Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why Social Justice Storylines Don’t Work

Just a reminder that Declan is on vacation for the next couple of weeks and guest bloggers will be filling in. Today, I'd like to welcome Moira Greyland Peat (author of the Hugo nominated "Story of Moira Greyland") to the Pius Geek blog with her post on Social Justice Story lines.

Yes, I know. We are all supposed to be diverse, and treat every new fad as though it is as “valid” as the traditions and cultural norms spanning thousands of years. But deep down, we know that even though the more sensitive (read: adolescent) members of our culture really want us to validate their folly, it remains folly, and diversity doesn’t work in movies if it eclipses our most basic human needs and drives.

We can see the failure of the social justice storylines all around us. The most famous, of course, can be found in the more recent iterations of the Star Wars saga. No amount of money, CGI or big-name actors has ever equaled the thrill of Luke and Leia swinging over the chasm, or the cliffhanger interchange between Han and Leia where she said “I love you” and he said “I know.”

What passes for “romance” in the first three prequel Star Wars movies was an implausible mess between a preadolescent child and an older teen girl. Creepy enough on its face, it was difficult to believe that Padme Amidala could possibly have seen anything attractive in him. One day, he came to her whimpering and crying about having committed genocide. Genocide! Padme Amidala, the ruler of so many people, was completely unconcerned about Anakin’s distinctly un-manly show of emotion, or the gut-wrenching atrocity he had just committed.

Instead of running like hell, Padme Amidala MARRIED the psychopath, and unsurprisingly, his insanity continued unabated. But oooh! We are meant to be more impressed by the CGI!! Starships and pretty lightsaber duels and Really Cool Abilities!! Padme’s death was reminiscent of that one might find in an operatic heroine like Lucia di Lammermoor: she died of a broken heart. This is coherent for a princess: less so for a career politician. Where in psychological terms, a princess can represent pure nobility and pure emotion, a politician is something else entirely.

I am trying to imagine Hillary Clinton dying of a broken heart over ANYTHING that her erstwhile husband did, from bimbo eruptions to military missteps. Seriously, if Anakin’s genocide does not provoke any emotion in Padme, how could his brutal rejection cause her death?

So now we have “The Force Awakens,” where Rey can magically do anything at all, better than anyone else, despite her low economic status. She can beat a much better trained Sith lord with a sword, despite his obvious reach and height. In a swordfight, this is ludicrous. She can fly starships… could it be that in her culture, flight training is a normal part of slave life? And Finn, who really ought to be a romantic figure, doesn’t get to do a whole lot, because she is The Powerful Leading Woman. The guys stand around, or help Rey Be Impressive. They don’t get to think, or be heroic. Not very inspiring to the guys out there, except for the very few guys who hope that Finn will become a gay love interest. Is this the future of romance in movies? The women save the world and the men turn to each other??

Yes, the Star Wars franchise had a chance for a great romance, and they blew it! After all, what do men and women almost invariably want? Partners, sex, companionship, even (gasp) commitment. Movies which have good love interests pique our interests, and we project ourselves onto the characters. Millions of women wanted to have a love affair like Leia and Han, and couldn’t wait to find out what happened after he was sealed up in the mythical Carbonite! They cared! Does anyone give a fig about Finn and Rey? They couldn’t even manage a kiss.

Wouldn’t it have been more inspiring to show us that even powerful women can still love men and be loved by them? Is the bottom line that an impressive woman must be a single woman? Do powerful women still need men, or can they still choose to have them? Do powerful women regard men as bonbons to be snacked on and forgotten, or is partnership between men and women still necessary in fiction?

For those of us who belong to the human race, the answer is an emphatic YES. We need love and we want romance, and plain old stories of courtship. They give us hope. They inspire us. Will we have a generation of girls dressed like Rey, not bothering with romance because their need for love has been eclipsed by the need to Go Forth and Be Awesome? Does any man want to be like Finn, stuck in the background and un-kissed?

