Thursday, June 09, 2022

Types of Telepathy

In reading THE SCIENCE OF STAR TREK, by Mark Brake, I'm naturally reminded of Vulcan telepathy (not discussed much if at all in this book, though). I don't recall the scope and nature of Spock's telepathic power being strictly defined in the original series. For complete access to the consciousness of another, Vulcans must perform a mind meld. From the episode with the alien Horta, we know language poses no barrier. Spock comprehends the thoughts of aliens through mind melds even if the other species aren't humanoid. However, he seems to exercise some limited form of telepathy without melding; in one later episode, we witness him silently "making a suggestion" to a humanoid antagonist who's not mentally on guard. The "Empath" episode introduces a young woman whose species, if she's typical, is mute. Rather than truly telepathic, they're empathic, sensing emotions but not thoughts. It seems unlikely that this species could have a technologically advanced culture, with no ability to communicate precise concepts, especially abstract ones.

Some theories of telepathy assume the participants must share a language for mutual understanding. Others postulate a universal mental "language" so that access to someone's thoughts automatically allows total comprehension. The title character of "The Mindworm," C. M. Kornbluth's classic psychic vampire tale, can hear the surface thoughts of everybody near him but can understand them only if the subject is mentally verbalizing in a language he knows (a limitation that proves his undoing when he clashes with Eastern European immigrants who recognize him from their native folklore).

Does a telepath "hear" only what the subject is thinking of at the moment or delve at will into all the contents of the person's mind? If the former, can you mask your secrets by deliberately thinking of something else? The telepath in Spider Robinson's VERY BAD DEATHS, so sensitive to the clamor of other people's minds that he lives as a hermit, picks up only surface thoughts. In Robert Heinlein's TIME FOR THE STARS, the telepathic twins "just talk," communicating silently in much the same way they do aloud. Trying to open themselves totally to each other's minds produces chaotic confusion, like being inside someone else's dream, so they don't bother.

On the other hand, some fictional telepaths can rummage through people's minds and quickly learn everything about the subject's past and present. Trying to conceal anything from a psychic with this power by simply thinking of pink elephants would be futile.

Here's a big question that I've never seen addressed, except implicitly in the STAR TREK "Empath" episode: Would a completely telepathic species have a language at all? It seems to me that they wouldn't have a reason to evolve it naturally. On the other hand, for any kind of advanced civilization to develop, surely they would have to invent language sooner or later. They would need a system of writing in order to keep records. They would need a way to communicate at long distance. Even if they got along without speech, surely written language would be a prerequisite for complex societies and any but the most rudimentary technology. It wouldn't evolve naturally, however. Geniuses among them would have to create it, as cultures on Earth invented mathematical notation. A first-contact premise of interstellar explorers from Earth meeting extraterrestrials whose only form of language is written, to whom audible speech is an alien concept, would make an exciting, challenging story.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Saturday, June 04, 2022

When You Die....

In DUNE, everyone had wealth in the form of bodily fluids, except that their water belonged to the tribe, and the dessicated remains to their family. There's a lot more inspiring (or not) matter about recycling, and also some sub plots that might relate to modern day discoveries about DNA, auras , bioenergy fields, and ghosts, and how the human mind can (perhaps) change or repair its own DNA.

But, most of us have wealth that we may never consider: intellectual property wealth. What might once have been included in ones estate as photograph albums, diaries, scrapbooks, reels of film and carousels of slides may now be stored and locked in a "cloud" or server farm belonging to a big tech entity. Without a password and a plan, ones beneficiaries might not be able to reclaim digitally stored NFTs, bitcoins, domain names, photographs, social media accounts and so forth.

Legal blogger Nicole L. Petrow of the law firm McGrath North Mullin & Kratz discusses the important steps one should take to ensure that ones loved ones are able to inherit ones sentimental and financial digital treasures... not to mention ones Facebook account.

Original Link: 
Lexology Link:  
Nicole L. Petrow's article seems comprehensive, thorough, and well worth doing. Also, it is by far the most recent and current article on the subject, so although I have reviewed other articles, I have not included links to articles from the two-thousand-and-teens.
Authors who have copyright registration documents for their books and trademarks etc should be sure to include mention of those and an assignment to an executor of ones copyrights in their wills. An article by Fred Rocafort of Harris Bricken about "shenanigans" on Amazon illustrates why one should be sure that ones loved ones have proof of copyright registration, not only for novels and other literary works, but also for ones blurbs and advertising copy!
Lexology Link: 
Original Link: 
All the best,
Rowena Cherry 


Friday, June 03, 2022


Surprise #4: Of Deliberately Limiting Story Potential Development

This is the sixth of fifteen posts dealing with surprising things I learned in the course of writing a science fiction series.

