explains the chilling effects such use of Facebook can have on justice, and the dim view that one court took of the plaintiff's alleged threats to her colleagues.

And so, to the revelation that cheating at copyrighted digital games may be copyright infringement. If you download a program of any sort (or a book!), and you have to clink an "I AGREE" box, read even the finest of the fine print. The fine print is a contract, and you incur the legal presumption that you have read and understood it, and affirmatively agreed to it.

In "Cheaters Never Prosper And They Also Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringement"

legal blogger Guang-Yu Zhu   for the law firm Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP comments on the twist in the Zipperer case.

What you don't read or don't understand in an agreement can be a legal pain in your dark side!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Maryland Renaissance Festival

This past Saturday, my husband (Leslie Roy Carter) and I had a book signing for our Wild Sorceress series, hosted by the Page After Page bookstore at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Here's a photo of us dressed up in the obligatory faire garb:

Page After Page

That's my brother-in-law standing off to the side, in the red shirt. We sold several books and had lots of fun conversations with passers-by. Where else but at a Renn Faire (or an SF or gaming con) can you have a spontaneous discussion with a stranger about the abilities of warlocks in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons?

You can check out the four Wild Sorceress novels—a trilogy and a prequel—here:

Wild Sorceress

The Renn Faire, in my opinion, is much more fun than a commercial amusement park as well as less expensive overall. (Kids under seven get in free!) Relaxed atmosphere, interesting costumes to look at, better and more varied food, no scary "thrill rides," and a wide variety of singing, acting, comedy, swordplay, and other performances to enjoy. Its website is here, and in case you live nearby and want to visit, they're open for a few more weekends yet:

Maryland Renn Fest

In addition to our sword-and-sorcery novels, I'd hoped to sign a couple of anthologies in which I have stories. Unfortunately, the bookstore wasn't able to acquire copies at a discount, because the publisher uses CreateSpace to produce their trade paperbacks. So that part of the plan fell through. The brave new world of multiple publishing options has some downsides, alas. At least we can always count on books from the "big" publishers to be available from major distributors. Every silver cloud has a gray lining and vice versa. Les and I handed business cards to everybody who'd take one, in hopes some people might visit our website and investigate our other works.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy - Part 5 - Domestic Violence During the HEA

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy
Part 5
Domestic Violence During the HEA 

Previous parts of this series on Soul Mates linked into and through the HEA are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 2 starts with a list of related posts and the Index post to the series of Believing in the Happily Ever After.

Part 3

Part 4

And an index to related posts:

In Part 4 of this series, we discussed the Body and Soul and which gets to enjoy sex, and what happens when one is denied.

There is a theory of psychology that says we treat our intimate partner (spouse, S.O.) the way we treat ourselves inside ourselves (conscious to subconscious or Body to Soul.)  If you constantly win by kicking your Soul in the teeth and planting your Body's Boot on your Soul's neck, you won't win.

That is, if your Body always "wins" or your Soul always "gives in to" your Body, you will be headed for recurring bouts of misery.  If your Soul always wins, you will be miserable.  Balance is the actual goal, not "winning."

How we treat ourselves, inside ourselves, is shaped by how we were raised, and how the parent treats the infant, toddler, etc.  We learn "who" we are, and what we're worth by how our parent (nurturing figure) treats us.

A 1983 self-help book changed a lot of lives and impressed the parents (or grandparents) of the readers you are working to entertain.  It is full of plot twists and hints on how to create natural intimate dialogue of a couple that is headed for a Happily Ever After ending.

Here is a short video explaining the origin of Internal Conflict expressed as Domestic Disputes -- or even Domestic Violence.

In that video, you can see how internal violence happens.  The Soul has one goal, the Body has another, totally incompatible goal, and the Soul is the interloper, the invader of the Body's world, thus set up to be the loser.

The Soul is the "weaker" of the two, and the human animal being the Primate that it is, attacks weakness and interlopers.  See some studies on the basic animal primate behavior -- primates form tribes, group hunt, and do most of the social oriented things humans do, including creating a "pecking order" and accepting an Alpha Male who is the most vicious bully of the bunch and chases rivals away.

The basic animal human is a bully.  Connection to the human Soul mitigates that behavior.  More than simply resisting the behavior of bullying, the Soul-Connected Alpha feels less Bodily Need to bully.  The stronger the soul-connection, the more tranquil the behavior.  The stronger the soul-connection, the harder it is to anger, shame, or insult this individual.

But how does someone achieve this inner tranquility that projects into domestic tranquility in which to raise tranquil children to be tranquil adults?

Are you forever consigned to raging combat in life just because you were raised in a dysfunctional home?  Or can you resolve at least some of the issues, defuse your "buttons" and strengthen your connection to your Soul?

The resolution of this kind of internal conflict is to "find common ground" between Body and Soul -- and transform that common element by fire into occupying both the world of the Soul and the world of the Body.

In the video's illustrative case, the common element is Olive Oil, and fire lights up both the material and spiritual planes of existence, joining them, forging a coaxial cable of 7 separate fibers between the Soul and the Body.

We laid thousands of miles of fiber optic cable across the USA a few decades ago, and then recession came, the companies collapsed, ownership changed hands, and for years after that the fiber optic cable lay there, dark.  Now it is all lit, carrying signal to the maximum capacity, and we are frantically laying more cable while mastering wireless signallng.

Fiber optic cable is designed to transmit light modulated (like radio signals are modulated) to carry signal.  We talked about the Body/Soul model using Signal/Noise ratio analogy in Part 4.  Think about the Soul-Body connection as a bundle of fibers designed to carry a "signal" which is analogous to "light" in a fiber-optic cable.

