Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Trouble With Memes

This week, this writer noticed that at least two legal blogs are warning about Memes.

For the purpose of this discussion, a meme is an image or short clip of video, to which a caption is added by someone other than the copyright owner of the image or short clip, and it is forwarded across social media by thousands with no regard to the copyrights of the copyright owner, or the moral rights of the subject of the image.

Meme enthusiasts would probably say that the use of the image is "transformative", or that the use is "fair", because the image is only half the work, and the text is the other half --which is not a definition of Fair Use-- or that it is commentary, or parody, or being used to disseminate news or opinion, or to educate.

Memes are like emoticons. They are a quick, convenient way for the inarticulate to spread someone else's expression of an opinion without having to think for themselves. To date, the re-tweeter has also been able to share the meme without any liability or responsibility.  That may change, even if copyright law explicitly protects parody, criticism, and pastiche.

Legal blogger Georgia Shriane for Boyes Turner LLP (specializing in European Law and UK law) warns that meme law is coming....

Lexology link:

The original article can be found here:

Even if the meme is protected, if content platforms use automation to filter out copyrighted images, the bots may not perceive the difference between "a good meme" and copyright infringement. That's not all.

See also, from 2017, commentary on a weeping athlete, with a question about the consequences if this meme is used for commercial advertising

Also, see the commentary by Claire Jones of  Novagraaf  for when memes are used gratuitously, with the sole apparent purpose of tormenting a public figure:

Or read it on Lexology...

The most ominous shot across the bows for meme sharers comes from legal blogger  Jordyn Eisenpress  writing for the law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein& Seltz PC  "Popular Meme Account Sued For Copyright Infringement And Other Claims.   

Read it on Lexology  (but beware, gentle readers: there is a very vulgar word as part of the defendant's twitter handle.)

Or find the very recent original here, (also including the shocking handle).

Apparently, meme enthusiasts in New York should take note, and be very careful going forward.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, March 28, 2019

What Makes Private Property Private?

Cory Doctorow's latest column explores the doctrine of "terra nullius" (nobody's land), which he traces back to John Locke's 1660 work TWO TREATISES OF GOVERNMENT:

Terra Nullius

Under this theory, private property is created by "a human taking an unclaimed piece of the common property of humanity and mixing it with their labor" to create something new, which then "belongs" to the creative innovator. The catch in this theory, according to Doctorow, is the problem of deciding what constitutes "unclaimed," "common property," or unimproved "nature." European colonizers, for example, viewed the lands of "primitive" people as available for settlement and exploitation because they weren't "owned" by any individual according to the Western concept of ownership—in an act of radical "erasure" of the indigenous peoples. As Doctorow puts it, if those lands belonged to nobody, the "primitives" who lived there must be "nobody."

How does this distinction apply to intellectual property? Doctorow summarizes the claim as follows: "The labor theory of property always begins with an act of erasure: 'All the people who created, used, and improved this thing before me were doing something banal and unimportant—but my contribution is the step that moved this thing from a useless, unregarded commons to a special, proprietary, finished good.'” One application he cites is the example of the Beatles. The R&B rhythms the Beatles incorporated into their music didn't count as owned; they were considered common property, available to anyone who chose to use them. On the other hand, if any musician nowadays takes recognizable elements of the Beatles' songs and incorporates them into new material, that's considered theft. How do we decide what's owned and what's free for use without acknowledgment or compensation? A similar phenomenon that occurred to me, not mentioned by Doctorow, is the 20th-century folk revival. Some folk musicians recorded traditional songs and copyrighted them, thereafter claiming ownership of the song (not simply of their particular arrangement of the song). Here's a forum thread discussing what elements of traditional songs can be copyrighted, as opposed to changes by individual singers that should be considered part of the "folk process" rather than private property:

Folk Song Collectors and Copyright

Two remarks in Doctorow's article that particularly struck me:

"The Ayn Randian hero is delusional: his (always his) achievements are a combination of freeriding on the people whose contributions he’s erased, and bleating that everyone who had the same idea as him was actually stealing his idea, rather than simply living in the same influences he had."

Here's how Doctorow applies this principle to authorship, using his own work as an example: "I wrote my books. They were hard work. I made real imaginative leaps that contributed to the field. Also: I wrote them because I read the works of my peers and my forebears. If I hadn’t written them, someone else would have written something comparable. All these things can be true. All these things are true. Originality exists, it just doesn’t exist in a vacuum."

In my opinion, that last sentence makes a valid and important point. Nothing in his essay, however, supplies guidelines on how to determine what creative elements qualify as "original" contributions that deserve protection as private property.

For example, here's an update about the ongoing lawsuit among Tom Clancy's estate, his widow, and his first wife over who gets to profit from past and future works featuring Clancy's character Jack Ryan:

Who Has Custody of Jack Ryan?

While I don't think anyone would deny that Clancy created and therefore "owned" Jack Ryan according to both ethical and legal principles, the question of who holds rights to the character after Clancy's death (or should the profits be split on some kind of chronological basis, depending on when the particular books or films were released?) is tangled up in a dense legal and contractual controversy.

Speaking of "commons," if we could trace back far enough, we'd find that every creative work was originally made by some individual or particular group of creators. It's just that once a work gets so old we can't identify the creator(s), we categorize it as "traditional" and part of the "common property of humanity."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Dark Matter TV Series

Dark Matter
TV Series

Just a quick heads-up about an old bit of entertainment making the streaming rounds.

Before they disappear it forever, do watch some of the episodes of Dark Matter.

Just a quick Google tells you:

Dark Matter (TV series) - Wikipedia
Dark Matter is a Canadian science fiction series created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, based on their comic book of the same name and developed by ...
No. of seasons‎: ‎3 Original release‎: ‎June 12, 2015 – August 25, 2017
No. of episodes‎: ‎39 (‎list of episodes‎) Based on‎: ‎Dark Matter series of comics

Yes, and the TV Series availability on various delivery systems, (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube etc. ) tells you more than you want to know about it.  They are still charging money for this series, so it should be around a while m
ore.  When it becomes free, it will be about to disappear. 

It is made from a comic, and the TV Series is mostly by the same people who created the Comic.  As a result, the fabrication is what I would term "thin" -- or screenwriters call "on the nose."

The Characters are formulated from a formula  -- not a hint of the USA channel's "Characters Welcome" quirkiness.  The quirks that are included (an android, a woman subconsciously imprinted with everyone else's missing memories, a tough guy, a martial arts guy, a boss woman) are formulaic.

So why should you look into it?  Because it seems to be aimed at early-teen or pre-teen boys -- the classic audience for science fiction.  If you are writing Science Fiction Romance, you have to shift the target audience, or broaden it.