I don’t think so. Romance will always be in style. This is why the original Star Wars will always beat the new ones, until and unless Finn manages to give Rey a really good kiss!



For good storylines with some great romantic tension, check out the Love At First Bite Series


Monday, February 20, 2017

Failure Will Not Be Tolerated

Declan is on vacation for the next two weeks, whether he likes it or not. He has books to write and I can't have him stroking out before book 4 of the Love At First Bite Series is completed. I really want to know how that ends. So, my killer chiweenie Saedie (aka Satan) is guarding the office door to keep him out. (Can't trust G. K. Chesterton aka Satan's minion for this job, he likes everyone.)




Over the next two weeks there will be guest bloggers filling in for Declan, beginning with me.

It's been awhile since I've posted here so I should probably reintroduce myself. I am Dawn Witzke, I design all of Declan's book covers and torture him into letting me read his books before they come out. 


Last week, Declan mentioned failure in his post. Okay, he's mentioned it in other posts as well. And I think a few of his haters have mentioned it as well. So I thought I'd address failure in this blog.

I don't accept failure. Suck it up Sweetheart, Failure will not be tolerated.

From anyone.

SEE THROUGH THE LIES OF FAILURE

The thing about failure is that it is subjective. It's all in how you set up your expectations and how you look at success. It is not an indicator of who you are or your level of talent or skill.

Failure is an indicator that you did not meet the expectations you set for yourself. It does not mean that you can never meet those expectations, only that you haven't...yet. You'll get there eventually, just keep going.

For example, I have my first book coming out in March. Now, if I expect that everyone is going to love it and that I'm going to have sales to the tune of those earned by JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, well I'm going to fail. My expectations are way above what reality will support.

I could wallow in the injustice over people not seeing how great of an author I am. (I am really, buy my book) Or I could reassess my expectations to something that are reasonable. Like say selling a few copies to friends and family because I nagged them into it. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.

Or, I could also look at the fact that I have written a book, which is more than millions of other people have done. Of course, next to Declan's 15 or so books he's published in the same number of years, my lowly one looks like a failure. But, for me, it's a success. I have my first book published. I can check that off and move on to my next goal.

HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF

When things don't go the way you expect, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself, down that margarita and take another run at it. (Maybe have two margaritas...they are yummy) Yup, it gets tiring. Yup, it gets frustrating. Yup, after ten years of writing, even I want to give up.

There is a saying that life is like a car with a huge windshield and iddy bitty mirror. The reason is that you should spend more time looking forward than looking back. It makes sense.

But, sometimes you just need to stop once in a while and look back at all of your successes.

I have a stack of magazines in a plastic tote that includes almost every article I've ever had in print. It's a nice visual of the success I've had as a writer. I also used to make a list of accomplishments, both big and small so that I could "see" how far I've come since starting. When I look back at what I've done rather than focusing on where I'm going (aka what I haven't done yet), I'm always amazed and a little impressed. This keeps me moving forward rather than giving up.

ALTER THE DEAL TO CREATE SUCCESSES

First, never ever ever compare yourself to someone else (like I did earlier) it sets you up for disappointment. You can never follow another's path, you have to forge your own. If you need a visual, make one, then post it so that you can see your progress. If you're moving toward your goal, even if it's very slowly, you are succeeding.

Second, create small goals that are easily accomplished. "Whoohoo. I made a new contact on
Twitter.", "Whoohoo. I got a new review", "Whoohoo. I got dressed like a normal person." They might not seem like much, but like pennies they add up.

Third, reassess your goals on a regular basis. Adjust them accordingly. Goals are not set in stone. If you don't meet the goal, change it or break it down into smaller goals. Make the goal fit work for you.

BECOME THE MASTER

No one Masters anything overnight. It takes years of hard work and dedication. Writing is no different. Some people get lucky and find fame and riches early on, but that is not the norm. The norm is busting your rump trying to get your book noticed in a pile of several million other books.
Success doesn't come with sitting around waiting for something to happen. It takes practice. It takes finding new ways to get where you want to go. It takes having faith that you will get there...eventually.

RELEASE YOUR ANGER

Everyone comes across that one jerk. You know the one. They have to tear other people down because they are unhappy with their own successes. 

Well, this is what I have to say to them...Kiss my bright white ass.

Don't let them destroy your faith in yourself. Don't let them derail your progress. Drive around those losers, focus on your goals and leave them in the dust.

Your successes are yours and they can never be taken from you.

I AM YOUR FATHER

Oh, sorry, got carried away there. No, I'm not your father. I'm not even your mother...unless you're name is Andrew and happen to look like a much taller male version of me...then maybe I am.
Now, go out and be the success I know you are. LET SUCCESS RUN THROUGH YOU

Psst...you. Yes you. The one that just finished reading the post. I've got something for you. A free copy of Bad Date by Declan Finn. Just sign up for his email list to get it. You'll also get 2-3 emails a month from Declan with added extras that no one else gets, plus advance notice of sales and appearances. It's an easy success...go for it.

And check out his books on Amazon.

  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Superman Theme - Sonya Belousova (dir: Tom Grey)

I've called Sonya Belousova the Lindsey Stirling of the piano, and dang, she does it again. Not only does she rock the Supergirl cosplay, but she has one of the best piano arrangements of the Superman theme I've ever heard.

And no, there is no other Superman theme. There is only John Williams.



If you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.


Thanks.

    

Kairos: Sensitivity Readers

Kairos: Sensitivity Readers: Presenting reason number 1,864.979 to abandon the sinking tradpub ship and self-publish: "Sensitivity Readers"

Yeah. So that happened. Read Brian's post above for the full story.

Traditional publishing doesn't seem to have enough troubles right now.  Rising prices on hardcopy books? Overpriced Kindle books? Going toe to toe with a million little Davids chipping away at Goliath? Brick and mortar stores slowly disappearing? Signing on a whole bunch of pro-Clinton, anti-Trump books last year, expecting Trump to lose?

Nah. That's nowhere near ENOUGH! Now, in an effort to hurry along their own demise, they're hiring people whose JOB DESCRIPTION is to be actual gatekeepers.

Wow. I'm blown away at the depth and breadth of their mistake here. It's insane. Who does this? They've just told EVERYONE that only the PC will be accepted. Because "OMG, we can't offend ANYBODY."

Hi. I'm Catholic. My existence offends someone. Suck it up.

A look into depression

In the words of one of the better episodes of M*A*S*H, “Anger turned outward is aggression. Anger turned inward is depression. Anger turned sideways is M*A*S*H.”

While I generally try to go for aggression, or sideways, I do suffer from depression. It's not chemical. It's not the deep abiding black pit that lasts for days, but they can be fairly intense for hours. I think six hours is the record.

I'm not sure how bad this sounds to people, but six hours of this can be … counterproductive. The best description of what I go through it probably found in the Babylon 5 episode “The Hour of the wolf.”
Have you ever heard of the hour of the wolf? …. It's the time between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. You can't sleep, and all you can see is the troubles and the problems and the ways that your life should've gone but didn't. All you can hear is the sound of your own heart.
Extend that to six hours … and make it so that it can be broad daylight and it is indistinguishable from blackest night.

It doesn't even take much to set it off sometimes. The right comment with the right amount of stress, or tired. Or I have a headache and someone mouths off at me.

I'm very tired lately, and let's face it, I've been going through a lot of crap over the past few months. Promotion alone is depressing. There have been a few points recently that put me close to the edge. Trust me, JD Cowan will never know just how much his review of Murphy's Law of Vampires meant to me at the time he posted it.

Recently, someone just trying to be helpful asked me “Why aren't you as upbeat and energetic nowadays as you used to be on your blog?”

That caused me to have a brief review of the last few months. The last year. My life. Where my life could have gone and didn't. The people who should have had my back and didn't. The ones who said they would be there and screwed me over. The people I've trusted and shouldn't. The ones who I thought were stable but turned out to be crazier than a bag of cats.

And this was asked on the 15th, the day after a “holiday” I profoundly despise, where I usually reflect on the sheer amount of crap my love life has been, complete with all of the friendships that have been ruined because I was just too stupid and fell in love with people who should have just remained friends – but it doesn't matter. Because not only will they never talk to me ever again, but they were probably broken anyway … which isn't sour grapes, because that just makes me wonder how stupid I had to be in order to fall for them in the first place.

In fact, I think this is a perfectly good summary of my love life.




But no matter how my past worked in real life, depression is the Kobyashi Maru. There's no way to win. There's no way out.

Welcome to my depression. Brief, but intense. Even though it's only six hours, they're no fun. Everything you enjoy turns to ash. Music you love only hurts you. Anything that you might enjoy does nothing for you – assuming that you can do anything you might enjoy.

And I was assembling yesterday's blog at the time. A reflection on all of the positive things happening around me was a cushion.

Granted, splashing down into the ocean is indistinguishable from splashing down onto concrete if the height is right.

This will be one of the last blogs I post for a while. Remember, this Sunday the radio show will star Matt Bowman as the host, with a panel of authors from the CLFA. The week after will star L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright.

Because, at long last, I'm going to take a break.


If you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.


Thanks.

    

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Making the rounds

I'm not so much lazy this week as I am busy. Silver Empire got back to me with edits for A Pius Man ... actually, they got back to me with them a month ago, but Gmail decided to play games.

Thankfully, more and more people are interested in my lately, and I've made some appearances on their sites.

Bokerah Brumley, who was a guest on the radio show a while back, invited me to do a guest blog.

Book Horde also had me do a guest blog.

And I did an author interview

Oh, and I'm posting on the Superversive SF blog!

And in other news ... I've been suggested for a book of the year. Yes. Really. Both Brian Niemeier and JD Cowan nominated Murphy's Law ofVampires for the 2016 Planetary Award .... I don't even know what that award is, and I'm blown away by the fact that these two enjoyed Murphy's that much. This isn't bad for a novel that I thought would suffer from that "annoying trope of trilogies where the second book is superfluous and is merely treading water to the final book" -- when Mr. Cowan deliberately noted in his review that I had completely and utterly avoided that trope, I was flooded with so much relief, it's hard to describe. I'm flattered, admired, and so blown away, I have to pull out this meme again.



So, yeah, I'm going the rounds apparently.

Not bad for someone with a failing book business, is it? Heh.

Speaking of business ....

If you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.


Thanks.

    

Music Blog: Iron, by Within Temptation



Yes, I know I've posted this before.

It is still awesome.

And this time, I made certain to post the lyric video.


If you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.


    

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

CLFA book bomb, February 2017

It’s the February 2017 CLFA Booknado! Feel the rush as a fresh, bold breeze blasts away tired, stale, establishment fiction and blows in the new, the independent-minded, and the Kindle bargains, too! Read on for this month’s featured titles, and click on any book image to shop.

NEW RELEASES



Live and Let Bite (Love at First Bite Book 3) by Declan Finn

The third book in the Dragon Award nominated “Love at First Bite” series.



The Undercover Captain (Captain Nancy Martin Book 2) by Henry Vogel

It will take every bit of skill Nancy and Erica have to track down the evil genius behind the disappearances. Defeating them will be a different matter entirely.




Letters from Aztlan by John L. Wolf

In a dystopian, post-meltdown United States, a cynical, aging gunfighter receives a letter from an old friend in desperate need of help. He must fight his way across cartel occupied territory to find her.
$1.99 OR LESS



For the dates February 12 and 13, 2017, as reported by book author.


 

99¢

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Fringe meets Narnia at Hogwarts
 

99¢

The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel (A Book of Unexpected Enlightenment 2) by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Rachel Griffin returns for more rousing adventure and humor!


 

FREE


Tears of Paradox (Storms of Transformation Book 1) by Daniella Bova

America has fallen to a Marxist bureaucracy, and the parents of an unborn child go underground to keep their baby’s existence a secret.
 

99¢

A Place Outside the Wild (Z-Day Book 1) by Daniel Humphreys

Eight years after Z-Day, the surviving remnants of mankind face the unknown. The scars of the long war run deep. And hope is a dangerous thing when the real enemy might just be the survivors themselves.
 

FREE

Bulletproof Vestments (Father Jay Book 1) by Jane Lebak

A former gang member has tracked down the man who ratted out his brother 10 years ago. It’s time for some good old-fashioned revenge, except the man in question is disabled. And he’s a priest. And no one’s going to let him go down without a fight.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Review: Appendix N, by Jeffro Johnson.

This is a review of Appendix N, ... or, Jeffro Johnson's big book of SFF.

My experience with RPG's boils down to video games, and I don't even mean Final Fantasy (I've only played VI and XII), but Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (which inspired my system for vampires).

So I went into Appendix N could, with no idea what the title referred to. I knew very little about Dungeons & Dragons, and even less about Gary Gygax, and no idea of the differences between version one, version two, and version nine (Is there even a version nine? I wouldn't even know one way or another).

For the record, the title refers to the Appendix N of the original D&D dungeon master's manual, wherein Gygax highlighted and cited all of the various and sundry works that inspired the facets of the world of D&D.

It's a reading list.
APPENDIX N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons is a detailed and comprehensive investigation of the various works of science fiction and fantasy that game designer Gary Gygax declared to be the primary influences on his seminal role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. It is a deep intellectual dive into the literature of SF/F's past that will fascinate any serious role-playing gamer or fan of classic science fiction and fantasy.

Author Jeffro Johnson, an expert role-playing gamer, accomplished Dungeon Master and three-time Hugo Award Finalist, critically reviews all 43 works and authors listed by Gygax in the famous appendix. In doing so, he draws a series of intelligent conclusions about the literary gap between past and present that are surprisingly relevant to current events, not only in the fantastic world of role-playing, but the real world in which the players live.
And this spans .... everybody, really. Edgar Rice Burrows, Fred Saberhagen, Robert E. Howard. Lord Dunsany, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Fredric Brown .... I'm not listing all of them here. Many of them I had barely heard of, and some I had never heard of. The end result of a series of critical essays into a -- by and large -- literary world of pre-Tolkein fantasy.

This not only provides the footnotes for Gary Gygax's world, but a meticulous study of each element thereof.

At the end of the day, this is also a study of what has been lost, buried alive under a mountain of grimdark, postmodern feces claiming to be "edgy" fantasy, while they are merely just indulging in the miserable. George RR Martin, I'm looking at you.

Appendix N shows just how fantastic fantasy can be when not bogged down by the arbitrary and capricious rules of "reality," where "the real" does not equal "the true and the beautiful," but equals the miserable to such an extent that it thus becomes unreal.

Imagine the epic rap battle of history between Tolkein and Martin, only imagine it done across an entire genre.

This is an impressive work of literary history. In fact, the only problem this work has is in its footnotes. Yes, just the footnotes. You can tell that this is based off of a series of blogs, since some of the footnotes refer to works covered in other months instead of other chapters. And .... that's it. Considering the effort it takes to make a book out of blogs posts -- and trust me, I know -- this is quite impressive.

Five stars all the way. For anyone who wants to see the entire history of a genre at a glance, you need to own this one. Buy it now.


And, while you're buying this one, f you haven't already, 
check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.