Many traditions use candle lighting in powerful ceremonies.  The creation of light in this physical world, light the body sees by, causes "light" to occur on the plane where the Soul is.  The Soul and the Body can communicate by this mutual light.

The Couple living on into their Happily Ever After is not without their domestic disputes, screaming fights, retaliatory practical jokes, and other violent interactions.  They may not be totally without pure Monkey Sex, or rough sex (usually laughing hysterically all the way), but they will never be without communication.

At every interaction, each Body will be relaying messages from its Soul to the Soul of the other -- wide open, free flowing, communication.

With each encounter, the Soul Mates will joust with each other to spur the "lighting" of more Soul-fire-fibers connecting Soul to Body.  Each encounter will increase the strength of the bond between Body and Soul.

The strength of that Body-Soul bond is what we identify as Strength of Character, slow to anger, slow to take offense, level headed in an emergency, goal-focused, and always ready to defend a weaker person, not bully them.

The strong Character has unshakable self-esteem and the ability to transmit that, to light the Soul-Fire of their children.  Those children will never experience a need to bully other children.

This is a portrait of the Ideal Strong Character.  You can start a novel with a Character who is merely strong -- and over the course of the plot, teach him to light up more of his Bonding Fibers, connect better to the purified essence of himself, understand his Identity and thereby the identity of others.  He will come to the end of the novel with a clearly enhanced ability to secure his own Happily Ever After ending.

Readers who have any acquaintance with the unflappable adult, the secure adult, the tranquil adult personality will recognize how much improved this Character's chances are of living a full Happily Ever After life -- because they know people who are doing that.

People who are inwardly tranquil generate a tranquil environment around them, and enjoy it rather than get bored.  The strong character does not get bored!

 But most real people are somewhere in between, and do not make steady progress toward inner tranquility.  They leap forward a lot, sink back a bit, leap forward then sink back and sink back.  By staggering and lurching through life, they may get a little more tranquil over decades, but we'll still be between, with lots of room to grow.

Most of your readers, in real life, know real people who are slowly making progress toward become "cool" or well-balanced amidst the inner storms.

Show them a Character who has, despite all vicissitudes, made some visible progress as a result of the Events (Plot) of the novel, and they will be convinced this Character has a fair shot at an HEA.

To make this work as drama, the pair of Characters who are in turmoil, who have not found their Soul Mate yet, who are Soul Mates unrecognized, have to be embedded in an environment which contains two or more examples of Characters living actual HEA segments of their lives.

There should be Characters who are striving toward an HEA, maybe taking chancy shortcuts in life, and losing and losing, getting farther from Happiness and closer to despair.

The essence of Drama (Pluto transits bring Drama) is contrast.  Dramatic Events change the Characters but only if the Events find fertile soil within the  Character.

A Character's story happens when the Events in his Life do connect with his internal Conflict and cause him to change his Character (remembering Character is the Body/Soul Connection).

After the Events of the novel, the Character who is no longer changing is no longer subject material for another novel.  A Character who does not change because of the Events of the novel does not belong in the novel.

Stories are about change, what causes change, why this event caused that change, and is it an improvement?

Most real life lives have a period of 3-5 years when hammer blows of Events cause actual reshaping of Character - redefining Identity.  And then whatever the situation is after that, it does not change again, usually for 4 or 5 decades.  The Character may end up Happy or Miserable, but whatever prevails will persist creating at least the illusion of tranquility.

To find your Character's story, look for the big, pivotal moment that defines and directs change, a cauldron of events that purifies.  The Character's story happens where the Character changes, though the course of Life may change, too.  Story is about Character, and Character changes by becoming more or less connected between Body and Soul.  Plot happens to the Body.  Story happens to the Soul.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Very Fine Print - Just Because It Says It's A "Reminder" Doesn't Mean It's Not a Pitch


Unfortunately, the American 1st Amendment allows anyone to make the misleading claim that their written communication is "Important", and to demand (using the imperative mood) that the recipient of the missive is hasty in reviewing the material.

If you review this hastily, you might not notice that this "Reminder" comes from somewhere called "Bureau", rather than from the USPTO ... which is an Office. You might also not notice that this "reminder" gives your ten-year anniversary date as a whole year (or more) earlier than the renewal is actually due.

Signing and returning this document will not actually renew your trademark, it will empower the helpful Bureau to renew your trademark on your behalf. The large block of fine print most professionally and politely discloses to the target reader that the "Bureau" is a private business, and also that they are not endorsed by the US government.

Government websites are usually .gov

Like this one:

The USPTO warns about a great many purveyors of perhaps premature and unnecessary reminder services
and their list should be a go-to for authors and trademark owners.

Fascinatingly, the sample envelope that the USPTO displays purports to come from New York, but was postmarked from Santa Clara. It is also always interesting when a business sends mail from a seemingly prestigious (Park Avenue?) address, but encourages respondents to mail to a PO Box in a different zip code.

Rent at 230 Park Avenue appears to be as low as $33.80 per day.  That is, per individual, and for a multi-month lease.

That reminds this author of the interesting details of the work experience of an author-client-funded publisher's London-office-based representative, by Henry Coburn

Other helpful sites for aspiring authors:

The above are also jolly reading for those who enjoy the occasional, regrettable bout of schadenfreude.