The fourth thing that most astonished me about writing in the science fiction genre is that writing a series with this enormous scope forbade me from getting to know my characters, settings, and relationships in the depth I usually do in each book. Almost exclusively, my books have no more than two to five point-of-view (POV) characters so I can really get to know each main character down to intimate-diary-details in the process of writing them. Settings and relationships are directly related to those main POV characters so expanding those was never a hardship that felt like it was getting out of control. Even in my mystery series stories, where I do have a larger cast of characters than most of the other genres I write in, I've never felt inhibited about development the way I was with my sci-fi series.

There are two major reasons for this need I felt to deliberately limit the story potential development in this particular series:

1) Information Overload: When Too Much is Too Much

Arrow of Time Chronicles had more or less 30 POV characters throughout the four installments, with about seven different characters "telling" their specific portion of the story in each installment. Additionally, I also had to create numerous homeworlds and cultural lore for all the alien races (which I called "cultures") in the galaxy featured in the series. If you missed it, check out my previous blog posts about the overwhelming research required for this series and how I went about building all those necessary aspects.

Now, don't get me wrong here, my research and developmental methods created fully fleshed characters, settings, and relationships. The construction of all three of these in this series was a lot of fun to imagine and expand upon. There was simply no way to use everything I came up with without overloading the books to the point of spawning side stories left and right (kind of like the A Song of Fire and Ice Series does--albeit pretty effectively in that case).

2) Overarching Series Focus: Serving the Needs of the Series Arc

Early in this article series, I talked in-depth about what an Overarching Series is. In this type of series, none of the books can truly be standalones because the series arc that's introduced in the first book in the series will run through every installment in that series, expanding and intensifying as it goes, only concluding in the final volume of the series. Another defining characteristic of the Overarching Series is that the primary focus has to be serving the needs of the series arc, though the individual stories are each allowed a certain amount of flourish when it came to character, world, and relationship development. It's best to use the individual story arcs so the amount of development isn't overwhelming in each volume.

With Arrow of Time Chronicles, I had to focus on the series arc first and foremost, narrowing character, setting, and relationship development for specific story arcs in each installment because I knew so much of the "extras" I came up with weren't critical in this particular series. Doing anything else would have ruined the series arc I was building over the course of four novels.

Not all authors follow this advice, and I bet you can name quite a few of those authors off the top of your head. Most books these days include many POV characters…many, many. The trend of including so many characters in a single book isn't one I can get on board with. The biggest reason for that is because every main character, every plot, every setting, and every relationship has to be three-dimensional and fully-fleshed out in that story. How can any of these things achieve that requirement when the only way to effectively cover the three dimensions (past, present, and future) of character, setting, and relationship development--and that for each main POV character--is to write a 200,000-word novel or a series of 200,000-word novels? If you want to know more about 3D writing, the reissue of my writing guide, Three-Dimensional Fiction Writing, will be available soon.

I was about halfway through outlining Book 3 of Arrow of Time Chronicles when I realized there was no way I could resolve everything the way it needed to be if I used that particular book to try to tie everything up. Ultimately, there was no stopping myself from adding a fourth book to the series, not without feeling like I was truncating the series for the sole reason of keeping the word count manageable. While I think there are reasons why an author might decide not to develop a potential subplot in a series, if it's organic and the series is less complete and satisfying without it, there's no way to turn away from getting down to business.

As authors, deliberately limiting the potential for a story to expand so far beyond what a series arc can handle might just be our obligation as the overseers. In most stories written these days, the main characters and their settings, conflicts, and relationships aren't three-dimensional because there simply isn't room to make them so, unless you're George R.R. Martin, for instance, who does a thorough job of this. The question is, will we ever see the epic conclusion? I, for one, continue to hope so.

As an author, though, ask yourself when approaching an Overarching Series: If you don't limit your development or rein yourself in at all, will you be able to complete what you started? Might it be better to focus on the series arc as much as possible to allow manageable installments? Additionally, instead of putting everything in one series, why not leave yourself the possibility of writing smaller miniseries within the overall series to focus on other aspects of the characters, settings, and relationships?

I do realize that some authors don't feel like they have a lot of choice about all this, just like I didn't when deciding whether to add a fourth book to my series. Mainly, authors just go where the story seems to be leading them. In my case, I felt like there was a chance I couldn't make all the series characters, plots, settings, and relationships fully fleshed out if I let myself run wild on tangents but also knew when I had to make an exception and let development expand organically. Only marginally was I concerned that I wanted each book in the series to be around 100,000 words (no more than that, if I could help it), but I really was interested in finishing the series in a doable amount of time. In fact, I did it in about 2 years for all four books. They were published in 2020, one after the after in a fairly short span of time, which I think an Overarching Series with cliffhanger installments absolutely requires to keep fans invested.

Next week, we'll begin a multi-part sequence that goes more in-depth about series and story arcs, how to develop them early in the process, and why standalone stories are all but impossible to achieve in an Overarching Series.

Happy writing!

ased on Writing the Overarching Series (or How I Sent a Clumsy Girl into Outer Space): 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection by Karen S. Wiesner (release date TBA)

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series, including the romantic science fiction series, ARROW OF TIME CHRONICLES

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Lost Continents

Recently I came across a reference to a "paleomicrocontinent" whose remains underlie parts of central Europe, called Greater Adria. The existence of a lost continent immediately reminded me of the sunken land of Atlantis. Could Greater Adria be the basis for that myth (first mentioned in Plato's dialogues TIMAEUS and CRITIAS)? Alas for this exciting notion, Greater Adria existed from 240 to 140 million years ago, long before our species evolved:

Greater Adria

I was surprised to learn of two other prehistoric lost continents, Mauritia (about 60 million years ago), near present-day Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, and Zealandia (submerged about 23 million years ago) under the Pacific Ocean except for its above-sea-level remnants in the form of New Zealand and New Caledonia.

Unfortunately, none of those land masses survived long enough to support super-advanced ancient civilizations. Unless, of course, we want to entertain the premise, as in some of Lovecraft's stories, that highly evolved nonhuman aliens arrived on Earth from interstellar space to establish civilizations that became extinct so long ago almost all their material traces have vanishd. As for Atlantis, according to mainstream science a huge continent in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean never existed. Its story was probably a fable created by Plato for teaching purposes. The most widely accepted source of the historical inspiration for Atlantis is the seventeenth- or sixteenth-century BC catastrophic volcanic eruption whose resulting tsunami destroyed the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

Belief in the other famous alleged lost continent, Lemuria, had a more scientific origin. On the basis of the distribution of lemur fossils, zoologist Philip Sclater in 1864 proposed a former land bridge that had sunk beneath the Indian Ocean, which he named Lemuria. Later, it was suggested that Lemuria might have been the ancestral home of the human species. The Lemuria hypothesis was eventually disproved by the acceptance of continental drift as the correct explanation for the fossil record and other related phenomena. However, Helena Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, picked up and popularized the idea that humanity originated in Lemuria. British occult writer James Churchward, calling it Mu, relocated the mythical sunken continent to the Pacific Ocean. Its inhabitants were imagined to possess highly advanced mystical knowledge and technological achievements of which civilizations such as ancient Egypt preserved mere remnants.

Lost civilizations on now-submerged continents can make fascinating premises for fiction, such as Lynsay Sands's long-running romance-humor-suspense series about a quasi-vampiric clan of immortals whose condition arose from biological research by Atlantean scientists. In factual history and prehistory, though, it seems strange that some people want to believe historical civilizations we know about can't have produced complex inventions and structures such as the Egyptian pyramids. They must have had help from highly advanced science originating on lost continents or from extraterrestrials who landed on Earth and shared their super-science. Or maybe from lost-continent civilizations that received their science from extraterrestrials. In fact, human beings thousands of years ago possessed the same level of intelligence we do and wouldn't have needed mystical aid to create the artifacts they left behind.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Quid Pro Quo Bad

Don't be like Ironman! Don't get fined for falling foul of America's "sweepstakes" laws.

Call it a "contest", but if one is not careful, the "contest" might be a lottery or sweepstakes, and it might be illegal if one does not know what one is doing... and many authors don't. They are simply keen to promote their books and their brand, attract massive followings on social media sites, and make a prestigious list.

Whether the quid pro chance-at-a-quo (or price of entry into a contest) is signing up for a newsletter, or giving a "like" on a site, becoming a "follower", quoting a quote, posting a review, or paying a fee, the "quid" is a thing of value, at least to the author.

The "quo" is the chance to win something, which might be money, a gift card, a token, an ebook, a signed paperback or hardback, a necklace, a bundle of books, even an ebook reader.

The fact is, for the contest to be legal, one must offer a free, alternative way to enter, such as mailing in one's name and contact information on a postcard. 

There are other important steps that a contest organizer must take, and they are clearly explained by Barry M. Benjamin of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Lexology link:
Original link


All the best,

Friday, May 27, 2022


Of Research and Developmental Tool Requirements, Part 2:

Surprise #3: Developmental Tool Underwhelm

This is the fifth of fifteen posts dealing with surprising things I learned in the course of writing a science fiction series.

In the previous part, I talked about the overwhelming of amount of advance and in-the-process-of-outlining-each-book research I needed to do to write my science fiction series. Here in Part 2, we'll talk about the lack of available developmental tools I required for my project.

Figuring out how to begin the buildout of my unique galaxy and all who populated the various settings in Arrow of Time Chronicles was one of the biggest shocks I got in the process of trying to learn how to write in this genre. Despite the sheer number of books I bought and websites I scoured in my desperate search for the promised assistance, finding developmental tools to prompt areas I needed to focus on expanding were so scarce as to be nearly nonexistent. I could hardly believe how much trouble I had finding anything I could use. If you're a writer, you may feel the need to send me links and suggestions about just this, but I have a strong feeling anything suggested to me was actually something I located while I was working on my sci-fi series and none of it provided what I was really needed. I have three ideas about why that was the case:

            1) My series was simply too complicated that generalized help was useless or alternately, the specific help wasn't generalized enough to be what I needed,

            2) the resources I needed are so well-hidden it's a crime,


            3) the development tools I needed simply don't exist!

Frustrated, I turned to videogame and Dungeons & Dragons guides. Of all the materials I bought or found on the internet, those items had the most helpful development tools. I took what I needed and could use from all these references, though quite honestly even those didn't have everything I needed and they simply weren't specific and/or generalized enough. 

Because I had no other choice, I came up with my own worksheets and tools for my world- and character-building for this series. These worksheets were a crucial help to me in fleshing out this series, and I feel they're just specific enough to be generalized (and vice versa). Basically, anyone could use them and modify them to what they need them for. My upcoming book Writing the Overarching Series (or How I Sent a Clumsy Girl into Outer Space) will include all of them. I had a binder with profiles for every single culture, planet, and main character with these worksheets expanded upon for easy reference. I also found pictures on the internet to help me visualize everything and thereby allow descriptions to form in the detail needed for writing the story and individual scenes.

In the back matter of every book in the series, I included simplified versions of the worksheets I filled out, which I included for all the cultures. Using that template, I was able to brief provide a snapshot of each of the alien races for readers who a) needed some refresher from one book to the next, b) required immediate explanations while reading, and/or 3) were simply fans of devouring back matter (as I am). We'll talk more about back matter in an upcoming article.

Next time, we'll talk about deliberately limiting story potential development in writing science fiction. And, yes, you read that right--deliberately limiting.

Happy writing!

Based on Writing the Overarching Series (or How I Sent a Clumsy Girl into Outer Space): 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection by Karen S. Wiesner (release date TBA)

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series, including the romantic science fiction series, ARROW OF TIME CHRONICLES

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Age Ranges for Fiction

Editor Laura Simeon writes about determining whether a children's or YA book is "appropriate" or "inappropriate" for a certain age:

What Makes a Book Age-Appropriate?

Current "battles over so-called 'inappropriate' content in kids’ and teen books" can lead to situations where "school librarians nationwide report that some administrators are incorrectly treating these age recommendations as prescriptive and using them to craft policies that override the expertise of library professionals and limit students’ access to books." But determining which readers certain books are suitable for isn't that straightforward.

Do age guidelines for reading materials refer to vocabulary and sentence complexity or to content? The two criteria don't necessarily align. Simeon points out that a child with advanced literacy skills might be able to read a particular novel's text fluently but not be developmentally ready for the themes it includes or the way it deals with them. Her essay offers several examples of 2022 books that cover potentially sensitive topics (e.g., divorce, mental illness) in ways suitable for middle-school and YA readers, respectively. Conversely, I could mention numerous classic novels with stories fully accessible to preteen readers but with vocabulary and style that could prove challenging for some contemporary twelve-year-olds—for instance, THE SECRET GARDEN, especially the Yorkshire dialect passages.

Simeon lists issues that trouble people who want to restrict students' access to the "wrong" or "inappropriate" books, among them the fear that kids might "lose a romanticized notion of childhood innocence." It is to laugh. The only people who believe in the "innocence" of childhood are adults who've forgotten large portions of their own childhoods. When James Barrie calls children "innocent" in PETER PAN, he couples that adjective with "heartless." It has often baffled me when would-be censors object to having child readers exposed in fiction to phenomena they're almost certainly aware of in reality. "Books can be upsetting and confusing," Simeon acknowledges, "but so can real life. Unlike real life, readers can skim, skip, take breaks, and walk away."

Anyway, age range recommendations for books, like genre categories, are marketing tools. Their chief purpose is to help booksellers and librarians decide where to shelve things. C. S. Lewis says somewhere that any book worth reading at age eight (aside from "books of information") is equally worth reading at any age. I first encountered many of my favorite children's and YA authors in adulthood. I have a vague memory of reading a couple of the Narnia novels in elementary school, but I tracked down the entire series only in my twenties. I've reread them over and over since then. I'd never heard of the Winnie the Pooh stories until my high-school Latin teacher read us a chapter every Friday (while we passed around WINNIE ILLE PU).

My own policy about children and books, based on my own prodigious quantity of "inappropriate" reading from about age eight on, has always been that their reading shouldn't be censored. If they stumble upon a literary work and find it interesting, let them tackle it. If they come across passages "over their heads," they'll be either bored or repelled and will simply skim or skip. As for the few books I owned that I flatly didn't want my underage offspring to read, I kept them securely stowed where the kids didn't know they existed.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Saturday, May 21, 2022

For Art's Sake

For the purposes of today's blog, Art is not an alien god, although, given the evolving meaning of the word "icon", Art could be synonymous.

My title might also allude to Aestheticism..."art for art's sake", also to a line in the romantic song  Art For Art's Sake by 10cc. 

For some weeks, I have been accumulating copyright-related legal blogs to discuss Art Rights (not for the first time), and the Davis vs Pinterest result is a good hook. Pinterest is a great place to display ones cover art; I believe that I have also seen it used by book pirates to advertise their allegedly ill-gotten "collections".

Spoiler: Pinterest won the copyright infringement lawsuit brought against them by a photographer. 

Nevertheless, as with many stories (such as a romance novel), one knows how the story will end almost immediately; the interest lies in how the protagonists get there. 

Likewise, the summary of the court's reasoning in dismissing the photographer's suit, as provided by legal bloggers Frank D. D'Angelo and Marwa Abdulaziz for the multi-service, international law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP, is complex and interesting.

Original Link: 
Lexology Link:  

Possibly, and this is merely an opinion, the plaintiff was a tad too dog-in-the-mangerish.

In Europe, the courts are looking at (but have not resolved) the question of whether cloud services create duplicate copies of copyrighted work, and whether they have any responsibily to copyright owners depending on how cloud storage is used.

It appears that a cloud storage provider is covered by a sort of safe harbor where a lawful owner or licensee stores a copyrighted work for private use. The wrinkle emerges if the cloud product is used for "sharing" copyrighted works. 

Legal bloggers Patricia Ernst and Christiane Stuetzle for the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP summarize the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice, and what it means for private copies stored in a cloud, and whether or not cloud storage providers might have to pay a levy for storing copies of copyrighted works... and who should decide how rights holders might be compensated for the reproductions of their works.

Original Link:  
Lexology Link: 

For a comprehensive, entertaining and thorough explanation of Art rights in the USA, I recommend the Q and A format shared, apparently exclusively, on Lexology by art-dispute expert Gabrielle C, Wilson,  looted-art specialist Yael M. Weitz, international litigator Lawrence M. Kaye, and the probably-storied* Howard N. Spiegler for Park Avenue law firm Kaye Spiegler PLLC


The team explains how a copyright owner proves ownership for the purposes of suing for copyright infringement; whether or not a copyrighted work of art can be displayed without the copyright owner's consent; whether or not copyrighted artwork can be copied for publication in catalogues and advertisements without the copyright owner's permisison... and much more.

Some of the Q and As are merely fascinating, others can be extrapolated to be useful advice to authors and bloggers.

*I opine "probably-storied" because the bio reminds me of at least one Daniel Silva novel sub-plot.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry