Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it today!

This will be the first Thanksgiving weekend since sometime in the 1990s when we won't be attending Chessiecon (formerly Darkover). That's because it went on hiatus this year while preparing to move to a different hotel in 2020 (still in the Baltimore area). I'll be sorry to miss it this weekend. On the plus side, we'll get to participate in the first Sunday of Advent at our church, which usually conflicts with the con. There's always an Advent-wreath-making session, which we enjoyed when our sons were little.

Here's a page with some background and interesting facts about Advent:

Advent Explained

It explores the way customs surrounding Advent, like those associated with Christmas, have been embraced by large numbers of Americans who aren't religiously observant. Clever marketing has expanded the family fun of the season in directions I hadn't heard of before. For quite a few years we and our kids opened daily windows on Advent calendars to reveal pieces of chocolate candy. We also had one that told the story of Dickens' CHRISTMAS CAROL day by day. Many calendars, though, follow unusual themes or dispense other kinds of treats. A FROZEN Disney Advent calendar should be expected, I guess. But how about a Star Wars LEGO Advent calendar? And for adults—designer nail polish? Whiskey?

These phenomena aren't too surprising, considering the millions of Americans who celebrate holidays such as Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, etc., without reference to their religious roots.

Thanksgiving, in a way, is the ideal holiday for a secular, multi-cultural society. Almost everyone can enjoy a feast and be grateful to somebody for something. Surely when we venture out beyond this planet, we'll take a similar festive occasion with us.

Best wishes!

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Mysteries of Pacing Part 7 - Art of Persuasion

Mysteries of Pacing
Part 7
Art of Persuasion
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous entries in the Mysteries of Pacing series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 - where we discussed the TV Series Outlander

Part 4 Story Pacing

Part 5 How Fast Can A Character Arc?

Part 6 - How to Change a Character's Mind

As previously noted in this series, each genre has its own preferred pacing. When an editor calls for "fast pacing" it is relative to the genre in question, not an absolute measure.

We have previously defined "action" as "rate of change of situation."

Pacing is more than action.  Pacing is more than "what happens next," or how few words come between what is happening now and what happens next.  What "happens" is plot.  Pacing includes the plot's links to the story.

We use the term "story" for the Character's internal conflict progressing to a resolution, and the word "plot" for the Events the Character's actions and decisions cause to hurtle toward a resolution of the external conflict.

Terminology varies across texts on writing craft, but all writers and editors (even marketers) search for and identify these two elements, plot and story, in any piece of fiction.

Pacing Mysteries lie in the interlinkages between plot and story, in what the Character wants but doesn't have, what the Character does to topple the dominoes of his life and start the plot rolling, and what the Character learns from the events caused by that toppling.

This interlinkage effect is why there is so much confusion about Plot and Story, and why they are used interchangeably as if they refer to the same thing.  The truth is, they are the same thing -- a LIFE in FLUX.

Both plot and story are integral parts of your THEME, and the world you build to showcase your story is constructed on your THEME.  Theme is what you want to say about the form, shape, and dynamic change, of the relationship between Plot and Story.

How a Soul interacts with Reality, and what to do to cause which result, and why even bother trying, are the warp and woof, the very substance of the relationship between Plot and Story.

The Plot is "the story of this life."  The meaning of this Character's life is the story, and that story fuels the plot (because people do things to make their life go as they prefer).

Take for example, finding your Soul Mate.  How do you do that?  How do you choose what to do to make that discovery happen?

What actions lead to finding your Soul Mate reveals something so fundamental about the structure of the universe that science hasn't dug down to it yet.

A Soul is a spiritual concept, and so far science can't even determine if such a thing exists, never mind what it is and how it interacts with reality.

From time immemorial humans have KNOWN all about Soul and the Meaning of Life.

Science investigates these questions, refutes Ancient Wisdom for decades, and eventually comes around to confirming at least the general idea if not the details.

Right now, science is in hot pursuit of how the brain works.  We looked at a scientific study of the brain which reveals little or no difference in the areas of the brain activated during sexual arousal in men and women.

But people, being people (your main audience) already know, without doubt, that men and women respond differently to different cues in flirting, foreplay, and hot flying.

There are many other things people know, without doubt, that science disagrees with.  Yet at the same time, Ancient Wisdom and some classic writings, agree with your audience's position on the matter.

One stable opinion that lasts generation after generation, derived from personal observation, is how very stubborn people are about their opinions and ideas.

People do change their minds -- people can be persuaded.  A whole math based science has arisen around methods of changing the behavior of large groups of people.  It's called Public Relations (PR) and we've discussed it under many topics here.  It is how we change minds about who to vote for, or what breakfast is most healthy.

Everyone knows it's expensive to launch a product (or book) because of how long it takes and how many times a person has to see a message from apparently different sources before it will be accepted as true.

Novel readers work the same way. They will accept that a Character has plausible reason to change behavior or opinion (the great pivot to "I love you!") if there are enough iterations of the message that finally "gets through" during the novel.

There is an ancient science called Rhetoric that was developed to persuade people on a logical level.  But you can't reach the "Happily Ever After" ending and make readers believe it is possible if a Character is convinced they have found their Soul Mate only on a logical level.

On the other hand, without a logical level, there is no conviction either.

You need both the emotional and logical levels in the Main Character to finally come match each other, to say the same thing to the Soul.  That moment, when mind and emotion come to the same conclusion for the first time, is the resolution of the Internal Conflict, and thus the end of the Story.  The Plot should end on the same page.

Here is an article indicating how observation of human behavior has fairly well penetrated the fog and revealed exactly how life works.

Your readers know all this, whether they've read this article or not, so use that knowledge to convince them your Characters are real people -- because your Characters succumb to persuasion just like real people do.

Reviews of a novel will complain of cardboard characters or thin plotting - but the actual problem from the writer's point of view is that the story is not related to the plot in a form, method, or manner that the reader can recognize as real.  Pacing is all about revealing, explaining and arguing for your worldbuilding element that delineates the relationship between people and their lives.  "What does she see in him?"  "What does he see in her?"  "What did she do to deserve this?"  "What did he do to deserve meeting her?"

The answers to those questions have to be derived consistently, precisely, and absolutely from the Theme in order to convince readers to suspend disbelief and enter your fantasy world, take a spin in your flying saucer.

And don't forget con-artists do this all the time, artfully.  A con artist Character makes a great foil for a Hero.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, November 24, 2019

What's In A ... Face?