Please respect the copyrights of helpful (and of unhelpful) sites. That may go doubly so for our European readers, given the passage of  Article 11 and Article 13, despite the efforts of the highly alarmed folks at EFF and others.... much to the glee of musicians in particular, who may now look forward to being paid when their work is monetized by others without their permission or fairly negotiated compensation.

Article 11 is described as a "link tax", which may mean that content creators' publishers may demand payment when major platforms quote and link to copyrighted works such as stories. There are exceptions for small and micro platforms. With luck, individual bloggers are considered small, and perhaps "fair use" rules will continue to apply, although what is "fair" may in time be more narrowly interpreted (as reportage, parody, review, scholarship.)

Article 13 holds platforms responsible if the platforms permit or turn a blind eye when users upload and share unlicensed, copyrighted work, which might mean music, music videos, photographs.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Smart Houses

The October 2018 issue of CONSUMER REPORTS contains an article about some of the things a "smart house" can do for its occupants.

We're closer than I formerly realized to the versatile total-AI house in Ray Bradbury's classic story "There Will Come Soft Rains," which is available here:

There Will Come Soft Rains

CONSUMER REPORTS evaluates Internet-connected systems that remotely operate appliances from a cell phone, "smart speakers" such as Alexa and Siri that can be linked to thousands of domestic devices, and voice-operated home security features (e.g., video doorbells, smart locks, security cameras). Although you might have no interest in receiving messages from your refrigerator or washing machine, you might find it useful to be able to issue commands or ask questions while your hands are otherwise occupied and remotely lock doors or adjust the thermostat.

Here's a Wikipedia article on automated houses, which lists numerous other functions that such a structure might perform:

Home Automation

For instance: tracking the movements of pets and babies; turning lights off and on; monitoring air quality; monitoring vital signs and even dispensing medication for elderly or disabled persons; controlling smoke detectors and carbon dioxide sensors. It's all part of the rapidly evolving "Internet of things."

Wikipedia: Internet of Things

While we may not be able to build a sentient dwelling like SARAH, the intelligent, self-willed, and sometimes uncooperative house in the TV series EUREKA, all elements of the technology that runs the abandoned home in Bradbury's story are theoretically within our reach today. Two potential problems with living in a fully AI-operated house come to mind: (1) Suppose the system gets hacked? (2) If the designers place too much dependence on the technology and don't allow for manual override, the inhabitants could find themselves helpless in case the system malfunctions. Still, it might be fun to be able to speak any command or request and have the house fulfill it (including keeping the place clean). That could become an all-encompassing version of the ideal robot Jeeves I touched upon last week.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Soul Mates And The HEA Real or Fantasy Part 4 - Is Monkey Sex Best There Can Be

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy
Part 4
Is Monkey Sex Best There Can Be? 

Previous parts of this series on Soul Mates linked into and through the HEA are:

Part 2 starts with a list of related posts and the Index post to the series of Believing in the Happily Ever After.

I'm posting this 4 minute cat video about origin of domesticated house cat, and the world view of the domestic house cat because I discovered it "by accident" the day after I wrote the Part 3 of this series of posts.

That Cat Video, if you don't see it here, is on this website:

The previous Soul Mates and the HEA post tackled the issues surrounding defining Happiness.

Romance fans generally assume that joining with your Soul Mate automatically creates Happiness in you, and not the sort of spike to a peak and equally steep decline to misery that Happiness usually is associated with.

We try to sustain the PEAK experience - thinking this is the proper mode of function and an achievement.  Falling off he peak experience is felt as failure, or as proving that what was experienced was not happiness.

Language fails to capture the nuances of human experience in the defined denotations of words.  Fiction must step into the gap and evoke emotional tone-poems in readers to explain how what is going on inside of you is also part of the experience of life felt by others.

Yet at the same time as we are all alike, we are each individually unique.

So the teen's view of "nobody ever felt like this before" is true, at the same time it is false.  Everyone loses virginity in some aspect of life.  It isn't always sexual virginity that is lost -- but the experience is the same.  You can't do it for the first time again.

Firsts are unique, but everyone experiences their First.  Your First will differ markedly from the First of other people.

So, we might further refine our definition of "Happily" in "Happily Ever After" as FREE ACCESS to the best sex, ever.

Remember, in Part 3 of this series, we focused on the necessary but not sufficient condition for happiness as being Freedom, but noted how many types of freedom there can be, how unique to an individual's life-pattern the sense of freedom can be, and what responsibility has to do with feeling an optimum level of Freedom so there is a chance at Happily Ever After.

So if Happiness must include some sort of sexual experience (for some people that might not be true), and the sexual experience must be "peak" or "the best ever" or "optimized for this individual" then the fiction writer must portray the various parameters that combine to create "the best sex."

There is a principle in Magic, "As Above; So Below" -- or the material world mirrors its supernal counterpart.

Or, for example, the Laws of Thermodynamics apply both to the material world and to the supernal world(s). (In Kabbalah there are 4 Worlds, us and three Worlds previous in the creation process which is ongoing).

Do you see how the World you build for your fiction defines Character, Story, Plot -- and let's you choose among limited bundles of Themes?  For example, if Magic is real in your Fictional World, then your Characters have one set of problems.  If Magic is not real, doesn't work, can't intrude, in your Fictional World, your Scientist Characters (lead Characters in Science Fiction Romance) have a different set of problems to solve.

In our real world, there are those who see the world interlaced with something supernal -- G-d, Supreme Architect, Creator, Little crazy-gods raised in dysfunctional families, demons, angels, etc. -- and those who see only the hard-surface of Reality (with or without quantum theory).

We all seem to live in the same World -- but large groups select clusters of rules and theories to believe in, or to explain what they observe about Life.

What is the truth about Reality - the reality your reader lives in?

As with the virgin who is convinced by personal experience that no other human ever in all history and pre-history has ever-ever-ever experienced THIS (peak sex, or whichever sort of virginity is being lost), the truth about the nature of Reality is both true and untrue at the same time.

Usually, by the word "true" we mean to refer to a binary view of reality, an Aristotelian view, a duality view -- and the only other value that can exist in that World is "un-true."

But, as with the Virgin, human experience is not yes/no, on/off, clean, clear and defined.  Human experience is more often a spectrum.

Those with some sexually active years behind them understand how wide a variation of experience is possible with sex and how complex that experience is.

Writing for a readership that is sexually Virgin, has just lost Virginity and is blown away by it, or has a gaggle of rug-rats to wrangle because of sexual activity (both judicious and injudicious), the Romance writer must choose a theory of how sex works, why it works, what is good and desirable, and what causes Epic Fail Mode to engage.

Then, the writer has to convince the reader that this choice is a valid one for this particular Character in this particular World.

In real life, the reader probably knows that sex can lead to the ultimate misery in life -- but believes with all the heart a human can muster that sex is the gateway to the HEA.

Sex is a necessary ingredient in Happiness for most people (keep in mind, not for everyone).

As a writer, you get to choose a definition of Happiness that your Characters start out believing, choose Events that disabuse them of that notion, and choose a new definition of Happiness they settle into at the HEA (and by that point it is not "belief" that shapes their emotions, but "understanding." )

This series on Soul Mates and the HEA is working out one such set of premises that work for fiction.

We established that Strength of Character is rooted in the signal/noise ratio of the energy flowing between the Soul and the Body.

When the Signal is high, intense, loud, the Soul is in command of the body so the body experiences Emotion energized by the Soul.

When the Noise laced through the connection disrupts communication from the Soul, the Body is left to become "feral" -- reverting to the Wild.

If you haven't watched the cat video yet, (it is about 4 minutes), do play it to the end.

It pretty much defines "domestication."  The most prominent characteristic of domesticated animals is not compliance with human wishes, but rather that humans have taken command of the species' breeding.  We breed dogs for certain traits, and cats for others -- chickens, cows, etc.

In other words, domestication is genetics -- and we do this with plants, too.

We now know that experiences alter the way genes "express" in a human being.  You might have wild genes, but living civilized will reshape how they express in your body.

So where, in human nature, does "experience" reside?  From what part of human nature does assessment of the intensity of an experience arise?

How do we know it was good sex - good enough to marry?

You might build your fictional world around the "truth" that emotional experience arises from the Soul, but is evaluated by the Body.

That bit of Worldbuilding would lead to one bundle of Themes.

You might build your fictional world around the "truth" that emotional experience arises from the Body, but is evaluated by the Soul.

That bit of Worldbuilding would lead to an entirely different bundle of Themes.

Your main Characters might journey, stepwise, through many novels, from the World where emotion arises from the Body to the World where emotion arises from the Soul.

What would it take to make that transition?  How many different ways can a couple experience sex?

Humans seek Happiness -- and envision achieving Happiness and staying happy for the rest of their lives.

Can you write a series of novels starting with a couple forming and experiencing intermittent happiness, lousy sex and good sex and great sex, and no idea why this variation occurs, all the way to the same couple discovering why their performances vary and how to change the way they live to create reliable, ever-after peak happiness sex every time?

How many world-structure theories would they have to explore - one per novel?  Atheist and humanist all the way to some of the less popular strict religions -- and a wide variety of philosophies like Buhddism or Hinduism, and the whole panoply of Neo-Paganisms.

Each culture has a view of where in a perfect life sex belongs -- and what makes for Great Sex.  The current readership believes that the Body rules, emotion originates in the body and sex done right is simply a matter of yielding to urgent physical needs.

In fact, the current readership is dominated by those who have been taught it is unhealthy to resist such urgent bodily needs -- and it is actually impossible to resist the body's urgings.

And that is true, too.  If the connection between the Soul and Body is frayed, full of noise, corroded away, it really is impossible to resist the rulership of the body.

However, humanity has produced whole cultures that feature individuals who have complete control of the body -- Fire Walkers, staying warm in icy-snow without fur wraps, reducing oxygen consumption, walking on nails, -- and they are not tightly focused on the Judeo-Christian view of God.

Something about humans is able to control the "life-functions" of the dependency on food, clothing, shelter, and sex.  In your fictional universe, is that something Soul?

Neuroscientists have measured differences in brain functioning among humans who pray, and those who don't -- or those who aren't praying at the moment.  Holistic Health professionals activate that mechanism in a vast variety of ways.  Tantric Sex is all about control, conscious domination of the sexual energies -- the exact opposite of, "I can't resist you."

The "truth" is that in the real world, "I can resist you, but I choose not to," is the way it has to be said.  Being overwhelmed by Bodily demands is a CHOICE - not a defeat.

So, if one chooses to be overwhelmed by the Body, does that choice lead to Happiness Ever After?

THEME: Never resist bodily urges because it is unhealthy.

If the majority of experts believes and teaches that Theme insistently, just as physicists have insisted you can't travel faster than light, the science fiction writer takes the opposite assumption

THEME:  It is unhealthy to let Bodily urges rule behavior.

and explores "what would happen if ..." you successfully set Bodily Urges in their proper place?  Star Trek's Vulcans do this with Logic -- but get punished for it when the body rebells and defeats Logic.