The lack of dimensionality and nuance is what sells to that pre-teen boy audience.

But this TV series went 3 seasons and was cancelled.  Yes, it had fans, but not enough for the actually cheap production to cover costs.

Writers looking to create stories for an adult audience that is at least 50% female (if not more) can learn a lot about how to do that by studying this TV Series.

The signature of a genre resides in what must be LEFT OUT, much more than it does in what must be INCLUDED.

Consider last week's post on Theme-Conflict Integration and what that has to do with Character and Genre.

Dark Matter has one, tentative, embarrassing kiss in the first 3 episodes.  It has males and females confined in a space ship.  All the characters are portrayed as amnesiacs who were wanted for horrible crimes.

They have innate, trained skills -- but no existing Relationships among them.

Does Relationship depend on memory?

Is Character a function of memory? 

Is morality a function of memory? 

How important is memory?

Amnesia/Romance novels are not usually my favorite fare, but I've read a lot that were deep, revealing, thought-provoking and even funny and heart-warming.

Dark Matter is not a Romance in any sense.  It is way too thin for that. 

Watch some of it -- if not all -- and consider how to fundamentally change the story into a Romance.  You can use a similar plot (though it would morph if you shift the story-line), and tell the Love Conquers All story.

What has to be conquered?  A lifetime as a crook, mercenary, killer, kidnapper, felon.  How do you conquer that?  Amnesia wipes it out?  Or is there Soul level karma to be addressed first?

Can Love ignite and burn away sin? 

Does Love really Conquer All?

How can there ever be an ever-after, never mind a Happily Ever After? 

Dark Matter, as a TV Series, is what screenwriters (SAVE THE CAT!) call a "Bottle Show" (the setting is inside the bottle of the ship), and a "Monster In The House" story line, as the crew doesn't know if whoever swiped their memories is still onboard.

To me, the scripts seem like a class writing exercise rather than production drafts.

But that makes it like fanfic, something so transparent you can learn from it, learn to see yourself making the same errors, learn to avoid those errors.

With all those flaws, I have to add that I like Dark Matter better than I thought I would.  The flaws I see now would not have seemed like flaws to me when I was twelve.  Going off to find clues to who you really are is a teen thing. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Your Privacy

Your privacy is my problem. It is your problem.

Disclaimer: the authors who share this blog do not knowingly or intentionally exploit other peoples' data. We do not accept paid advertisements. We do not try to track visitors. However, our host does so. From time to time, we warn you about that.

Our host reminds us (the bloggers):
"European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used and data collected on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies, and other data collected by Google.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. If you include functionality from other providers there may be extra information collected from your users."

If you, dear readers, have the ability to go right now to check which "cookies" have dropped onto your device like deer ticks, you may see links to the participating authors' websites, and a whole raft of google urls. Clear them often. No one who monetizes "tracking" takes any notice of "Do Not Track" requests.

David Ruiz, blogging for Malwarebytes offers some helpful insights into data privacy and cybersecurity.

It's instructive reading, especially the part about the GDPR, and tracking, and collecting, and storing, using and sharing visitors' data.  Ruiz also points out what this author sees as an extraordinary loophole in Californian privacy laws. It's a "data breach" if a rogue actor actually downloads your data. If he just looks at it (presumably even if he looks at it and deploys pen and paper), it is not a data "breach". With a breach, the victim must be told, and offered a lifelock-like service for a year. If the rogue took a look, not so much.

And then, there's

In 2017, this author thought that she had successfully opted out of having her information monetized by Spokeo on Spokeo.  Then, she read "Spokeo Update..."

Legal bloggers Scott Kelly, David N. Anthony, and  Timothy "Tim" J, St.George blogging for the law firm Troutman Sanders LLP share insights into the Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuit that Spokeo almost three years after  the Supreme Court ruled that an individual who suffers no provable financial injury, but whose financial privacy was invaded... may sue.

Or the original

Is Spokeo selling guesstimates of your credit score? You should look into it. Even if they have a disclaimer that states that one may not use the information that they sell in order to decide if one wants to employ/lend to/rent to... or otherwise make a business decision about the subject of one's Spokeo search, a skeptic would wonder why anyone would pay $39 or whatever to discover information one will not --on one's honor-- use.

For the next three years, it ought to be relatively easy to opt out, if you do not want to be monetized on Spokeo "so lost relatives and friends can find you".

Another reason to opt out is that Spokeo may reveal --free, to all-- the names of your aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents, children, siblings.  Never chose family members' names as any of the answers to those double and triple verification questions that financial institutions may think are only known to the real you.

Happy hunting.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, March 21, 2019

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Last Wednesday through Saturday, the 2019 ICFA met in Orlando. As usual, it was wonderful to spend four days in Florida in March. Days were pleasantly warm, and the predicted off-and-on rain never appeared. The organization is considering changes to the date and/or location of the conference. For the first time, I attended the annual business meeting, just to hear the discussion on this issue and the results of the membership survey about it. I'm happy with the present set-up except for one point, the risk of airline delays in March. March in Florida falls in the "high season," with expensive hotel rates, so a change could save money and avoid rises in cost for members who couldn't afford to pay more. The long-time conference chair (about to retire from that role after thirty-five years—we'll miss him!) and his assistant presented a detailed explanation of the factors that go into hotel convention prices and the process of negotiating with hotels. Two major alternatives suggested were Toronto or a different venue in Orlando, with other choices also discussed. Naturally, no decision has been reached yet. The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) plans to send out another survey to get an updated sense of the membership's preferences now that more information has been supplied. Being naturally averse to change, I don't like the idea of leaving a pleasant location I'm used to, but I have faith that the IAFA officers will make the best decision for the majority. Like any change, of course, whatever happens will be good for some people and unfavorable to others, especially since U. S. residents, North Americans in general, and the smaller percentage of attendees from overseas all have different needs.

The Lord Ruthven Assembly—the vampire and revenant division of IAFA—presented its annual awards. The fiction winner was EUROPEAN TRAVEL FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN, by Theodora Goss. The nonfiction award went to I AM LEGEND AS AMERICAN MYTH, by Amy Ransom. For the first time, as far as I know, both winners were present at the Saturday night banquet to receive their recognition, which was quite a thrill. Since 2019 marks the bicentennial of John Polidori's "The Vampyre"—the first known prose vampire fiction in English, the story with Lord Ruthven as the enigmatic villain—we had a panel about the influence of that work. The theme of the con was "Politics and Conflict," so the panel nominally dealt with the politics of the characters' social status and relationships but in practice ranged more widely. At the LRA evening meeting, after the business portion we screened an obscure horror film, THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST, based on or at least inspired by Polidori's tale. Only an hour long, the movie was co-written by classic SF author Leigh Brackett (who also worked on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK). It was better than I expected, actually quite worth watching. It also contains more elements from "The Vampyre" than I'd expected from reading the Wikipedia summary; these include the vampire's "death" and revival by moonlight, the hero's inability to tell anyone about these events, and his being incapacitated with a fever while the vampire, who poses as a concerned friend, courts the heroine (in this case, the hero's fiancee instead of his sister as in the original story). In the most significant alteration, the movie takes place in equatorial Africa instead of Greece and England.