Much ado about...  faces is my takeaway from this week's legal (and copyleft activist) blogs. Not that "faces" equate to nothing. Far from it. And there's a lot of  facial violation going on.

Facebook is doing it. Amazon is doing it. Bad actors in the advertising world are doing it. EFF would like you to worry, and they may be correct (but never right!).

Electronic Freedom Foundation policy analyst Matthew Guariglia highlights how bad Amazon's Ring is, especially for passers-by whose faces are caught up by a Ring-using household's surveillance device and shared for all time with the police without their knowledge or consent and without a warrant or probable --or improbable-- cause.

Nathan Sheard, also writing for the EFF,  has a follow up, calling for an About Face protest.

Legal blogger Sean C. Griffin, writing for Dykema-Gossett PLLC, discusses a class action lawsuit against Facebook's facial recognition technology, which matches up faces in their database with unidentified faces in uploaded photographs, and suggests "tags" to link the photograph to the person allegedly identified by Facebook as being in the photograph.

The question is, does a person need a concrete injury in order to sue Facebook?

Perhaps eventually, Facebook will misidentify someone in the background of an uploaded photo of what turns out to be a crime scene, and then the proverbial cat will be among the pigeons.

Meanwhile, the British grocery chain Tesco got itself into hot water when it relied on a Getty image license for a photograph of a celebrity.

Hallam Whitehead, writing for Virtuoso Legal, discusses the issues at stake when commercial use (as in advertising) is made of a celebrity's face without her knowledge or permission.

Authors who want a celebrity on their cover art need to obtain a model release from the model in addition to a copyright license from the photographer.

There have been advertising campaigns that have tried to "get around" the problem of a perfect but reluctant celebrity by using lookalikes.

Legal blogger Barry M. Benjamin, for Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton LLP lays out  the issue of "false endorsements" and what can be done about it.


Also, author Po Yi, blogging for Manatt Phelps and Phillips LLP describes what Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres are doing to fight the pernicious problem of  "Celebrity Endorsement Theft".

This may not seem like it would affect us, but if we were to come across a photograph of a major influencer reading a paper copy of one of our books, a temptation would arise, wouldn't it?  Get permission!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

PS. For our European readers, please check your caches. The authors of this blog do not intentionally track you, but Amazon, Facebook, Google and many others do so.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Good Art, Problematic Creators

Cory Doctorow's latest LOCUS column discusses the renaming of the John W. Campbell Award. We might also mention (although Doctorow doesn't) other similar controversies recently arising in the SF/fantasy world, such as the renaming of the Tiptree Award and the retiring of the H. P. Lovecraft bust as a trophy for the World Fantasy Award.

Campbell Was a Fascist

A panel at a recent Chessicon (which I participated in) addressed the quandary of how to deal with the works of an author whose personal life and/or beliefs violate our contemporary norms. Do the creator's flaws as a human being negate the value of his or her art? One all-too-recent example outside the realm of literature whom we discussed was Bill Cosby. If not aware of his real-life transgressions, wouldn't we still consider his comedy and TV programs worthwhile? And what about the other actors, innocent of wrongdoing, who suffer when reruns of those programs are made unavailable? Similarly, when a certain deceased editor is credibly accused of immoral conduct, would it make sense to boycott volumes edited by that person when the editor isn't alive to suffer, but innocent authors whose stories appear in those volumes are?

I recently heard a podcast reacting against (as I understood the part I heard) a movement to demote Paul Gauguin from the artistic canon because, as shown by his behavior in Tahiti, he was a pedophile and a racist. Should we deal with problematic authors, artists, filmmakers, actors, etc., differently depending on whether they're alive or dead, and if the latter, how long ago? It's understandable that a reader (viewer, etc.) may not want to give his or her money to living creators guilty of reprehensible behavior or known to hold beliefs the reader considers repellent. In cases of long-dead authors and artists, they're unable to either benefit or suffer from audience response to their works. What about recently deceased objectionable creators? Some audience members may object to giving money to such people's estates, but why? More often than not, the heirs are probably innocent of the dead person's offenses.

Concerning creators who lived so long ago that nobody now alive can be harmed or benefited by our treatment of their works, I see no problem with separating the art from the artist. The former can be great even if the latter was a terrible person. Of course, any individual or group has the right to boycott an artist's work as a form of principled protest. Moreover, the issue of actively honoring a problematic creator by naming an award after him or her is a different, more complicated question. In general, however, it seems to me that if we rejected the work of all artists who were flawed or immoral, we wouldn't have much of a canon left.

Doctorow puts it this way:

"Life is not a ledger. Your sins can’t be paid off through good deeds. Your good deeds are not cancelled by your sins. Your sins and your good deeds live alongside one another. They coexist in superposition."

Likewise, the sins of creators who are or were deplorable human beings coexist alongside their accomplishments as artists. Neither cancels out the other.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Worldbuilding From Reality Part 10 Does It Matter If Arousal Is Gender Specific?

Worldbuilding From Reality
Part 10
Does It Matter If Arousal Is Gender Specific? 

Previous parts in the Worldbuilding From Reality series:

When building a fictional world that an audience will find "immersive," stealing a few bits from Reality -- the shared reality among members of that audience, and your own reality - is the easiest way to go

So looking at old cliche aphorisms and sayings can be very productive.

  • "The way to a man's heart is through is stomach."

  • "Seeing is believing."

  • "Love at first sight."  

  • "His eyes are bigger than his stomach."

  • "Flattery will get you everywhere."  

For centuries, mothers have been teaching daughters that the way to "get" a man is to present yourself with whatever "appearance" (style, manner, dress, speech, hip-sway walk) was currently deemed proper-but-hot by the extant culture, and social circle.

In other words, if you want the part, dress the part.

Clothing, hairdo, perfume, matching shoes, makeup (even if you're too young to need it), walking with a book on your head, speaking only when spoken to, diction, modulating voice, sitting with knees together, crossing legs at a slant, precisely correct undergarments (used to be corsets pulled tight), are all necessary, all things taught in "finishing school" to give the impression you are a woman who "knows her place."

Oh, boy, has the world changed.

Good grief, has nothing really changed?  

Today, sexy-long-hair worn loose -- a style from 60 years ago -- is back, but this time with short, tight, shrink-wrap dresses cut down to here!