If he Body's dominance is a defeat not a choice, then you have been robbed of the Happily Ever After ending you were born for.

What of humans living on another planet?  What of human cultures exposed to Alien cultures?  What if there is an Alien culture (full of sexy hunks) where the HEA is a minimum expectation -- and there is much more beyond mere Happiness?

Are humans intrinsically designed to "look up to" Something like domesticated cats?  Is that why we keep cats as pets?  Does it matter which Something we look up to?  Must we "look up to" a Something that provides the Happily Ever After?

What could possibly be better than pure Monkey Sex?

If Tantric Sex is sex that doesn't involve the body, a pure Soul orgasm, what would a balanced combination (Soul connection to Body wide open) of Body/Soul Monkey/Tantric sex feel like?  After years of common Monkey Sex, would a human who experienced Body/Soul sex feel like that Virgin who is convinced no one ever had a First Time like hers?  Would that human be correct, or have humans always had people who live the HEA with balanced Body/Soul sex?  Is there a way that is known, or do we have to marry an Alien to experience this?

Is a sexual orgasm a phenomenon of the Body that does not touch the Soul?  Or a phenomenon of the Soul that does not touch the Body?  Or are Body and Soul a joint task force targeting Happily Ever After?

The writer has to choose answers to these questions and use those answers (themes) to build a world for the Characters who will live, grow, learn, and adopt various answers to those questions.

Writing Science Fiction Romance does not require you to "get the right answer" to those questions, but it does require (like Science Fiction) mastery of the process of finding questions and posing them in a way your fictional Characters will be able to answer satisfactorily.

Watch that Video and think about those cats.  Why are cat pictures so common on the social networks?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Is The DOJ Watching Facebook Advertisements?

"Targeted" advertising is probably efficient and convenient.  If you don't think that it is worth paying for puce eyeballs to view your book advertisement (because you assume that people with puce eyeballs will never buy your book, anyway), Facebook allows you to make fairly sure that puce eyeballs don't see your ad.

Leave aside the moral hazard, and the possibility that you are setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is probably no "Title" in American law that obliges a Romance author to pay a social media site to show book advertisements to persons not interested in reading/fiction/women's fiction.

On the other hand, if you are a homeowner or landlord and your advertisement is intended to find a tenant or a buyer, you need to be careful about the demographic choices by race/gender/zip code/nationality etc that you can make on Facebook.

Legal bloggers A. Michelle CanterHeather Howell Wright  and Christopher K. Friedman  discuss the issue of discrimination in advertising on Facebook for the law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

HUD and DOJ Challenge Facebook's Advertising Platforms Under The Fair Housing Act.

It's a fascinating insight, that points out that data-driven, targeted marketing might create new avenues for liability, both for the platforms, and possibly for those who use the bells and whistles that the platform provides.

It is also astounding how much information "the Internet" has on myriad individuals. The privacy enthusiasts at EFF are raising the alarm about warrantless surveillance of utilities company customers (electric, gas) through the use of "smart meters" that have been forcibly installed across the USA. Allegedly, law enforcement has started to ask the utilities companies for access to the data.

Allegedly, as often as every five minutes, 24/7, a smart meter on your home may be transmitting information about what you are doing inside your home (as long as you are using either gas or electricity to do whatever it is you are doing.)

1984 indeed.  Perhaps this might lead to prosecutions of persons using their irrigation system under cover of darkness during watering bans! These rfi emitting devices may be hazardous to health (but there is a device you can purchase from Amazon to interfere with the rfi. )

For more info on smart meters:

Back to Facebook, blogger Stefan Herwig discusses "Networked Propaganda" and copyright issues in a thought provoking article.

Apparently, with Facebook, a user does not have to make choices about what he/she sees.  Facebook, allegedly, takes it upon itself to ensure that users see views that reinforce and encourage and validate their views beliefs and biases that are already held by the user.

For those who wish to advertise to like minded readers, here are some very helpful resources:

Especially for our European readers, please be advised that this blog contains an eclectic selection of links, almost all of which may come with assorted "cookies", whether you click on them or not. Enjoy!

(Or clear your history and your cache!)

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The Need for a Wife?

The 1971 launch of MS magazine included a now-classic essay titled "I Want a Wife," by Judy Syfers. It's very short; you can read the whole thing here:

I Want a Wife

The author, of course, isn't asking for a life's companion. What she wants is a multi-purpose appliance called a "wife" to run the household, handle persnickety domestic details, and deal with the demands of the outside world. (Note the tour-de-force of never applying a pronoun—and therefore a gender—to this hypothetical perfect wife.) For example:

"I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working. I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying."

And how about this zinger? "I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene."

When ours was a two-income household with school-age children at home, this essay struck a chord with me. As the author concludes, who wouldn't want a wife like that? Has any actual wife ever enjoyed the services of such a convenient paragon? It's an established truism that in two-career marriages, even those in which the husband shares household chores, the wife typically has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that everything gets done, and she performs most of the "emotional work" of maintaining family and social ties. On TV, Mrs. Brady and Mrs. Muir had faithful housekeepers. Still, the mothers in those sitcoms didn't lie around and relax—or devote themselves solely to intellectual enrichment. While Mrs. Muir was a professional writer, she spent plenty of time on household tasks. Both she and Mrs. Brady not only directed the housekeeper but joined in the hands-on work. What about previous eras, when middle- and upper-class women routinely had servants? Nevertheless, they had to oversee the servants, plan the meals, etc., not to mention hiring the housekeeper, nanny, maids, and other staff. Granted, maybe aristocratic ladies managed to shift all the domestic responsibility to the housekeeper and the butler, with nothing to do themselves but approve menus; their "wife" duties probably focused on maintaining the family's social position. Also, if we traveled back to, say, the nineteenth century and enjoyed the services of such workers, from our modern perspective we couldn't help being aware of how we were exploiting them.

If you're familiar with the stories of P. G. Wodehouse, you'll remember feckless bachelor Bertie Wooster's omnicompetent valet, Jeeves. What we all really need isn't a wife, but a Jeeves. Aside from a few references to his relatives, Jeeves doesn't seem to have a life outside his employment. He not only manages Bertie's apartment, meals, clothes, and other mundane necessities with impeccable perfection but often steps in to untangle Bertie's personal crises.

If we could afford a Jeeves in reality, though, we'd have to acknowledge his right to a life of his own, not to mention being nagged by our consciences for underpaying him. What we actually want is a Jeeves-type robot. Alexa and Siri can answer questions, carry out some tasks, and remind us of appointments, but otherwise we have quite a distance to go in terms of artificial servants. Wouldn't it be ideal to have the multi-skilled domestic robot often portrayed in science fiction, as affordable as a car and as efficient as Wodehouse's ideal "gentleman's gentleman"? Only one potential problem: A machine that could perform all those jobs with the nuanced expertise of a Jeeves would have to approach true AI. And then it might demand its rights as a sentient being, and we'd have to worry about exploiting it.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Soul Mates and the HEA, Real or Fantasy Part 3 - Convincing Your Reader

Soul Mates and the HEA, Real or Fantasy
Part 3
Convincing Your Reader
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Previous parts of this series on Soul Mates linked into and through the HEA are:

Part 2 starts with a list of related posts and the Index post to the series of Believing in the Happily Ever After.

One major reason "the general public" does not read Romance Genre, or hasn't read any Romance but believes Romance is trash, is that to be a genuine Romance popular among Romance readers (and award winning), a novel must have an HEA, a Happily Ever After ending for the most beloved couple.  Other Characters may get their comeuppance, but the main Characters must leap off the end of the novel into an HEA.

The general public doesn't accept the premise that the HEA exists in real life.  At most, real people can hope for an HFN (Happy For Now) state of affairs.

That is actually not true, but very few people understand that, so if you are aiming to market a Romance to the general (wider) public, then you must have at least one skeptical Character who will have his/her mind changed by your Thematic argument, and one Character who will not undergo a shift of opinion. 

Though Theme is always a simple, clear, short statement, the novel the theme generates is actually an argument in which the writer must present the case for, and the case against, the theme, ending without forcing a conclusion on the Reader.  The novelist must respect the Reader's intelligence.

This kind of Reader skepticism about the premise of the novel, about the essential defining theme of an entire genre, is one thing Readers of Science Fiction and Mystery have in common.

In Mystery/Detective genres, the defining theme is that Justice Will Prevail.

In Science Fiction and sub-genres, the defining theme is that Science Conquers All, even though right now Science is utterly wrong about the novel's main problem or premise (e.g. you can't go faster than the speed of light).

In Science Fiction, the favorite genre of working Scientists, the state of your reader's mind when you make them believe the impossible (e.g. you can go faster than light) is called "Suspension of Disbelief."

You don't have to make them believe, but just stop disbelieving.

Previously, the Romance Genre aimed at an audience that already believed in the existence and accessibility of the HEA - just find your Soul Mate, win his attention, and you've got it made.

Romance readers find "accidental meetings" with the Soul Mate entirely plausible -- in fact, Romance genre audience expect that most often in real life, that its how Soul Mates meet -- by accident.

These attitudes make Science Fiction and Romance Readers almost identical markets.

In real life history of Science, most civilization blossoming Discoveries happened by accident.

In real life history of Romance, most vast culture shifting Stories (Helen of Troy), happen almost by accident.

But after the initial Event happens, both genres require Strong Characters to act boldly and heroically to move lives, family attitudes, public Grant Money, into the project (a marriage, or a Doctoral Thesis).

Science Fiction is usually about a Scientist who is good at Science being called out to do Action/Adventure Heroic Deeds.  The cliche image of the Scientist is a person who is physically inept, socially challenged, and incapable of heroism (Clark Kent).  The story in Science Fiction is usually about Clark Kent ripping off his shirt and leaping into the sky as Superman.

Romance is usually about a young girl who lives in an intolerable situation, may be good at managing the situation but is called out to do Scary Commitment Heroic Deeds.  The cliche image of the young woman is a person who is subservient, a victim, a child in an adult body who wants to be rescued and taken care of -- instead of rescuing and taking care of.  The story in Romance Genre is about the child inside growing up into the adult role of womanhood (despite having to be a Lady, sometimes).

In other words, both genres are about a revelation of Identity.  Self-discovery, or demonstration to others about the true nature of this Character.

So how can the Science Fiction Romance writer convince Readers to suspend disbelief in the HEA?

Both genres focus on Characters becoming Strong.

In Science Fiction, the Character's Strength is developed as physical challenges are overcome using intellectual attributes.

In Romance, the Character's Strength is developed as sexual challenges are overcome using intellectual attributes.

You might challenge the idea that hot-sweaty Romance requires application of intellectual attributes, but consider the intellectual courage necessary to throw off the shackles of convention, of self-image, of Identity, and explore the full range of the physical body.

In Theme-Character Integration Part 13
we pondered the idea that strength of character, in real life and in fantasy fiction, is proportionate to the strength of the connection between Soul and Body, that allows the Soul to train, tame, and domesticate the animal body, the purely physical nature.