The author guest of honor, G. Willow Wilson, although also a novelist, is mainly known for her work in comics and graphic novels, especially MS. MARVEL. Her after-lunch speech on Thursday was lively and thought-provoking. She reminded us that comics have always had a "political" dimension, often invisible to both creators and audiences because of its mainstream nature. In the case of her work, though, because she isn't an Anglo male writer, her very existence in the field is regarded as "political" no matter how innocuous her content may be. She described a hate-mail electronic message she received, whose sender went to the trouble of printing every line in a different-colored font. She noted that the wildly successful MS. MARVEL was expected to last only about ten issues, because its heroine falls under the "trifecta of death"—a new, female, minority character. Wilson also raised the question of who "owns" a creative product—the fans, the writers, the publisher, the parent corporation?

Guest scholar Mark Bould, who has written extensively on science fiction, delivered the after-lunch talk on Friday. He remarked, "We need better stories," and highlighted the surge in zombie films in recent years. He characterized this trope as a "disastrous, dehumanizing, deadly story." Instead, he advocates for a narrative of "less work, more life." His theme was openly political, focusing on a "post-capitalist, post-scarcity" society that would produce luxury for all. I was especially struck by his statement about the role of speculative fiction in exposing what's thought to be "natural" and inevitable as contingent and making the supposedly "impossible" seem attainable.

One unique feature of this year's event: A display of memorabilia from the entire forty-year span of the conference. It was mildly mind-boggling to contemplate the modest programs of the earliest years contrasted with the book-sized directories of more recent conference programming.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Theme-Conflict Integration Part 6 - A Character Under Influence by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Theme-Conflict Integration
Part 6
A Character Under Influence
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts in this Theme-Conflict Integration Series are Indexed at:

One of the oldest story driving conflicts is termed, "Man against himself."  But of course, today, we read that as "Person against self," stripping it of sexual innuendo.

Women can oppose their own interests subconsciously, as well as men (maybe better!)

And of course non-humans might very likely be the same.

The most interesting non-humans would, of course, lack the ability to be their own worst enemy -- in many ways, Spock was originally depicted as such an alien.

So to depict a Romance between a human who can thwart their own interests and a non-human who lacks that trait (and thus doesn't really understand it), one must first examine the issue of "Internal Conflict" and how such a conflict is resolved to reader satisfaction.

Once the writer has a clean, easily expressed theory of how humans oppose themselves internally (and why, and when), then it becomes easy to design the Alien Soul Mate for the human main character.

Concocting a Science Fiction theory of human psychology has at least two main parts:

A) Name the two parts inside humans that could possibly conflict?

B) Name the part that wins.

We have extant theories of Conscious/Subconscious, Yin/Yang, and Body/Soul.

Maybe all of them operate simultaneously -- or maybe none of them are true, just useful approximations.

Choose which maybe you want to use for your Worldbuilding.

Yes, these 3 choices for the 2 parts of humans that cause inexplicable behavior (like falling in love, for example), define 3 separate and different "worlds" you can build.  They are elements of world building, and each defines a sort of "magic" that can (or can't) work in that world.

Humans have been striving to define "what it is" inside us that gives us such trouble, as individuals and whole societies, for thousands of years.

So choose (or invent) a dichotomy to insert into the axioms defining the world you will tell your story within, and then choose the Rules of Engagement -- how they fight, why, and to what end.

The most obvious and natural one for a Science Fiction Romance world is Body/Soul.

Romance is about the sweeping force that dissolves the personality's bonds to "reality" -- to the practical, the everyday, to responsibility (Saturn) and accountability (Mercury ruling Virgo).

People swept off their feet falling "in love" behave unrealistically (Romeo and Juliet), immaturely, or as if they are ignorant of the strictures of reality (an office affair between a Boss and a Janitor, when both are married-with-children).

Romance (Neptune) dissolves common sense, and makes everything and anything possible.  The mental "executive function" becomes paralyzed.  There's nothing inside, no self-discipline, that will stop you, and no awareness of how you will feel about or deal with the consequences.

You do what you want and to hell with the consequences.

That is a favorite excuse in Romance novels for having sex with an inappropriate (or forbidden) individual.

So when Neptune transits hit full force, igniting ferocious sexual urges between a couple, Neptune wins.  There is no internal conflict because the Executive Function of the personality is not functioning.


Thus the "irresistible hunk" story is not actually a story at all.  If the hunk truly is irresistible, there is nothing to oppose his advances, nothing there saying "no!"

Or vice-versa, a guy can run across a woman he can't resist.

But if he can't resist, there is no story to tell.

Story (and plot) are all about RESOLVING CONFLICT, so if there is no conflict there is no resolution, thus no satisfaction in reading about it.

So in a universe where humans are constructed with an internal dichotomy best expressed as Body/Soul, it is the physical (pheromones, physical arousal) of the Body that can (and often does) conflict with the spiritual fulfillment the Soul seeks.

You can use the "model" of Body vs. Soul to create Soul Mates whose bodies won't cooperate.

Romeo and Juliet is again a good analogy, as they were spiritually attracted Soul Mates born on opposite sides of a feud.  Hatfields and McCoys.  Israeli and Palestinian.

Throughout history there have been many political conflicts conquered by Romance.  Kings married their daughters to sons of the main enemies to settle disputes, and history records how many generations hence that settlement lasted.  Very few historical texts detail how the daughter-and-son actually felt about it.  Those novels are being written now.

The body can be born a non-human on some other planet (or space station) arriving at Earth's solar system carrying a Soul which is the Mate to a Soul born human on Earth.

Such a "love" has to conquer all the seething dynamics of First Contact, or worse, the ending of a long interstellar war.

Now we come to the Influence part.  If you choose Body/Soul as your world building dichotomy, then you must decide (sometimes by writing the whole book first) which "wins."  Or more broadly put, how the conflict resolves.

What are the options for resolving a conflict between civilizations?

Well, we have a pattern laid down for us thousands of years ago, which has repeated a few times, and may actually turn up again as we make a First Contact with non-humans.

The story is told in the Bible, and by Hollywood (Cecil B. DeMille), as THE EXODUS.

And the style of the conflict resolution writers can rip from this classic, is Persuasion.

As humans, pure physical bodies, basic primate species, we behave toward each other in a "dominance" pattern, always conquering, opposing, WINNING.  It's in video games, sports, politics, war.  You just have to win.  It starts in infancy with screaming until large hands bring relief.

Toddlers learn to insist until they get their way.  Toddlers learn that Might Makes Right because parents will oppose their insistence with forces the Toddler can't match (pick him up and just put him in the car seat.)

Sometimes, parents have the leisure to distract the toddler or just let the screaming exhaust him.  But the parent always wins.

Later, the parent may try persuasion, but by then the twig is bent and the tree growing robustly.

Basically, primates survive toddlerhood by having their Will overridden.  Toddlers who win the battle run out in the street and get run over by a car.  It happens.  All our toddlers would do that, given the chance.  Having that Will thwarted by Adults grabbing him up just teaches Might Makes Right.

After Toddlerhood, other lessons split our population into those who bend under force, and those who fight to the death.

Any given individual may choose (free will) either strategy, any combination, or invent a new one to try.

But in the end, how we influence each other comes down to a dominance exercise.  How do we get each other to behave properly?

Today's readership is swamped with discussions about violence and the use of violence.  The language of violence is used in News Headlines to describe mere words said to or about someone.  "...Ripped Into..."  "...blasted..."

This is all about one human forcing another to change an opinion or course of action.

In The Exodus story, we see 10 "plagues" (natural disasters, we'd call it today).  The conflict that makes this a "story" is between the Creator of the Universe and Pharaoh.  They vie for possession of a "people" -- the Jews.

Having granted humans "free will," the Creator first demonstrated the reason Pharaoh should release the Jews as that He was better at controlling Nature than Pharaoh's Magicians.  That went on for 5 plagues and Pharaoh tended to give in, but didn't change his opinion.  Then the Creator argued for 5 more plagues to persuade Pharaoh to change his own mind.  The Sages point out that we can learn from Pharaoh's eventual agreement that Persuasion works better than logical equations about brute force.

Of course, we also learn that Pharaoh sent chariots after the fleeing mixed multitude (which included a lot of Egyptians throwing in their lot with the winner.)  Their fate is depicted by Cecil B. DeMille even though Cecil got the "parting" of the sea wrong.

Nevertheless, original sources notwithstanding, all of your readers will probably visualize the Hollywood version of the parting of the sea and wipe-out of the chariots.  The general public has been persuaded.  The general public is under the influence of visual artists whose tools are limited.

The general public, your reader, does not fight that influence.

So, how does one Character exercise Influence over another in such a way that the influencer "wins?"

Which prevails, Body or Soul?

The human primate Body uses Force -- force of muscle, force of size, force of authority bestowed by Kings or Presidents, force of pheromones, force of intellect (strategy, tactics, blackmail), force of Power (I'll make you a star, or ruin your career).

The Body argues by making it abundantly clear that it is to your advantage to do something against your better interests.  Go along to get along.  Bend (as Pharaoh did) then snap back when attention is elsewhere.  Agree to anything under duress, defy later.

The Soul argues right and wrong, ethics, morals, living a Code of Conduct which is to the advantage of the Soul even when it costs the Body dearly.  The Soul adopts Causes, Crusades, Movements, Idealism, Aspirations.  But the Soul habitually Loves -- loves all humans, loves all Bodies, even when they are staunchly opposed to the Soul's purposes.

Which wins?

In Romance genre, including Science Fiction Romance, Love Conquers All is the basic theme, the tenet of all the worlds that belong to the genre.

Soul Mates always gravitate toward each other, like two magnets, snap!  Bodies have to accept that, even when it thwarts the body's purpose.  Souls win, if not in this life, then in the next incarnation.

Bodies, brains, minds woven of the stuff of this concrete reality often embrace "being influenced" -- which essentially means adopting the Group's prevailing opinion, agreeing with opinions shouted forcefully in public, accepting the opinion of "authority" or "experts" who know better than you do.

Souls, aware of being eternal, do not need to "fit in" to survive.  Souls strive and struggle to get their Bodies to live up to ideals, like a horse trainer "breaking" a horse -- or perhaps the wiser ones use less force and more persuasion, luring the physical body with physical pleasure as reward.

Souls resist Influence; Bodies seek it.

Humans have both a Soul and a Body welded inextricably to the physical world.  Any human will sometimes fight being Influenced, and other times adopt the Influencer's ideas as their own.  In other words, humans flip-flop between body and soul dominant.  Any given human might flip-flop on you at any given time -- and not be able to explain why they changed.

If you start a story in Chapter 1 with a Character succumbing to the Influence of another Character, the end of the last Chapter, the very last page, depicts the first Character throwing off that influence.

That is the innate structure of "story" -- short, medium or long -- the beginning is where the two forces that will conflict to generate the plot (to generate the deeds, motives, and Events) first come into contact.

Thus choosing your opening scene as the point at which one Character willingly adopts the opinion of another, you telegraph to the reader that Influence is the conflict.

The Theme is what readers read for, whether they know it or not.  The feeling of satisfaction at The End is powered by dawning comprehension of the Theme.

The master theme of Romance is Love Conquers All.  But it has many sub-themes - and in fact, almost any theme can be subordinated to Love Conquers All and still remain congruent to everyday reality.  I've never found a theme that can't fit Love Conquers All.

If the story opens with a Character Influenced by (an equal, a superior, Good, Evil), the story is about the gyrations necessary to fight off that Influence.

Once free, the Character may choose to adopt that same opinion, and might even become an Influencer disseminating that opinion.

But the story ends where the Character is free of Influence.

THEME: Humans must be free to choose.

THEME: Humans always choose wrong.

THEME: Humans can't be trusted to behave well.

THEME: Alien Values Are Better For Humans Than Ancient Human Values!

THEME: Non-humans are incompatible with humans.

THEME: Certain non-humans aren't so bad.

THEME: It's all right to be human.

THEME: It is not all right to be human.

Keep going to find your best theme that reveals the natural laws of your world and how those laws conflict or contradict each other, creating Characters who fight to exist in your world.

If the inner conflict is Body vs Soul, then the Themes can be fabricated from adages such as the proverbial, "If there are two wolves fighting inside you, which one wins?" "The one you feed the most."

So if you feed your Soul the most, practicing idealistic decision-making, then your Soul will dominate your body.  If you feed your body the most, indulging carnal appetites, then your body will dominate your soul.  Is that true in your fictional world?  Do your Characters have a choice which to feed the most?

In other words,
THEME: Humans are creatures of habit.
THEME: Humans rebel against habit, periodically.  (Uranus transit; mid-life crisis)
THEME: Humans prize freedom from the influence of other humans.
THEME: Humans prize the influence of other humans who (fill in the characteristic, sweet, kind, beautiful, rich, powerful...).

Always remember your THEME is what the main characters' thinking finally evolves into, not what they start out thinking when the conflict is joined, or before the conflict is resolved. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Scraping Your Face... Your Works

On March 12th, Eric Carter for NBC News revealed that IBM, and possibly others, are scraping social media sites for faces... to help Watson (presumably) to get really good at recognizing those faces.

If you have a Flickr account, your face may have been scraped.  Visit the NBC link to use their search tool to find out.

There's a small detail in the piece that caught my attention. Apparently, some academics think that they can freely use photographs that are released under Creative Commons. According to this writer's understanding of the Creative Commons system, Creative Commons licensed works (or photos) may be freely used but only on condition that full and proper written attribution is published with the works or photos.

Scraping works (and apparently encouraging users to "Upload")  is Ebook.Bike a seemingly scurrilous pirate site that has found a new host. It calls itself a "library", but libraries purchase the books that they loan out, and they pay for licenses to loan out ebooks. Libraries do not rip off authors, publishers and everyone in the writing and publishing ecosystem.

Members of the Authors Guild can use this form to send a takedown notice. Non-guild members might want to use this Google form to request that the links to their books are removed.

Another apparently bad actor is Open Library which tries to validate its behavior by making up a "premise" (CDL  aka "Controlled Digital Lending") even though other operations that have tried to apply first sale rights to digital works have lost in court, such as ReDigi.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, March 14, 2019


This week I'm at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, the annual gathering of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.


I'll report on the con next Thursday.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Worldbuilding From Reality Part 8 - Flamewars Over The Double Space

Worldbuilding From Reality
Part 8
 Flamewars Over The Double Space
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous posts in the series Worldbuilding From Reality are indexed here:

In the various series of posts discussing the Theme element in fiction writing, we peer closely at "reality" -- the reality of the writer, the reality of the reader, and even sometimes attempt to discuss Reality itself.

The writer's inescapable Reality is that The Essence of Story Is Conflict.

And without a story to tell, you don't have a novel, TV Series, or Game.  Yes, even video games, and very much tabletop board games, are all about story.  That's what the best Dungeon Masters do -- create a story framework for Characters to negotiate toward a goal.

The story framework is the plot, which relies on the problem, the stakes, and the obstacles to lay out the Character's path through the World.

But the Dungeonmaster relies on the Game's various manuals to layout the parameters of the World through which the Characters must travel, overcome obstacles (conflicts), and achieve goals.

The Romance writer, (of any sub-genre of Romance) has to create a World to cradle and showcase her story.

Even Contemporary Romance has to be written in an artificially created world.

Art is a SELECTIVE representation of Reality, not reality itself, and fiction is an art form.

Here is the index to Art and Craft of Story Posts

Dialogue is not speech recorded from reality, but words crafted to tell a story.  Dialogue is the illusion of speech, not speech itself. Dialogue is the selective representation of speech.

Here is the index to dialogue posts:

Likewise, the world that surrounds (and frustrates) your Characters is the selective representation of reality, not reality itself.

You, the writer, are the Selector.  You pick and choose, separate, combine, and even color or distort, the Reality of your reader to represent the reality of your Characters.

The fun of reading is in filling-in-the-gaps for yourself, in imagining the rest of the reality the Characters are embedded in, but which is depicted with a few, sparse, selected details, a Japanese Brush Painting suggesting a whole World behind it.

See the series of posts on Depicting different aspects of our generally shared Reality.

All of these choices, are selections you make either on the fly as you write the story, or prior to having the idea for a story, or while re-writing the mess you made by not outlining before writing (no, you don't have to write it down, but you do have to know the outline).

The selections are not random, any more than our objective Reality is composed of random elements.  We understand our world in terms of cause/effect pairs or sequences, and that view of reality does produce salutary results.

We understand that causes produce effects -- but we adamantly disagree over which action causes what effect.

That essential conflict is the essence of the story of humankind.

Very likely, we will find that conflict to be the essence of the story of Alienkind.

"When I do THIS, THAT happens."  Is it coincidence, probability, Miracle, or just that I'm special and it only works for me?

For an example from Reality, just try this experiment.  Go onto a Facebook Group full of writers, readers, professors, engineers and especially, teachers of English, maybe a few editors.  Start a fight (conflict) with a simple declaration about how to format a typed manuscript for publication.  Make sure some of your connections on the Group are over 50 years old, and some are twenty-something.

Stand back and watch the flamewars begin.  Everyone will back their own idea of which is "the right" way to do it.

The dynamic will emerge that is recognizable (to the world building writer - maybe not to others) as identical to the political battles in the headlines today.

Humans fight. That is the nature of humanity (which gives you a good idea how to create an Alien species for your protagonist's alien lover.)

When an issue arises which "must" be resolved this way, or that way, and the "wrong" way strikes at the core of self-image, existence, livelihood, or progeny, humans fight to the bloody death.

Sometimes, the issue which brings about the necessity of obliterating the opposing human is actually a trivial issue such as Double Space After Periods (or single space after periods.)

Sometimes the issue is actually existential -- such as who commands and directs the collective Power of the Group (and thus over the Group.)

The Group can be a Couple (a marriage in which the question is who wears the pants), a family (where the children don't get a vote about moving to live on another planet), a town (where the homeless can't vote on sewage treatment options), a County, State, Country, or maybe the whole Earth (where we can't vote on another country's fossil fuel usage regulations).

Actually, it doesn't even take two people to make a fight.  All good stories are about how the Main Character's internal conflict manifests in the Character's external situation.  That is, stories are about the CONNECTION between our internal, psychological, emotional reality and our external, "objective" reality.

We (humans, anyway) are all at least two (maybe 7 or 9) people inside, a lion and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.  We love stories where the underdog (lamb) wins because we all can (but don't want to) see ourselves as the lamb.

Or maybe, sometimes, the same human has two wolves fighting for control inside -- which will win? The one the human feeds the most.

So we invent flamewars over trivia, such as whether to double space after sentence end-punctuation.

The reader may know the issue dividing the Characters, is trivial.  It is your job as a writer to lure the reader into suspending disbelief that these Characters could fight to the bloody death over two spaces.

Your job as a writer of Fantasy-Romance, taking place in an invented world, is to convince the reader that the issue is truly a matter of life or death, truly huge.  It's not that difficult a task.  Just remember, most of your readers live in a world where Causes produce Effects -- they are linked.

If you make one choice - this happens.  If you make another choice, that happens.

We believe that linkage is firm, reliable, predictable, and all you have to do to arrive at the Happily Ever After is choose the action that will have the HEA as a consequence.

Once a human has acquired a firm notion of how actions have consequences, the process (or formula) for understanding the world is inscribed in the brain's synapses.

We become inflexible with age, as we loose the ability to produce new brain cells and new synapses.  In truth, MRI can reveal how the brain shrinks with age, leaving a larger and larger gap between skull and tissue.

Or put another way, the old adage, "As the twig is bent; so grows the tree," is absolutely true of humans.  Science fiction is written by absorbing that truth, and asking, "But what could change it?"

Today, the vast majority of your readers have been "bent" to believe in cause-effect as a law of Nature.  But there is little consensus over how a cause inevitably produces a specific effect.  We know effects are reproducible -- so we are content to "make things happen."

If you put two spaces after end-punctuation, your manuscript will look "old fashioned."

If you put one space after end-punctuation, your manuscript will look illiterate.

Which effect do you want to cause?

No wonder the question produces flamewars, fights to the death over what is "right" and what is "wrong."

The audience I outlined above will "polarize" along age lines more than profession or experience lines.

And they will fight over what is acceptable, and how it looks, and the fact that old people who refuse to accept new things are in the wrong because all new things are right.

Yes, that generational conflict over NEW was fought when I was a child, and again and again ever since.

What you never see in the double-space controversy unless I'm in the discussion is the REASON why double-space is correct while at the same time single-space is also correct.

That's right -- two mutually exclusive conditions can co-exist.

A single thing can be both right and wrong at the same time.

With double-space issue, it goes like this:

When linotype machines cast lead into letters on the fly and deposited them in "galleys" (frames with clamps to hold the type) to make a book page that could be printed, every published manuscript had to be copy-typed by a typesetter.

The typesetters didn't READ the book, and weren't allowed to make any changes. If they made an error, the editor and original writer would send back the "galley proofs" with markup to fix it.

To aid the typesetter in copying correctly, end-sentence punctuation was followed by TWO SPACES.

Another reason TWO SPACES were absolutely necessary is that typewriters could only do fixed-font, every letter and space exactly the same size.  (a bunch of gears, not a program)

The typesetter would SEE the sentence end, and hit a key that put in a ONE-AND-A-HALF slug, producing a space in the printed document (a blank, a space-holder).

The printed book (just like today) has one-and-a-half spacing after end punctuation if done by a desktop publishing program that has that option.

It helps the reader not get distracted by losing their place if you distinguish between sentences.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: both sides of the argument are correct.

We need MORE space after end-punctuation to read intelligibly -- but we don't need TWO WHOLE spaces!

The change is simply moving to electronic files, publishing is now done by word processor and desktop publishing software that automatically translates double-space to one-and-a-half.  The software does what the typesetter used to do (justifying lines; adjusting letter spacing), but the software does not need the double-space to prevent reading errors.

So while the double space is perfectly acceptable in a submission to a publisher, it makes no difference in the published text.  It gets automatically obliterated.

The single space after end-sentence-punctuation likewise gets automatically translated to the amount of space the publisher requires.  The single space, likewise, gets obliterated.

In the end, the publisher decides the font, size, and translation rules -- not the writer.

CONFLICT RESOLVED -- it simply does not matter because nobody but the writer, editor, and copyeditor will ever see it.

If you are self-publishing, just pick a good desktop publisher program and it'll take care of appearance.

So both sides win the argument.

That's an HEA to a hot-diggity Romance plot.

If conflict is the essence of story -- then it follows that conflict resolution is the essence of the HEA.

Study the flamewars, beat-downs, and pile-ons you see on Twitter or Facebook, and how gangs will gather to destroy another poster's reputation or enthusiasm for speaking in public.  Look at the white-heat of emotion appropriate for a fight-to-the-death being used on an issue which is not properly defined on either side.  Notice how usually there are no sides, no either/or, no zero-sum-game, yet humans seem compelled to triumph, to win, to obliterate an existential threat where there is none.  Probe the nature of humanity, then ask yourself what tiny change would make Aliens A) loveable, B) incomprehensible, C) a serious threat.

How do you resolve a conflict with Aliens if you can't resolve a conflict over the double space?

You don't have a novel if you don't have a conflict.  But if you don't have a conflict resolution, you don't have a novel.  You might not have to know the resolution before you've written the book, but it takes months, even years, off the writing time if you do know the resolution (or at least a few to choose among.)

Take for example my Vampire Romance, THOSE OF MY BLOOD.

While writing it, I didn't know the resolution of the Father/Son Vampire conflict. I knew who had to die, and why, but not by whose hand or how.  Heading for an HEA for the two protagonists, I knew who could not kill whom.  I was really stuck for weeks.  I think it worked out as poetic justice, but that is yours to judge.

And its sequel, DREAMSPY (about a galactic ecological war where love conquers):

There's a lot more to be said about conflict resolution and the craftsmanship required to keep the reader's disbelief suspended.  Meanwhile, practice creating conflicts from the historical changes over the generations in your well built new worlds.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The Importance Of Being Registered

The Supreme Court has spoken with unanimity. If a copyright owner wishes to sue, they must first have the copyright of the work registered with the Copyright Office.

Additionally, if a copyright owner prevails in court, "full costs" don't necessarily mean "all costs".

Legal blogger Jonathan Hudis, writing for Quarles & Brady LLP, analyses the ruling, and the costs that even successful litigants may no longer hope to recover unless Congress writes new laws, in Copyright Lawsuits: Harder To Bring, Harder To Collect.


It's an important article.

For another thoughtful perspective, read The Supreme Court Weighs In On Copyright Matters - A Costly Decision And A Registration Requirement, by Eversheds Sutherland LLP legal bloggers Ann G. Fort,  Robert D Owen, and Anna C. Halsey.


The bottom line for authors is, register your work as early as possible, definitely before it is published or distributed in any form to any one.  

Authors playing catch up should be aware that it costs around $35 to register a single work, but that single work may only include the title, the copyright page, the work itself.  It is more expensive if the work contains promotional "back matter" such as a list of other works, or a preview chapter of another book.  On the other hand,  an author may register several her unpublished works as a group.

For something completely different, Artists Rights Watch discusses the collateral damage ( ie the creators and copyright owners) when tech giants indulge in a food fight amongst themselves.

It's reminiscent of what happened when a publisher rebelled against Amazon contracts, and Amazon allegedly blocked sales of books by authors published by that publisher!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Orville

Do you watch THE ORVILLE? Now that I've caught up with all the episodes to date, I'm still not sure how successful it is at what it tries to do. It begins as an affectionate parody of STAR TREK and gradually becomes more serious, grappling with some delicate issues, exploring character development, and going to a very dark place in the double episode of the past two weeks. As much as I like the show, I wonder whether its funny and serious sides fit together or clash. (Note: There will be spoilers here.)

The jokes sometimes verge on slapstick. For instance, the advanced sentient artificial life-form, Isaac (the Spock or Data character in the cast), gets into the spirit of learning about practical jokes by cutting off a human character's leg (painlessly, in sleep). This incident barely escapes being horrific by the fact that the medical technology of that century is so advanced that the character will have a new leg within days. The pop culture references come almost exclusively from the twentieth century, a detail that doesn't bear scrutiny. Wouldn't the characters show more interest in and awareness of such things from their own era? Most glaring is the Krill (the Klingon equivalent in this universe) deity's name—Avis, the subject of many jokes. Would the average person four hundred years from now have even heard of a twentieth- to twenty-first-century car rental company? Likewise, the incident when Bortus has a change of heart about his female offspring after watching RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is cute and rather touching, but it takes generous suspension of disbelief to accept that RUDOLPH would become a classic still popular with general audiences four centuries in the future.

Several features of the show similarly seem to follow the "Rule of Funny" with little or no concern for plausibility. For instance, Bortus allegedly belongs to an all-male species (with rare, taboo exceptions) that urinates only once a year and lays eggs. With no indication that the writers thought out the implications of these traits in advance, I can only conclude Bortus's kind must be desert-dwelling reptiles. The brief glimpse of his planet, when he returns home for his annual urination ceremony—obviously inspired by Spock's return to Vulcan in "Amok Time"—shows a desert-like landscape. In the incisive, timely episode about a planet ruled by positive and negative social media votes, a senior crew member gets the landing party in trouble by fooling around with a statue of a cultural heroine. As his own superiors point out, he should have known better, yet the audience has to accept that an experienced officer with a record good enough to justify his assignment to a delicate mission would behave so irresponsibly. Even in the more serious moments, dedicated SF fans may notice weaknesses. In one episode, two members of a first-contact party get sentenced to an internment camp because they were born under the wrong astrological sign. Wouldn't it be obvious to a society advanced enough to attempt communication with interstellar life that constellations look different from different planets, so it's meaningless to assign their astrological signs to inhabitants of a distant solar system? And even if their taboos prevented their accepting the stigmatized visitors, wouldn't it make more sense simply to ban them from the planet? As for the dark, emotionally wrenching double episode about Isaac's world, didn't the builders of the AIs consider the probable consequences of creating potentially sentient robots? If the builders had no qualms about trying to enslave the robots once sentience emerged, why weren't the artificial life forms programmed with the equivalent of the Three Laws to begin with?

I'm very taken with this series, but in my opinion it would be even better if it didn't look as if the writers were making up things as they go along, tossing in anything that seems entertaining at the moment. That said, the balance between silly and plausible appears to be shifting in a favorable direction, and after the final two episodes of the second season, I'll be eagerly waiting for the third.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration: A Stitch In Time

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration
A Stitch In Time
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous posts in the Theme-Worldbuilding Integration Series are indexed here:

Posts with two or more skills plus Integration in the title are about "walking and chewing gum" or multi-tasking, orchestrating and co-ordinating the separately studied skills of novel construction and writing (and reading).

In posts titled Theme - we examine the conscious and unconscious assumptions about the nature of reality, our subjective impressions of reality, our civilization's standards of thinking-feeling-believing, and what the writer of fiction, especially Romance and all sub-genres of it (Science Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Alien Romance) can add to humanity's sum total of knowledge about humanity (and aliens).

Aliens are the focus of this blog, romance, love, appreciation, admiration, awe, and fear of Aliens is the emotional content of these posts on Theme.

Today let's look at an overview of the headlines from 2018, which I've collected in an ephemeral web page collection (they delete "old" items before I'm ready) presented by Clipboard.

My magazines are listed here - and you can "follow" them on a Flipboard account (free).

And here is the link to the magazine I'm talking about in this post, today.

Is one of my "magazine" collections of items found around the web -- it is a collection of news items on archeology, paleontology, history, current science, space exploration, astrophysics, and any other (apparently) unrelated topic.

When you stitch "time" together into a fabric -- where humanity has been, where it is now, where it is going -- you "world build" a background for your Characters.

Which items you select from a collection (which I presume you will make on Flipboard or some other service) to stitch together will determine your theme -- or alternatively, after you've determined your theme, you will go find items that enlarge your perception of that issue.

Fiction, especially any Science based speculation with human Characters, is a discussion, a conversation among many writers publishing contemporaneously, and readers -- who may be reading in the far future.

These conversations, a cacophony of noise produced by groups circling and yelling at each other over the sound of other such groups, a cocktail party room full of conversations, contain our past and create our future.

That has become plain recently as backlist science fiction is being read on Kindle and e-book by younger people who don't remember the years those books were first published -- or the condition of the world when they were published.

Thus we have large groups bristling at the song, BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE, (a perfectly innocent song about the reasons why we bother to establish relationships of spirit to spirit, as well as body to body).  Those offended consist of two main groups -- those who remember the abuse that song is based on, and those who remember those behaviors as non-abusive.

So the THEME might be: There were many good people way back then who were not sexist.

Suppose your THEME contained the assumption (unchallenged in the plot) that reincarnation is real, and happens (all the time; or in special cases).  Suppose your plot focuses on Near-Death experiences and experiments deliberately creating and recording such experiences.

Lots of articles appear from time to time to be stitched together to build a World where  Characters involved in trying to determine the "truth" or to demonstrate a "truth" they "know" to be real.

A quick read-through gives you the picture of a future time where this issue is settled, and not a matter of resistance or controversy.  Everyone assumes it to be so, just as today everyone assumes DNA is real.

How would Characters in that World you Built around Reincarnation find their Soul Mates?  Would it take a near-death-experience to "know" who you once were, and therefore whether this new Love of Your Life is your Old Soul Mate?

In 2018, publicists were paid to bring the old topic of VIBES (from the 1960's) to the surface of popular-science-media ––– "popular science" being mostly unrelated to laboratory science that requires math to understand.

Study how certain topics are chosen among all topics to be promoted by publicists.  Study the world of the "Press Release" (various online sources) where individuals can write up a press release about anything they've done. Literally thousands of these items flood media editors and writers mailboxes every day (in fact ever hour).  Which ones get chosen, and why?

To bring a topic up to where many news outlets choose to do an article (pay a writer to read up and write; pay editors to edit what got written, pay the publishing costs for the website, pay for graphics because you've got to have a picture even if it doesn't explain anything), costs a lot of money.

Check out this article surfacing "Vibes" -- the graphic is just artwork, but it cost money to make, and to get the rights to publishing in a for-profit operation.  Yet two large publishers (independently?) decided to choose this one topic from among the thousands of Press Releases - both at the same time.  How did that happen? On merit? On personal phone calls from publicists?

That's why most press releases written by an individual who is involved in the Event and therefore thinks him/herself news-worthy are ignored by for-profit news outlets.

It costs a lot to "get a topic" to the top of the press release stack.  You can tell how much money went into pushing a topic up the ladder by how many outlets cover that topic within a narrow time frame.

Spotting promoted topics is a necessary skill to stitching time together into a World you can Build around a THEME.

Theme is a good, solid foundation for building a World.  But it works the other way, too.  Our World is a good, solid foundation from which to build a THEME.

Then there are all the classic themes about Robots, and Artificial Intelligence.

Star Trek (ToS) introduced us to "Captain Dunsel" (when Kirk became useless on an experimental shakedown cruise for an AI Captain).

Just as with random citizens physically attacking "self-driving" Waymo cars in the Phoenix-Tempe Arizona area for fear of malfunctions, so Star Trek in the 1960's presented us a failure of an AI Captain.

Other science fiction has pointed out the horror of successful AI.

The TV Series (Netflix Original) TRAVELER depicts the results of an AI in the far future over-populated, failing Earth sending human consciousnesses back to our time to tweak Events so that their world becomes sustainable.

Both these speculations have common THEMES.

THEME: FRANKENSTEIN -- what we build comes alive (ensouled?) and turns against us.

THEME: What we build saves us.

THEME: Whatever we build, it will malfunction just as we, ourselves, do.

So we've seen a lot of articles on the Internet of Things, and AI, and self-driving vehicles, in 2018 and I expect into 2025.  These articles appear in spates, and seem to have promotional money behind them worldwide.

Of course, no amount of promotional money could make them "go viral" as they do. The topic itself is gripping -- and therefore of use to fiction writers who have something to say about it (pro or con).

Then we come to Elon Musk's wild visions -- like colonizing Mars. Somebody is going to DO IT -- government, corporation, idealistic religious group, refugees, escapees from AI driven world, -- whoever it is will die, a lot, just as those who colonized the Americas (north, sound and central).  Maybe Mars won't have natives who fight back, but there will be many dangers beyond failure of technology and human ineptitude and rivalry.

Way back before, thousands of years before, the 1700's saw colonization of the Americas, people drifted and pushed down from the bridge into Alaska and down through North America all the way to the south of South America.

Another topic being pushed by money is how Archeologists are currently using DNA and new evidence of carbon layers (in stalactites in a Chinese cave) to follow the dispersion of humanity over this globe.

Early human dispersals within the Americas
J. Víctor Moreno-Mayar1,*, Lasse Vinner1,*, Peter de Barros Damgaard1,*, Constanza de la Fuente1,*, Jeffrey Chan2,*, Jeffrey P. Spence3,*, Morten E. Allentoft1, Tharsika Vimala1, Fernando Racimo1, Thomaz Pinotti4, Simon Rasmussen5, Ashot Margaryan1,6, Miren Iraeta Orbegozo1, Dorothea Mylopotamitaki1, Matthew Wooller7, Clement Bataille8, Lorena Becerra-Valdivia9, David Chivall9, Daniel Comeskey9, Thibaut Devièse9, Donald K. Grayson10, Len George11, Harold Harry12, Verner Alexandersen13, Charlotte Primeau13, Jon Erlandson14, Claudia Rodrigues-Carvalho15, Silvia Reis15, Murilo Q. R. Bastos15, Jerome Cybulski16,17,18, Carlos Vullo19, Flavia Morello20, Miguel Vilar21, Spencer Wells22, Kristian Gregersen1, Kasper Lykke Hansen1, Niels Lynnerup13, Marta Mirazón Lahr23, Kurt Kjær1, André Strauss24,25, Marta Alfonso-Durruty26, Antonio Salas27,28, Hannes Schroeder1, Thomas Higham9, Ripan S. Malhi29, Jeffrey T. Rasic30, Luiz Souza31, Fabricio R. Santos4, Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas32, Martin Sikora1, Rasmus Nielsen1,33,34, Yun S. Song2,33,35,†, David J. Meltzer1,36,†, Eske Willerslev1,37,38,†
 See all authors and affiliations

Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, eaav2621
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2621

Lots of people, worldwide, are participating in the effort to find out what happened thousands of years ago.

In Science Fiction Romance, we look for what will happen thousands of years hence.

Stitch the past to the future, via the present -- select just certain developments and explain how those developments are connected -- and you have THEME-WORLDBUILDING INTEGRATION.

Which archeological events, and theories explaining them, you choose defines your theme which is a statement about the nature of Reality.

If Reincarnation is real, who today lived during that first push down into the Americas?

Who were their Soul Mates, and what difference did their love make then?  Are they both incarnated now, and what difference will their Love make in today's world, and the future?

Stitch the past to the present to the future, one Romance at a time.

If Love does indeed conquer all (the prevailing theme of all Romance genre stories), then Love conquers TIME as well, and you get another swing at the prevailing problems of humanity when you reincarnate.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Faking Reviews Matters

Every author wants 5-Star reviews, on Amazon, on EBay, and elsewhere. Amazon tries to remove reviews that it deems to be fake (often in the process unfairly removing legitimate reviews), and sometimes it gets faked out, even by its verified purchasers/reviewers.

Two legal blogs reported on the first shot across the bows:

"Thinking of Purchasing 5 Star Reviews? Think Again!"advises legal bloggers Phyllis H. Marcus and Emily K. Bolles for law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.

Also, legal blogger David O. Klein for law firm Klein Moyniham Turco LLP   discusses the same potential of a $12.8 million dollar settlement.

The FTC investigates fake reviews by an allegedly verified Amazon reviewer who was  allegedly paid to counter negative reviews posted by fans of a rival product by posting postive reviews of the product in question.

The stakes were high because the alleged work of fiction in question concerned the efficacy or otherwise of a weight loss supplement.

Soliciting "likes" is not much different from soliciting dishonest reviews.

Writing for law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP, legal blogger Aaron P. Rubin discusses the declaration that fake "likes" are illegal.  It is unlawful to sell fake followers, fake likes, or fake views... (and presumably fake reviews).

Part of the fault for dishonest reviews lies with the companies or buinesses that put such stock in a "Like" or its equivalent on Facebook or  Google or Ebay that they pressure their vendors and salespersons to pester customers for likes or 5 star reviews (but nothing less than a 5 Star).

A certain Doors and Windows company does this to my knowledge, so one cannot trust reviews of at least one doors and windows company's products or salesmen.

Many authors use Pinterest, so may be interested to know that an IPO is in the offing.

Also, social media extortion is "a thing", so if anyone asks you for money or property in return for removing negative misinformation about you (or your works) that they have posted on social media, they may be punished by 5 years in prison or a maximum fine of $10,000.  Good to know!

Another link of interest for newbie authors wishing to avoid being exploited:

All the best
Rowena Cherry