The pants suit has given way to body-clinging skirts and dresses of stretch fabrics that really do what people tried to do with thin-knit wool.

All this fussing (expensive fussing with hair, dye, makeup, premium diet food, gym memberships) to present a vibrantly feminine appearance.

All of this is based on the oldest old-saw, that males are turned on by VISUAL CUES.  They will follow their eyes.

But women are different.  Women want something else (which has not been adequately defined.  Admiration, attention, protection of strength, a good provider, praise, exclusivity?  Women differ from each other, and change throughout life.

In science fiction world building, we take ONE (and only one) settled, irrefutable, well proven, widely accepted fact about reality and challenge it.

Science fiction is a busman's holiday for scientists.  It is entertainment for the adventurous thinker who is entertained by intellectual stretching.

So we have the suspension of disbelief - which is easy if there is one and only one thing to not disbelieve.  If the writer lards on a whole series of randomly selected premises, the systematic thinkers in the audience will just leave - drop the book in the trash, bad-mouth it to colleagues.

If the writer focuses tightly on refuting one, and only one, known fact, then builds a world where that single element differs from the audience's reality, and pursues that difference to a rigorous, logical conclusion, then the Stephen Hawkins's of this world will devour that novel and talk about it loudly.

We have discussed targeting a readership in great detail:

When discussing screenwriting, and the how-to books in the SAVE THE CAT! series by Blake Snyder, we discussed "High Concept" storytelling.

The "concept" is the core of the pitch a writer uses - one sentence, one paragraph, the elevator pitch - to sell a project to a publisher.  And the publicist uses a different description of the same work to sell it to the prospective audience.

The Concept is a topic of interest to a segment of humanity, stated in terms that are comprehensible to that segment.

We are currently (and once again) wrestling with the entire concept of I.Q. - of intelligence -- or just of what is it that defines what we recognize in each other as a difference.

We all can enter a room full of people and instantly recognize if we belong there, if "they" will accept us, or if there's any reason to accept them.

We see, know, and recognize differences, and act on that inner knowledge.

More than a century ago, the concept I.Q. - a mathematically measurable trait to define that "difference," - was invented to make it easy to tag people objectively.

It didn't work. It doesn't work. But very clearly there is promise that something science can measure WILL eventually work.  We have pursued genetics and now neurological brain studies, and all sorts of spiritual and scientific paths of investigation .

Bottom line -- we are clueless!

Nevertheless, we persist.  This means here is an area where fiction can inspire new generations to innovate, create new options that can change everything - for real.

Here is one graphic that turned up to my attention on Quora, on one of the many threads about I.Q., that I keep pondering from a world building perspective.

We discussed this one previously:

Notice how FEW people have very high or very low IQ. Low IQ people, the below 70 segment, are likely not going to be reading text novels.  The high IQ segment, over 130, will likely spend their reading time (and they read VERY fast) focusing on their technical area of expertise, or kicked back watching football.

The segment between 90 and 120 is the biggest segment of the readership and just where you'll find an audience for mixed-genre such as Science Fiction Romance, Paranormal Romance.

Notice it's 100 (the average) to 110 who learn from written materials.

Those are an important segment of book-buyers, and many will buy Romance novels.

This segment of readers will buy novels that address topics where they'd like to learn something -- Historical Romance, Science Fiction, that have real world facts, but challenge one (AND ONLY ONE) of those facts to generate a world and a story that makes them think, re-evaluate reality.

These are the people who enjoy imagining.

Such novels are not "High Concept."

What Hollywood means by High Concept is a story springboard that is familiar and attractive, easily understandable by the vast majority of humanity.

Ideas that excite I.Q. 120 and above will not be comprehensible to I.Q. 90 and below.  So they are low concept -- you can't spend a fortune making such a film and get your investment back on opening weekend.

However, most anything an IQ 90 audience can get their teeth into will be comprehensible, and sometimes even entertaining, to I. Q. 120 and above, if it has enough action, innuendo, and gosh-wow special effects.

"High Concept" means a broader audience, which requires an appeal to both high and low I.Q. because no matter what, humans come in that bell-curve spread of abilities.

Concept is almost entirely involved with world building -- the setting, the rules, the Character Relationships not too complex, and the humor.

I. Q. and that bell curve distribution by social and job outcome includes (theoretically) both men and women.  These days, one assumes it is a jumble of "all genders."  In fact, today the very concept of "gender" is finally being explored in depth.

Science Fiction has long explored the flippant way humans just toss off facts about gender.

More than 50 years ago, after it became known that some animals shift gender, Ursula LeGuin won both the Hugo and Nebula for The Left Hand of Darkness
featuring people who shift gender, and the emotional impact of that shifting.

And now science is exploring exactly how some animals shift gender:

Before I read Left Hand of Darkness, I took a page from some of the even older science fiction works exploring gender to create a tri-sexual species for some of my Characters in my Star Trek fanfic work, Kraith.

I used some of those concepts in my two novels, Molt Brother

and City of a Million Legends.

One of the world building premises of my Sime~Gen novels is that when humans split into Sime and Gen, the difference between Sime and Gen far eclipses the male-female difference which still remains but is important only some of the time.

Gender, per se, has long been a topic of interest to science fiction readers because of the mysteries about sexuality left to be explored with science.  And it is one of the science topics that I. Q. 90 and below can fully grasp.  Therefore "sex sells" -- or gender based science fiction (e.g. science fiction romance) is high concept, and sells big time.

So recently, science has been addressing what science fiction long ago proposed as a key topic -- is there a difference between men and women?

From the point of view of an Alien from Outer Space, there might be no perceptible difference.  Humans come in so many sizes, shapes, and colors that gender simply gets lost in the mosaic.

From the point of view of a human, and most of your readers are probably somewhat human, gender matters, big time.

Science, however, may be edging up to the conclusion that gender doesn't matter.

Here is a study of human brain activity (which may or may not actually be true) indicating that the male and female brains exhibit little if any difference when becoming sexually aroused.

We are more alike than we are different.

A science fiction romance writer should be pondering the next scientific discovery, the next big data deep dive analysis that will reveal what we've known all along -- or refute it -- that men respond more strongly to visual cues than women do.

Both men and women enjoy the sight of a potential mate in full feather.  No doubt about that.  But maybe social constructs, cultural myths made real, have conditioned us to exaggerating the male response to the sight of an eligible female?

Maybe the sight of a well-dressed, polished female does not render a male helplessly aroused?  Maybe boys are raised (thus have brain circuitry configured) to assume they are helpless and so, during the teen years, do not develop selectivity.

Therefore, men used to blame their behavior on women - because of how the women dress.  Many still do, but there is cultural blow-back against this notion.  The whole "sexual harassment in the workplace" issue is based on the idea that men are NOT helpless if they glimpse a tightly-dressed female behind.

There was a time when showing a bit of ankle, even clad in high-laced boots, was a sexual come-on before which the male was utterly helpless.

For most of human history, humans didn't wear very much in the way of clothing.  The naked body is not, per se, a sexual invitation.  The entire concept of "modest dress" depends on being able to dress at all.

Yet once clothing options became available, the choice of what to wear when in the sight of whom became a code for sexual availability.

By Biblical Times, there were already exacting standards of "modesty," of ways of saying, "I am not available to you."

Biblically derived cultures insist on men and women dressing modestly (i.e. as not-available) in public.

They all have different ideas of why we should dress modestly, and vastly different codes of what constitutes modesty, all of which shift drastically through the centuries.

Even today, women cover their hair to indicate un-availability.  One excuse for this is that a woman's hair is sexually arousing.  But men's hair is identical when allowed to grow.

In Star Trek, Roddenberry adopted the then-extant code of having unavailable women wear their long hair bound up, but down and loose when they wanted to be available.

In every era (so far) people have blamed intrinsic, unalterable, inexorable male response for the dress codes they have imposed on women.

Only now, science has shown there is no such thing.

Men are not more visually aroused than women.  The brain patterns and responses just don't show a distinct difference.

So the imposition of dress codes (on men or on women) are clearly artificial, and thus subject to choice.

Your current potential audience is part of the current sweeping alteration in dress coding for availability.

How, where and when does a human signal sexual availability?

How do humans learn to choose when to become aroused, and when not to?

Just as it is possible for a woman to learn not to cry (military training imposes this by force), likewise it is possible for a male human to learn not to be aroused by female clothing, hair, exposed skin, even cleavage.

But what do you have to put a boy through so that the resulting man will have full command of that choice?  Today, wouldn't that count as child abuse?

So the scientific facts, what the general public believes about the scientific facts of gender, and the cultural norms all matter when you build a world around themes derived from gender specific responses to stimuli.

How much is culture, how much is choice, how much is real?  Does sexual arousal render humans morally unanswerable for the consequences of their actions?  Where does Soul fit into physiological responses?

Is there such a thing as irresistible temptation? Or is there only human stupidity?  Note that IQ graph page - higher I. Q. humans seem to be better at foreseeing consequences.

Here's another I. Q. article to ponder:

Higher I. Q. seems to protect from death.  (note how it's the exception that proves the rule)

Clearly, this I. Q. measurement thing is onto something -- what that something might be is clearly unclear!  This is the gray area science fiction romance was invented to explore.  Romance (Neptune Transit) suspends the ability to make realistic, practical decisions, using I. Q.  Smart people and intelligence-challenged people all together, all experience this Romance effect.  Romance is High Concept - comprehensible to all I.Q. segments - but according to this Swedish study, a slender portion of humanity has a better chance at long life.

Romance is the Happily Ever After genre -- but according to that article, I. Q. does not correlate to Happiness.  At least, not for humans.

In Romance, not all your characters have to be ultra-smart, but in science fiction, you need some really smart Characters for the scientists to identify with.

Build your world around gender, challenge one (and only one) premise we take for granted about gender, sexuality and the relationship between them, and write a High Concept, Mass Market Best Seller that can become the basis of a TV Series (the streaming market is huge and growing, as noted here:)

In Science Fiction Romance, you can invent Aliens whose culture is rooted in how "happiness" is in fact correlated with I. Q. (whatever that is for them).

So maybe your Alien is hired as a tutor for a Human who needs to learn to choose when to be aroused by the sight of an enticing female?  Only it turns out the enticing female is the Soul Mate of the Alien?

Hoo-boy, the world is about to change!  So apparently it will matter if arousal is gender specific.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Bare Bottoms, Bubbly, Benelux And Beyond

One cannot resist alliteration, can one?

This past week, the most interesting copyright-related legal blogs centered on art, artists' moral rights, and the rights of those whose trademarks were depicted in commercial art.

Starting at the bare bottom, legal bloggers Annick Mottet Haugaard,  Olivia Santantonio, and Ruben Van Breugel discuss --with illustrations-- the legal objections brought by a maker of one of the world's finest Champagnes to an artist's repeated commercial use of their trademark in his works.

Lexology Link (which at the time of this writing is displaying the pointillismish bottom)

Original Link (which unfortunately has broken links for the illustrations)

The bare-bottom-with-bubbly case has not been settled, but for any author who is considering using someone else's trademark in her cover art... beware.

Beware, also, what you re-tweet. Defamation laws around the world are different, as J. Alexander Lawrence blogging for Morrison & Foerster LLP's Socially Aware blog explains.

Lexology Link:

Original Link:

Even if you have the right to express yourself in 120 characters or more, someone else may have the right to sue you.

Talking of being sued, Susan Okin Goldsmith  writing for McCarter & English LLP has an inconvenient warning for owners of websites or blogs that allow third parties to comment or upload material (presumably or links) that might infringe on the copyrights of others.

Register your agent with the Copyright Office, or risk liability for whatever your visitors may post. The article is well worth reading, and gives detailed instructions on how to register and what it will cost.

Lexology link:

Original Link:

Finally, and quite startlingly, Aysha Alawi-Azam  blogging for Clyde & Co LLP  reveals that an owner of a work of art may have difficulties if they change even the frame, let alone if they heavily restore the art, and the still-living artist objects.

Lexology Link:

Original Link:

Sometimes we buy art at an estate sale, for instance, and it never dawns on us that it might be unwise to switch out one frame for another. It's worth reading the original... there are some glorious illustrations.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Life Not as We Know It

One episode of the BBC series PLANET EARTH: BLUE PLANET II highlights denizens of the ocean depths that thrive independently of energy from the sun. They rely on energy from other sources, and some have no need of oxygen.

Some live in methane-rich environments known as "cold seeps" or "cold vents":

Cold Seeps

These spots aren't "cold" in the absolute sense, just less hot than the hot vents referenced below. Bacteria, mussels, and tube worms live happily in the methane or hydrogen sulfide of these ecosystems. Some individual tube worms have been estimated to survive for 250 years in such locations. If similar life-forms developed on other planets in environments like these, in the absence of competition from oxygen-dependent and sunlight-dependent creatures, and eventually became intelligent, a lifespan of that length would allow them plenty of time to learn and pass on their learning to future generations.

Other organisms have evolved in the volcanically active areas around hydrothermal vents, where water can reach temperatures of several hundred degrees Fahrenheit:

Hydrothermal Vents

Like inhabitants of cold vents, life-forms in hydrothermal vents also depend on chemosynthetic bacteria for food. Crustaceans, tube worms and other types of worms, gastropods such as snails, and even eels are among some of the creatures that populate these locations. It's believed that life on Earth may have originated in an environment like this. Again, on a planet where this kind of environment dominated, we can imagine that hyrdrothermal-vent species might evolve sentience and intelligence.

So living creatures can exist right here on our planet in conditions that would be lethal to most Earth species. The quest for extraterrestrial life needn't confine itself to oxygen-rich environments. Moreover, we don't have to expect advanced beings to conform to the familiar humanoid shape. In Heinlein's HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, the teenage narrator describes the villain, an invader from a distant solar system. He's puzzled that these decidedly inhuman-looking aliens can survive in Terran environmental conditions, until he reminds himself that spiders resemble us much less, yet they live in our houses. We don't have to search beyond Earth's ecological systems to find bizarrely alien creatures.

The Wikipedia articles include some color photos of those exotic organisms. Take a look.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Targeting a Readership Part 17 - Original Production Wars

Targeting a Readership
Part 17
Original Production Wars

Previous parts in the Targeting a Readership series:

Readerships are a moving target, and the motion is getting faster with technology.

But then, so is the motion of the writers getting faster.

As noted previously, we live in a world where the social fabric is disintegrating and reforming rapidly.  One way to understand the change in social integration (and strength of the culture) is to note the changes in the decades between having only 3 coast-to-coast networks in the USA, (ABC, NBC, CBS) through the advent of Cable where new networks (Weather Channel, National Geographic, History Channel, etc) proliferated, bleeding viewers off of the three networks.

Meanwhile, the total population of the USA grew and grew, while access to television sets and broadcast channels peaked and waned. Yes, with Cable, and now Satellite, broadcast signal is getting harder to find, and what contents there just is not what is being discussed over business lunches.

This trend toward fragmenting the total viewership is accelerating with online streaming.  Gaming competes with Series Fiction productions, live sports from around the world, and so on.  There is too much for one person to watch everything.  Where you could watch 1/3 of everything (before VCRs when you couldn't record the other 2 channels), you could hold an intelligent conversation with anyone.

Today, we do not have that common thread.

It might re-develop, at least to bind segments of our total population into groups, but meanwhile the opportunities for new writers are proliferating at a dizzying pace.

New markets with new requirements are popping up all over.  Soon a number will fail, or be bought, and the number of scripts sold, the number of novels optioned for streaming-movies, will suddenly shrink.

The elephant in the room is Netflix.  You can get Netflix on all the "devices" (and many TVs have it built in) - Netflix pioneered and still dominates the marketing in the streaming industries.
Apple TV Example

This year, Netflix is building on its award winning history (which astonished everyone a few years ago), and now has not only picked up cancelled TV Series and continued them (such as Longmire), but is spending big on creating original content.

Netflix claimed:


Netflix US

 .@Stranger_Things 3 is breaking Netflix records!

40.7 million household accounts have been watching the show since its July 4 global launch — more than any other film or series in its first four days. And 18.2 million have already finished the entire season.

3:33 PM - Jul 8, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy
38.4K people are talking about this

=========end quote=======

And immediately, doubt was cast upon that claim -- which to other streaming original producers is very scary, though to those worried about our fraying social structure and culture, 40 million is good news.

Here is an item discussing Netflix's reporting habits:

Remember Netflix is a publicly traded company.

Such public companies have been buying each other up at a mind-boggling pace the last 10 years or so.  The new combined companies own warehouses full of backlist material, potentially a gold mine as content-hungry streaming proliferates.

But the real money is in originals - which is where you and Science Fiction Romance come into the picture.  We have an opportunity here.

Here is an article about 2019's "in-development" list at Warner Media.

Recently, the old radio turned broadcast TV turned Cable channel, CBS (after much not-so-polite buying of companies) ended up with the rights to make new Star Trek.  They used Star Trek to lure their target audience into subscribing to CBS-All Access and are withdrawing many of their backlist properties from Netflix (and elsewhere), making it so that you can only view their content via a subscription to their service.

Other elderly media giants are following suit.

But the new ones have made their subscriber base from streaming rented content from those elderly giants.  Now Wall Street is expecting the profitability of these new media giants (Amazon, Sling, Crackle, Hulu which just got bought, and many you've never heard of) to plummet.

However, the new original content created by the new streaming media companies is winning legitimate awards, and huge viewerships.

This fall, Apple is jumping into the fray, having spent a couple of years trying to duplicate Amazon Prime, Roku, Google, and other streaming delivery services while spending big time on new, original content for their Apple service.

To get the Apple service, you generally have to buy a little box to plug into your TV set -- and all of these services will be trying to leap to more pixels per screen and 5G internet speeds.  Then you have to enter your subscription credentials (username and password) into the App on the TV Screen.  You pay for the little box, and then pay monthly subscriptions to all the services you want.  Both Apple and Roku offer "free" services, but likely not the ones you want.

Tivo is in the same "little box" business, so once you have their DVR/box, you connect to the internet and use Tivo's collection of Apps to enter your subscription data.  Due to a lawsuit, Tivo has a Hulu App but you can't get "live TV" service via that Hulu App.  You can get Hulu Live TV via Roku's Hulu App.

What you can get, and what it costs you, depends on contracts and court orders, not the socially healing effect of the content.

They will all be producing hits, some of which will carry the Romance Themes which may be the most "healing" themes in fiction.  Amazon Prime has some hits, Netflix is rising in huge audiences for its hits, Hulu has had some original hits -- they all have.

The streaming services "original" production money is leaning heavily on novels, and series of novels, for material -- just as some of the very biggest, longest running TV Series from the Black&White days did.  Perry Mason was one series made from books.  Sherlock Holmes has been done in a lot of versions.  Many writers, popular and not, have had books made into TV movies, and

Popular books are most likely to be chosen, so Romance is being courted.  Look at what Starz did with OUTLANDER,
then right in the middle of marketing OUTLANDER onto Netflix, Seasons 3 and 4 were withdrawn in favor of the new individual-channel-subscription offer.

Maybe in 2020 you will see the beginnings of the Cable business model (one subscription to a bundle of networks) take hold in the streaming space.

Meanwhile, independent authors with material that appeals to a narrow, but easily defined audience, will be able to market text-fiction to video-production.

The "exclusive content" wars will further shred our social fabric, but it might be possible that Facebook will provide the model for bringing us back together.

Google pointed the way by using crowd-sourcing to conquer spam.  We need a new way to sort the torrential stream of entertainment and information media.  Crowd-sourcing filtering might work to bring audiences together.

I doubt we'll ever get down to just 3 "everybody I know watches this" topics, but it seems to me Romance and its sub-genres has what it takes to bind up our wounds so we might heal.

Meanwhile, the war for Original Production Streaming Products continues - and the giants we thought were dead have come alive, eaten each other, and produced some new, voracious, media giants.  They are stealing content from each other, actors, production staff -- there is a tremendous and growing market for video-skills.

Think about the dynamic forces behind this article, and where you might fit into this war.

Early last year, Universal Pictures won a heated Hollywood bidding war when it agreed to slap down up to $160 million to fund Dwayne Johnson’s upcoming action adventure blockbuster, Red Notice, based on a pitch meeting and Johnson’s star power alone. No script.

That included a $20 million payday for Johnson, an eight-figure check for director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper) and what we assume to be significant salaries for Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, who would later join the cast. Yet on Monday, in the midst of a progress-to-production timeline lapse built into the contract, Universal pulled Red Notice from its 2020 release schedule and shopped the script to Netflix, which had previously been an aggressive bidder.

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

Who's going to win this war?  Probably not the consumer.  But you are a writer, talent-on-the-hoof, (very cheap talent; writers aren't the expensive part of movie making).  You produce the content these big guys are fighting over.  As little as writing costs in a production budget, you could fund the rest of your life by landing just one of these contracts.

What do you have that targets a specific, defined, precise viewership - that is of keen interest to just a few million people out of Earth's billions of people?

Remember, with Netflix in the game, "the market" is not the USA consumer but the entire world.

As we've discussed previously, video fiction is "a story in pictures" -- fewer words and more images.

Like a graphic novel, panel after panel of pictures unfolds into a story.

Many movies and now TV Series are being made from video games which are based on old comics.

Be the "old comic" of the 2020's so that in 2050 your source material will be the blockbuster, award winning, title of the year.

Be the original source of the defining Romance to build on the OUTLANDER series.

Say something new, that hasn't been said in Romance before.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, November 09, 2019


In Michigan, the mergansers are back --temporarily-- on the lake, a stopping point on their migration. Summer-long waterfowl foes assemble companionably at this time of  year. I mean the swans, and geese, and stranger ducks.  Likewise, belated Monarch butterflies straggle, blown off course into unlikely places.

It's not Thomas Hood's November.

Then, again, this is not Hood country.

So, here's a November To-Do list for authors and website owners.

It's NaNoWriMo time. If you haven't started the November novel writing challenge, you are nine days behind, but could still have a productive month.

Most inconveniently, Linda J. Zirklebach and Danae Tinelli blogging for Venable LLP come up with an unwelcome reminder that it is time to renew our DMCA designated agent with the copyright office and to update our websites.

Not every author needs to do that, but it's a good reminder for internet hygiene. Is every stock photograph on your website or blog or book cover either your own or properly licensed?

Meanwhile, MUSO (an anti-piracy business) is sharing a "White Paper" which suggests that there is a real benefit to taking down copyright infringing posts on pirate sites.  And Yahoo is doing away with its groups. Most people are migrating to (groups).

All the best,
Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Worlds with Depth

The Fall/Winter issue of MYTHLORE includes an article by Katherine Sas on creating the "impression of depth" in a work of fiction (specifically, in this case, in the backstory of the Marauders in the Harry Potter series), a term coined by Tolkien in his classic essay "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics." One of my favorite themes in fiction is the overshadowing of the present by the deep past. That's one reason I find Stephen King's IT enthralling, a feature that the new movie tries to present a bit better than the old miniseries, but still not adequately. So I'm glad to have an official name for this theme. Sas herself paraphrases this effect as "a sense of antiquity and historical reality."

The essence of the "impression of depth" consists of a feeling that the author "knows more than he [or she] is telling." Tolkien refers to the creation of "an illusion of surveying a past...that itself had depth and reached backward into a dark antiquity." He mentions the crafting of this effect in BEOWULF by "allusions to old tales." In his own work, Tolkien uses invented languages, frame narratives, references to ancient tales and lost texts, and "hypertextual layering" (i.e., metafictional features that draw attention to the text as an artifact). Such techniques produce the illusion of a world that has existed for a vast expanse of time before the present action and contains places, peoples, and events glimpsed at the edges of the main story.

Within a more limited physical setting, King's IT creates an illusion of deep time by the gradual revelation of how the monster originally introduced as merely a supernatural killer clown has haunted Derry since the town's founding—revealed by Mike's research into the generational cycle of the entity's periodic return and hibernation—and, eons before human settlement, came through interstellar space from an alien dimension. Likewise, the TV series SUPERNATURAL begins on a small-scale, personal level and expands to encompass an entire cosmology. At the beginning of the series, all we know about the background of Sam and Dean Winchester is that their father is a "Hunter" (of demons and other monsters) and that their mother died in a horrific supernatural attack when Sam was a baby. The brothers themselves know little more. We, and they, soon learn that their father made a deal with a demon. Eventually it's revealed that Sam and Dean were destined from infancy, not to save the world, but to serve as "vessels" for divine and diabolical entities. As they strive to assert their free will against this destiny, they uncover secrets of their family's past and the worldwide organization of Hunters (along with its research auxiliary branch, the Men of Letters), they clash (and sometimes ally) with demons, angels, pagan deities, and Death incarnate, and, incidentally, they do save the world and visit Hell and Purgatory several times. They learn the real nature and purposes of Heaven, Hell, and God Himself. The hypertextual (metafictional) aspect of the series is highlighted in episodes such as a visit to an alternate universe where the brothers are characters in a TV show and their discovery that a comic-book artist who turns out to be a prophet (as they believe until he's revealed as the very incarnation of God) has published a series that chronicles their adventures.

Tolkien's colleague and close friend C. S. Lewis reflects on the literary impression of depth in two articles reprinted in his collection SELECTED LITERARY ESSAYS, "Psycho-Analysis and Literary Criticism" and "The Anthropological Approach." In both pieces, he concludes that the ideas of hidden, half-forgotten, multi-layered dimensions in place or time and disguised remnants preserved from the ancient past are alluring in themselves. We're fascinated by the suggestion of "the far-borne echo, the last surviving trace, the tantalizing glimpse, the veiled presence, of something else. And the something else is always located in a remote region, 'dim-discovered,' hard of access." We're thrilled to enter "a world where everything may, and most things do, have a deeper meaning and a longer history" than expected. Many readers (although admittedly not all) enjoy the idea "that they have surprised a long-kept secret, that there are depths below the surface." Tolkien's exposition of this effect, as well as the creation of it by him and other authors who use similar strategies, offers valuable hints to writers who want to produce that kind of impression.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Reviews 48 - The Kickass Heroine Lifestyle

Reviews 48
The Kickass Heroine Lifestyle
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Reviews haven't been indexed.

In the Mysteries of Pacing series ...

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 - where we discussed the TV Series Outlander

Part 4 Story Pacing

Part 5 How Fast Can A Character Arc?

Part 6 How to Change a Character's Mind

...we looked at some of the fundamentals of how Theme, Story and Plot fit together to create Pace.  There's more to be said on that topic, and it gets more interesting as we add Style and Voice to the mix of skills.

Here, we pause to look at some examples where the breakneck pacing leaves no room for relationships, or romance.

Here are the three novels to compare.

When mastering a skill, it pays to look at where others "fail" to incorporate that skill.  What does a novel look like if it is "fast paced" and what sorts of Characters spend a part of their life in the fast-lane of life?

Many of the most popular novels ever written - and most popular now being published - are extra-fast paced.  Historically, that hasn't been the case, but popular, mass market, fiction generally reflects the daily realities that people deal with in their real lives.

Some genres specialize in opening a window into a differently paced world.  For decades, Romance, Historical Romance, and suspense and crime novels provided a markedly different pace than life was taking on.

We talked a lot about "The Information Explosion" as computerization took shape, communications went Satellite, CNN delivered real-time battlefront news, and topics proliferated.  The speed at which Universities published new discoveries on a wider and wider variety of fronts, from Medicine to Astrophysics, increased perceptibly.

And then everyone just got used to Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, E-Newsletters, and the tsunami of information flowing over them every day.

We are now in a period of consolidation and digestion of this increase in human life's pace.

A new generation is growing up taking online devices for granted from the age of maybe 5 or so - maybe younger.  Parents are worrying about how young brains can be differently wired because of the pace of digital experience, and the "blue light" of screens having unknown effects on the whole body.

But these young children are adapting to the world they enter, just as previous generations have adapted.  Humanity's most potent survival trait is adaptability -- but individual human adults don't adapt.  Each generation fossilizes in a certain configuration, adapted to conditions of their youth, and decries the deformation of their children by new circumstances.

This is a new phenomenon in human evolution.  For millions of years, parents taught their children how to cope with the world the parents grew up in, and that knowledge worked fine, with a few minor tweaks, for the rest of that child's life.  Change took many generations.

All that changed with the printing press and movable type.

The speed of change is still increasing.  What once took more than a hundred years now happens in twenty (or less).

Science Fiction Romance has arisen (along with Paranormal and Fantasy Romance) because those purely technological changes have now soaked down deep into our cultures -- and cultures are fighting back.

For astrologers, this is a change cycle traceable by Pluto.  Pluto (whether it's a planet, or not doesn't matter - the effect is perceptible if you know how to look) is now transiting Capricorn.  Pluto is sexuality and the raw, basic urge to reproduce and survive, which includes "war" in the sense of grabbing the territory and resources of others.  Pluto "rules" Scorpio, the natural 8th House, which is other people's resources, opposite the natural 2nd House, your personal resources.

Values are a resource.  That makes Values an 8th House, Pluto/Sex (not Romance or Love, just Sex/Reproduction) phenomenon.

Starting in the 1950's and erupting onto the Headlines where writers could rip it off and craft novels about it, the Sexual Revolution has attacked the very foundation of the cultures (all of them) that existed before the printing press and movable type.

The women who suffered, died, worked themselves to death to win (or elsewhere, lose) World War II, stood up and screamed ENOUGH ALREADY!

The children they raised, raised another generation that knew nothing about the oppression their great-grandmothers lived and died under.

They didn't know they were free because they didn't know there was such a thing as legalized, culturally embedded, values (a whole system of values) based on the unconscious assumption that female-ness automatically meant slave, non-entity and stupid.

The generation born with Pluto in Scorpio grew up on the concept of the "kick-ass heroine," completed "the sexual revolution."

For decades the pants-suit and short haircut was the uniform of the liberated woman. "I'm as good a man as you are," was the fashion statement.  Anything a man could do, a woman could do (probably better).

But a new generation is now emerging into adulthood, bolder, more self-confident, and happily adorning themselves in long hair, dresses, skirts and wearing pants to every sort of event as they please.

These women devour the Kickass Heroine novels and model themselves after action-hero figures, in novels, games, movies, and TV Series.

We are seeing the chip-on-the-shoulder confrontation against masculinity wane, even as men complain of the attack on masculinity.

We are seeing a cross-cultural revolution.

We are seeing Values morph.

We are seeing sharing of values diminish, leaving culture crumbling.

Into this real-world mixture of change, comes the Science Fiction Romance, boldly going where no one has gone before.

We are watching, in our real world lives, how Love is Conquering Culture Shock.

Alvin Toffler's 1970's books on the physiological effect cultural change has on humans, and how this accelerating pace of change is creating change, is a must-read even today for Romance writers.

The readership you are targeting is in the medical condition called "shock."  The interlocking physiological systems are dysfunctional because of this shock.  We don't know yet, medically, how dire this may be, but we know that "stress" unrelieved, unrelenting, "fear-fight-flight" states wear our bodies out.

Fiction can be an anodyne to culture shock.

Fiction about Relationships, Love, and Romance, about people (human or not) coping with super-stressful, action-packed, blinding-speed, high-stakes games of survival amidst crumbling cultures may shape our future reality.

Star Trek is one of the examples of fiction informing reality.  As with Robert A. Heinlien's novels, the portrayal in Star Trek of human beings using advanced tools, tools that current science declared impossible, released the imagination of a generation that created many of those impossible tools.

That's the "science" part of science fiction.  The tools change, and the power of a single individual to do harm, or good, increases exponentially.

That increase has, in itself, not been a problem until recent decades when the foundation of shared values has dissolved.  Both the Values themselves have changed (women aren't born to slavery), and the sharing has diminished markedly.

The digital revolution diminished the "sharing" component of Culture.

The printing press kicked off the information explosion, and the digitalization of the world disintegrated the audience.

In the 1950's there were 3 US spanning TV networks, and they stopped broadcasting about 10:00 PM (then came Johnny Carson and midnight talk shows.)  Everyone watched the same shows - especially the big hits.  Everyone could carry on a conversation using those referents.  It was a common, shared, culture.

Today, there are hundreds, maybe thousands if you count streaming from other countries, of TV Series, Movies, Variety entertainment, Cooking Shows, National Geographic channel, -- just try to find 5 people in the grocery store at the same time who all watched THIS OR THAT last night!

Only small Groups on Facebook gather around discussing a particular print novel.  Nobody else knows or cares.

We simply don't have a universe of discourse in common, and so the dissemination of Values is not working the way it has in previous generations.

You might not believe it, but only a small percentage of the population pays attention to politics.  It's the loudest thing in the media right now, but only a small percentage of the population grasps enough of the subject to define a "value."

This fragmentation is an important consideration if you want to market fiction.

I have here three novels you probably never heard of, and most likely won't read, possibly don't care about at all.  They are mass market publications by very big, traditional publishers, mass market to tiny fragments of the 5 or 10% of the people who read books.  Yes, they are in ebook formats, too, but none of these by themselves constitute a large enough "reach" to matter.

Taken together, however, they make a point you should consider.

What do these 3 books have in common?

All 3 have a female protagonist, though Salvation Day by Kali Walace also has an alternating Point of View Character who is male.

Any of these 3 novels could have been published as Science Fiction or Fantasy in the 1970's.

Read the blurbs on the covers, and the "Look Inside" snatch on Amazon.

Now substitute male names for the Main Character.

Any of these books could be old fashioned "neck-up science fiction" the teen-boy-aimed genre which excludes all complications of the plot due to the story, the psychological morphing due to falling in love.

All these novels are about the same length (one of the requirements for mass market), and because of that length requirement, if there is to be "action" there is no room for "relationship."

Some exquisitely skilled writers can fold in a strong, plot-driving, internal-conflict-resolving Relationship even with a strict length requirement, but the current market does not have an appetite for that sort of novel.

These female, kick-ass heroines are just heroes. There is nothing feminine about them. It is as if half the Character's character is lopped off with a carving knife.

You can't craft a Soul Mate for a Character like that -- because such half-character Characters have no "Soul" you can find to build on.

They are powerful, tough, and desperate, as well as goal directed and emotionally engaged in their projects.  They have enemies, and meet those enemies.  They can tell the good guys from the bad guys, and they all oppose badass villains with true grit.

That's how they are just like men - and it is a portrait of the modern woman - but the other half of the novel is missing.  How are these women different from men?

We live in a culture in flux, and it is currently a very fragmented culture where the definition of masculinity, femininity and humanity are all changing.

Different groups espouse different values, and as always with humans, those most cherished values are held subconsciously, as beliefs. See Mysteries of Pacing Part 6, How To Change A Character's Mind.

Most of our beliefs are non-falsifiable hypotheses about the nature of life.  We don't question them, or prove them, or test them.  So any "ass" that gets in our way is fair game for kicking.

These 3 novels all draw a stark, black vs white, picture of right and wrong, and don't provoke the reader to ask hard questions about these currently changing aspects of our everyday world's cultures.

While delving deeply into the qualities of character necessary to surmount overwhelming odds, these three novels do not share the depth of thinking behind Science Fiction and Fantasy published in the 1960's.  That's not to say the older novels were "better."  Those novels were aimed at their readership, and these novels are aimed at a different readership.

None of the three is, in itself, particularly outstanding. They are all well written, could use a more vigorous editing for repetitions of information and lame dialogue, and tackle the job of extrapolating current trends into the near future or an alternate reality.

They may all be taken as cautionary tales, but none point the way out of this current cultural fragmentation.

It will take a Science Fiction Romance to illuminate that path out of the current state of affairs.

Children born with Pluto in Aquarius -- 2024 and on -- will be the ones to crystalize a new culture from this fragmentation.  They will be of age in 2050, and current predictors are skeptical that Earth's biosphere can support human life past 2050, at least not "life as we know it."  Civilization may be doomed, so we'll need to crystalize a new one.

I haven't yet seen any Science Fiction Romance novels about that coming epoch.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Getting Off On Punctuation ?

There are many twisted variants of, "If you don't have something nice to say...."
Here's a new one. "If you don't have anything nice to pen about anybody...use a question mark."

Apparently, a question mark can turn an offensive and otherwise actionable --or defamatory-- utterance into an offensive but innocent query.

Legal bloggers Lee. S. Brennan and Michael C. Godino (with special kudos to Josh McWhorter), explain some of the grosser* (?) points of how James Woods got off a defamation charge in the interesting case of Boulger vs Woods.

Precautionary punctuation works on Tweets, too.

Writing for the law firm Charles Russell Speechlys LLP,  legal blogger Claire Greaney, discusses privacy and defamation on Twitter, and cleverly appends a protective question mark on "Roodunnit?"


If everyone lards their otherwise intentionally defamatory statements with interrogation points, the Courts' presumption of ambiguity may go away.

The best defence (UK) or defense (USA) is to be very sure that offensive revelations are true.

Venable LLP has a blog about that, too.

Venable's legal bloggers Lee S. Brenner and Matthew J. Busch provide good advice for investigative journalists and less than malicious publishers.

In conclusion, to quote another proverb, "Honesty is the best policy."

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

"grosser" was used as the antonym of "finer", and was chosen purely for self-amusement.

PS. If one has characters to spare, and a question mark doesn't make sense,  it is always wise to liberally sprinkle salacious sentences with the word "allegedly".