A human differs from other creatures in that the human Soul is keeper and custodian of the Body.  When the purely animal nature prevails, the person behaves like any other primate - with lust overcoming common sense, with the need for revenge ripping the life to shreds.  Humans who commit what civilization calls "atrocities" against other humans, or who derive joy from ripping animals to bloody shreds, (but aren't technically insane people), are often recognized as "animals" because the Soul part of the person is not evident to other humans.

So if the hypothesis that the Soul exists and that humans are dual-beings, body-and-soul, welded into a single, inextricable whole, is accepted by the Reader, then the idea of a Soul Mate can be easily introduced.

So again, how can a Science Fiction Romance writer convince the wider readership to suspend disbelief in the HEA?

What exact is a Happily Ever After?

Science fiction readers have one concept of "ever after" -- Romance genre fans might not be as well versed in the mathematics of Time and so some might have a different idea of how long "ever after" lasts.

Lets assume the readers we are discussing all regard "ever after" as "until death do us part."

Dying before you've held your grandchildren, or taught them to fish, hunt and till the soil, could be considered a tragedy, while dying of old age surrounded by grandchildren would be a satisfactory "ever after."

This brings us to the question of what is Happiness?

It is said to be impossible to achieve by pursuing it.  But what is happiness?

How can you portray two Characters reaching an HEA if you, the writer, does not have a working definition of Happiness?

Happiness has to be very complex and must have some abstract, maybe mystical, components.

Maybe Romance Genre's HEA is actually not Happily Ever After, but Peacefully Ever After?

Can you have happiness without peace?  Can you have peace without happiness?

Some couples happily fight, bicker, rage and take out the anger generated at a job on their Mate.  It may not look or sound like peace, but something tranquil is going on there.

Some couples never raise their voices to each other or pick and criticize each other.  A few of those actually stay married through their grandchildren's weddings!

Sometimes marriages founder when one person is happy and the other not.  A spouse's happiness might not be contagious.

What is happiness?

Maybe we just have to accept that Happiness is different for each individual person.

Or maybe the sensation, the emotion of Happiness is the same for everyone, but the external conditions that trigger that emotional condition differ from person to person?

Could happiness depend on external situations not influenced by individual preferences and actions?

What is a Happily Ever After ending?

Are people happy when nothing bothers them?

Are there people who love to be miserable?  Or at least morose?

Would eliminating annoyances require removing bothersome, annoying and irritating elements from the environment?

Can people be happy in turmoil?

Well, then what is the relationship between Happiness and Strength of Character?

How many War Romances have you read and enjoyed?  Happiness (maybe not of the ever after variety, but definitely happiness) can be triggered and even sustained in a war situation with explosions and falling debris at irregular intervals.

So it isn't always the external situation that determines if the happiness is an ever-after sort.

Maybe Soul Mates create happiness for each other, just because they are Soul Mates.

A "mate" is not a copy, not the same -- but complementary.  A mate is not an opposite so much as a "fill in the weaker spots" fit.

In the case of Strong Characters as defined by the idea of Character being the connection between Soul and Body, and strength being the leadership of the Soul over the Body (STRENGTH CARD IN TAROT).

Can a weak Character be Happy?

Can an un-mated Character be Happy?

There are probably as many ways to achieve Happiness as there are definitions of Character, Soul and Happiness.

Each definition of Happiness, Character and Soul, and every combination of the three, generates a Theme which is vast enough to support an entire novel series.

A "story of my life" is centered on the pivot point of the change in the main Character.

As noted above, in Science Fiction it is the matured Science-nerd becoming the Action-Hero -- in other words, balancing intellectual courage with animal courage, Soul-Body Integration becoming strong and firm.  Thus Science Fiction is about a Weak Character Becoming A Strong Character.

Romance genre is about the matured girl becoming the Emotion-Hero -- in other words, balancing intellectual courage with animal courage, "giving herself to a man."  The Soul-Body integration of the valiant woman, the committed warrior woman, "makes a man of" a mere male.

In both genres, the Character becomes stronger, more integrated Soul and Body, because of the external Events of the Plot.

However, in Romance genre, you must deal with 4 variables ( a Boolean Algebra ) like the 4 Letters of the Divine Name.

You have two Souls, and two Bodies, and all four of them must undergo some change to fit together and become a single, strong unit.

The process (story and plot) of growth and change can be very painful, very miserable and not at all happy.  Happiness, though, might well be defined as having grown -- having grown enough to be able to look back and see the former self as immature.

Both Science Fiction and Romance genres are about yearning, striving, and committing to a strike for freedom (from different things, but always becoming free is the goal).

So it could be that both Science Fiction and Romance are genres aimed at a readership that prizes Freedom as opposed to Power.

Power may be identified as "My Will Prevails Over Yours - Don't Bother Me - Get Out of My Way Or I'll Destroy You."

Neither Science Fiction nor Romance Lead Characters will abide oppression -- not being the oppressor, or being oppressed.  All the great novels in both genres have at their core a Character striving for Self-Determination.

Both genres define the "end" of the story as the point where the freedom to choose a path through life has been achieved.

Freedom of that kind is the definition of "being adult."

The five year old dreams of being allowed to "stay up all night" or "go to bed when I want to."  But once mature, and having done that a while in college, it is revealed not to be "freedom" at all, but irresponsible.  Maturity brings behavior altered by the perception that true Freedom is defined by discharging responsibilities.  One must sleep to perform well the next day.

Human Happiness is inextricably bound to Freedom.

Apparently, humans can't achieve Happiness without Freedom -- but it may be possible that Freedom itself does not induce happiness.  There might be such a thing as too much freedom, a kind of directionless life that stalls into misery for lack of responsibilities.

They say that the elderly need to feel needed (i.e. be responsible for someone or something), to survive the longest possible time.

Perhaps the HEA is the Freedom To Choose One's Own Responsibilities?

They say there is a price to Freedom, and that every generation must fight for it.

Yet, even a Slave (as in a person who is owned, bred, worked by someone else) can be Happy.

How can a Slave be happy without freedom?  Even from Biblical times, some have preferred to remain slaves even when given their freedom.  There is even a ceremony involving piercing the ear to make a person who chooses to remain a slave (when they don't have to) into a permanent slave.  That is a FREE choice, and could lead to an HEA for that Soul.

Perhaps Freedom is a matter of the Soul.  If the Soul is free to grow, mature, become better integrated with the Body, achieve the purpose of that Soul's incarnation, then being technically enslaved would not inhibit happiness.

But being abused (beaten, tortured, raped, whipped) would prevent most Souls from achieving the purpose of their incarnation.

So, Freedom may not be Happiness -- but most likely you can't achieve Happiness without some Freedom.  The type of freedom may differ from Character to Character and historical epoch to epoch, but some sort of Freedom is an essential ingredient in the HEA.

Now we come to the intersection between Romance and Science Fiction.  Freedom.

The typical Action/Adventure Science Fiction novel involves the Main Character facing some sort of threat, usually physical, which he or she averts by heroic action.  Space Wars, Invasions, Revolts, being lost in space or slogging across an Alien Planet -- the stakes are always somehow involved in keeping or achieving freedom of choice.  Faster Than Light travel is the freedom to colonize other planets.

Humans regard any threat to freedom as a menace.

In Romance, the Main Character faces some sort of restriction in choice of Mate -- being the Ward of a step-parent, being the heir who has to marry for peace for the Kingdom, the chosen is unsuitable (or downright Alien) or just no Mate material in sight anywhere, something prevents the freedom to choose a Mate, and heroism must avert that threat.  Happiness is consumption of that Mating by free will choice.

Then there are the Romances where it is not so much the free Will as the Body's Lust that makes the choice.  And there are the Science Fiction novels where the Hero is sent on a mission he would rather avoid.

All of these typically popular novels lead to an ending where Freedom To Choose is secured.

We all know that the price of freedom is mortal combat, and each generation must win their own freedom.  Freedom does not come as a gift.  It can't be inherited.  It must be bought by the sweat of your own brow.

Freedom to choose your Destiny is the essence of both genres. 

If you choose wrong, you may not be headed for an HEA but only an HFN.

The Science Fiction Romance writer has a unique opportunity to explain the HEA to the general readership as winning the fight for freedom - freedom from oppressive dictatorships, from government, from nosey neighbors, social peers, even parents and cultural traditions such as Religions enforced by government authority.

It can't be freedom from Authority, per se, because that is the goal of the villains.  It has to be freedom to choose which Authority to ally with -- not subject or subordinate to.  Equal-to-Equal is a Free relationship -- not subjugation.

As we noted in the brief over-view of Jack Campbell's universe of military science fiction stories, ...

...his Hero (who lives in two epochs of history of the galaxy separated by many years of cold sleep), Black Jack Geary, makes his early reputation fighting for the freedom of the new human colony he has just moved to.  He has a wife and child there, a commitment to a brighter future, and is living an HEA when a militaristic colony attempts a "takeover" of other colonies.

He fights for his family's life, prospects, and mostly freedom.

All military science fiction can be reduced to the simplistic term of a "fight for freedom."  What differs is the opponent, and the freedom to do what, and the tools the Hero fights with.  It doesn't have to be guns and space ships.  It can be sensors, analytic machinery, or even basic test tubes and centrifuges.

All Romance can be reduced to the simplistic term of a "fight for freedom" to choose one's own Mate.

Both genres are about striving for Freedom, and though it might be decades and many novels until it is achieved, Freedom is the Ending.

Freedom lasts through one generation's lifetime - then must be fought for again.

The fight for Freedom seems to be intrinsic in human nature.  And our thesis is that "human" is defined as a Soul welded to a Body (which definition could work just fine for Aliens who are not technically human).

That vision of human nature explains clearly why "freedom" must be fought for in each generation --  from the Body's point of view, the Soul is doing a "hostile takeover" of the Body, while from the Soul's point of view, the Body is striving to enslave the Soul.

All good fiction written by and for humans is driven by Characters with an Internal Conflict (Soul-Body conflict) generating the Story, which is projected or mirrored in an External Conflict generating the Plot.

Humanity's real life, real world, existence is the constant struggle between the animal nature of the Body and the spiritual nature of the Soul.

That struggle is the source for War -- from domestic disputes to Nuclear Holocaust, War is the animal need for dominance pitted against the Soul's need for Freedom.

Happiness, insofar as living humans can experience it, is at the balance point between the animal body and the spiritual soul.

Once achieved, that balance can be stabilized by a Soul Mate whose strengths complement rather than duplicate the strengths of the partner.  The child creates the very stable, very strong, triangle -- which is stronger than any mere pair can be.

Depict the steps necessary to stabilize a Character at that balance point between Freedom and Responsibility (Uranus and Saturn), and you may be able to lead skeptical Readers to suspend disbelief in the HEA long enough to enjoy some happiness.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg