Monday, March 30, 2015

Rape is Not Entertainment

[Do I even have to say "trigger warnings ahead"?]

I have some odd followers on Twitter.

I have members of the Catholic Writer's Guild who follow me, because I'm a Catholic writer.

I have conservatives and libertarians follow me, because I'm politically ... complicated.

 I've been re-tweeted by Larry Correia, lord of gun porn.
Sarah Garlits

And then there's Sarah Garlits, aka Sarah Blake. Who's more ... porn porn. Sort of.

For those of you who don't know Madam Garlits, yes, she is an adult entertainer. No, I don't mean porn actress ... she used to be, but now does burlesque variants. It's complicated.

And I'm getting off topic...

How we tripped over each other on Twitter, I don't recall. I don't know why she follows me, but I find her interesting. And if you're new here, for me, "interesting" is a compliment.

She is also a rape survivor.

Garlits maintains a blog for abuse survivors, and she's very, very well-adjusted, considering her back story. She documents her day-to-day recovery, researches the topic thoroughly, and it's always an interesting day when someone on the internet teaches me something.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Battle of An-Nasiriyah

An acquaintance of mine from high school was in this fight and thought I should take a look at this.

I read it, and thought you should read it, too.
The story is taken from the Facebook page of the Battle of An-Nasiriyah Reunion. Monday, March 23, is the anniversary.  Remember, this is when there was a Saddam, and Iraq had an army that wanted to kill them. 

This is neither my story, nor my writing. Trust me, no one with an ounce of sense would let me near a battle zone. I'd probably shoot in the wrong direction.

As this is not my writing, if this gets taken down due to copyright of some sort, don't be shocked.

There will also be swearing. Why? Because this was written by a man who works for a living.

This was one long day from Hell. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

A FANifesto

"We hear that you want to redefine fandom."

Apparently, it has become a thing out on the web to stigmatize anyone "normal."

"Normal" in this case is odd, because this version of normal casts so wide a net that, for the first time in my life, even I come under it.

Basically, if you are a straight white male who does not read "important" science fiction, by the "right" authors, you are not a true science fiction fan.

Oh reeeeeaaaally?

Wait for it ...

Wait for it ...




*Pant* *Pant* *Pant* *Pant*


As I was saying, this is an idea that is devoid of serious content and thought. It makes one wonder what the author was smoking at the time that this particular proclamation was made.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Developing Character: Kim Bauer

I just finished reading a book that was .... well, it could have been better.  Don't get me wrong, it was perfectly fine from the primary plot of a military thriller. The author is a friend of mine, so the names have been changed to protect, well, me.

Then there was the female lead.  The character, let's call her Rebekah, has come back from a rape, and trained herself with all the makings of a vigilante. She works with a cop in learning MMA, has a black belt in Tae kwon do. She shoots, has no problem taking fire, and yet, unless directly threatened, she has all the survival instincts of a guppy. Seriously, she has not one, not two, but FOUR stalkers throughout the book, friends and family warning her about three of them, and yet STILL persists in not seeing them as a threat? The victims on the tv show Stalker have better survival instincts! Gah!

While this would not have been out of place in a straight romance plot, it felt strange.  Rebekah already has plenty to do in this book just trying to not get killed while around her a friend who has been targeted by terrorists. She could have had an entire plot thread dedicated to gun and run, then it stops.  She makes few if any decisions that impact the plot. She's just sort of ... there.

And Rebekah is annoying me because she doesn't impact her own story. She doesn't DO anything except emotionally support a "wounded puppy" so he saves her at the end of the book. She has one shining moment of bad-assery when terrorists come for her friend, and then ... nothing. Nada. She has to be saved by everyone else in her life when it comes to her own story. She makes no choices.  And the worst part is, her actions are inconsistent with the character already established. A rape victim, who's built herself into a badass, trusts no one ... but is so trusting and helpless in this book, I want to bash my head against a wall.

It feels like there were too many moving parts around Rebekah, in order to give the illusion that she has a plot of her own in this book.

All I could think of was Kim Bauer.

If you have ever watched 24, you have learned of the awesomeness that is Kim Bauer.

If you've seen the series past the first season / Day 1, you know of all of the mistakes that were Kim Bauer.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Agents of SHIELD No Longer Sucks (Yay?)

So, that took forever.

Everyone knows just how much I have personally hated Agents of SHIELD, and the crap they've pulled over their year and a half of existence. From the start, they had problems. "Original" characters who were as original as cardboard cutouts. Plots that had nothing to do with the Marvelverse until The Winter Soldier film bigfooted them like Godzilla.  They could barely be bothered to bring out minor, insignificant parts of the Marvelverse for street-level villainy.    We won't even go into the creepy sex relationship.  And the less said about how much Arrow beats them like a drum isn't even funny.

Then there was this year, and even the Novel Ninja likes it now.  To start with, they had an overarching plot by bringing in Hydra as a villain. About time.  They had some of the crap from last year come up again, making it relevant. Also, about time. Hell, I'm happy to see these people realize that they're a comic book show around a spy comic book. Which means let's do some f**king espionage, people!  Seriously, we had to take most of last season to get to some real, honest-to-God spy stuff, and they went into it all the way this year. It's a nice change. You know, a plot and all, that always helps.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Daredevil is here

Yes, the opening narration is by the Kingpin, played by Vincent D'Nofrio. This will be interesting.

Matt Bowman has said this looks a lot like a western. Personally, I think this looks a lot like Batman.  You know, the "how much of a difference is there between Batman and the people he fights?" sort of things, where the answer comes very, very close to "Not much."

This will all hit Netflix at once in April. We'll see then just how much fun they decide to have with it.

Then again, the other Netflix series, House of Cards, is dark as night. So, we'll see just how dark the Marvelverse will get.

Then again, Killgrave will be the enemy for the Jessica Jones series, so I'm thinking "pretty dark."

Christian Cliches

Yes, you can get this on a shirt.
Well, THAT was ... typical.

A writing group that I hang out with posted an article by an atheist, and ... I guess it could have been worse.

The article talks about dismissing Islamic terrorism by talking about "Christian  violence."  Of course, it brings up the crusades. And the myth of atheists who are perfectly harmless.

It ALSO points out that Christian "violence" in the past hundred years is virtually non-existent.  He even notes that the abortionists killed since Roe vs Wade is in the single digits -- like I did.

Half-right is better than nothing.

Sigh.  Some of these are so old I want to bash my brains out.

If we're talking about "violent" examples, then the examples of militant / violent behavior are:
  • Islam: ISIS / jihad.
  • Atheism: The Soviets.
  • Christianity: The Crusades.
... the Crusades? Hmm.  Funny, weren't there witch trials? Wasn't there the evil Inquisition?

Problem: if witch trials were started under a religious mandate, the authority was from a secular, government, figure, not religious (like a church). It's no coincidence that the big witch scares only happened in areas where religion was considered subordinate to the state. Oh, you didn't know that? Funny thing.

Then there are the big bad Crusades.  Oooooo.... Yes, it was religious... And a little practical.  Very little. Remember, the nobles of Europe bankrupted themselves in an effort to retake the Holy Lands, so it wasn't about profit.  The mandate was to clear out the Holy Lands. Period. Sacking Constantinople, et al, were the people who slipped the leash. 

Also, those who sacked Constantinople were excommunicated from the Church.  Didn't know that, either, didja?

Don't worry, I didn't even know that last part until now either.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Supergirl reveal

Brought to you by Greg Berlanti, the man who brought you The Flash and Arrow on tv.  Supergirl, the tv show.

It'll be on CBS, not CW, but Berlanti has said "It's my show, try to stop me from having it as the same universe."

I don't know about you folks, but I like it.  And Melissa Benoist is cute. I'll take her / it.

Yes, I know I did two blogs today, but whatever.

Review: Tears of Paradox

The Pius Trilogy discussed the war on God, waged by your standard, everyday elitist schmucks who are more concerned with their own whims, and their own political power, than any right given to faith, the faithful, or respect for God.

Heck, in  A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller, I give them what they want, and I literally put the Pope on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. After all, the Pope is against things like abortion, women priests, birth prevention (sorry, “birth control”), and other horrible, horrible stances [read: sarcasm].

As part of the Pope’s defense, I chronicled a small sample of what the world has been doing lately in its war on God.

Tears of Paradox is what happens if that war is lost.
The Storms of Transformation are here, bringing upheaval, division and isolation. As the nation fundamentally transforms, small-town America is caught in the whirlwind.
Jason married the girl next door. He and Michelle dreamed of raising their children among family and friends in their idyllic, peaceful hometown. But then the Storms begin. Friendships disintegrate, fathers and sons become enemies, and trust is a thing of the past. The old ways have become what those in power term evil. What used to be evil is now the law. The evil brings with it a creeping darkness, gradually overshadowing the town’s inhabitants and turning their lives upside-down.
The Storms force pregnant Michelle to hide alone in a basement, far from home. Jason remains in town, living a lie as he tries to conceal the truth from the authorities. But will their own flesh-and-blood betray them? The town keeps many secrets. How did such a thing ever come to pass?
We've got a two-tier story going on here. It’ll throw some at first, especially since they take place at two different points in time. Both points of view are from a married couple, Jason and Michelle. Michelle narrates a point in the future, where — as James Clavell once put it — they have won. Jason narrates a tale of love and personal redemption, leading up to the dystopia that Michelle talks of. After the first chapter, you catch on rather quickly. But it takes some time to adapt.

The two narratives compliment each other perfectly, each offering commentary on the other. It’s a nice balancing act that I don’t see that often — attempted but failed on Lost, mostly perfected on Arrow — and it works, once you see what Madam Bova is doing.

The sad thing here is that there’s nothing that novel about this dystopia. Easily 90% of it is just the reasonable and rational conclusion of current insanity. When exactly do we get to the point where private citizens are forced to keep Christmas lights indoors because atheists can’t be bothered teaching their children about religion? Healthcare has already been expanded to include abortion, so what’s the next logical step in the progression? Conscience laws have been under attack for years, how long until they’re gone completely?

A lot of people use the term “slippery slope” to be dismissive. Tears of Paradox shows us that it’s more than some political talking point. It also shows us that the slope doesn’t need to be all that slippery, because we’re already halfway down the incline. It’s what happens when good people stop fighting, because evil doesn’t sleep, doesn’t rest, and doesn't stop.
Tears of Paradox is also a journey about running on faith when there’s nothing left to run on. Faith, a lot of prayer, knowing when to talk away, when to run, and when to fight.

When I was in college, I good a course on the philosophy of literature. Most of it consisted of traditional Catholic books — Walker Percy, Graham Greene, Bernanos, Gabriel Marcel, Endo, a few others. At the end of the day, Daniella Bova belongs with all of them. For those who are overly well-read in Catholic literature, imagine if Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins was instead written by Graham Greene, with Percy coming in after to make it less suicide-inducing.

At the end of the day, Tears of Paradox is a work of literature, but don’t hold that against it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A new trailer for Avengers Age of Ultron

Some thoughts.

More character.  Yay!

They're finally elaborating on how Tony Stark's responsible for all this.  About time. It only took three trailers.

Oh, yes, and the robot drones look even creepier than ever.

Are they shipping Black Widow and Hulk?

Oh look, the glowstick of destiny is back.

And I think Black Widow is about to steal THIS movie too.  When is she getting her own damn film, already?

Yes. I can see Joss Whedon's fingerprints on this one.  Just from "Is that the best you can do?"

... And Black Widow seems to have Wolverine's claws now?  Huh.

And enter, Vision.... if you don't know who Vision is, dang, is it a long, long story.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Plots within plots: Subplotting

Ah, subplots, when you need to give your story a depth of character that it might not otherwise have. Granted, the way I look at them is probably cheating. I see character arcs and romance story threads as subplots, too. Then again, I can be a romantic sap at times. Personally, I've never had a subplot that has not impacted the main plot in some way.

If you've never read the Tom Clancy novel The Sum of all Fears, there is an entire story thread involving a sequoia being shipped from Japan to California for the construction of a Bhuddist temple. And this goes on for pages upon pages. All the while the reader is wondering “What does this tree have to do with a story about Islamic terrorists rebuilding a nuclear bomb to be used at the superbowl in order to spark World War III?”

Then the tree falls off the ship that's carrying it, and nearly hits a nuclear submarine. The sub thinks it's under attack and we're off to the races. Growing up, when multiple plot threads collided, my family called it “The tree hitting the sub.”

If you want a subplot that has little or nothing to do with the main one, I will point you to the David Weber novel Honor Among Enemies. The premise is simple: the heroine, Honor Harrington, is politically inconvenient, and she's packed off with several ships, mostly loaded with the scum of the fleet. One subplot involves how one of the honest, forthright crewman has to be trained to fight back against the dregs of the fleet. It's fun, satisfying, and while it doesn't really impact the main plot, it does show the reader the ramifications of the main plot on people other than our primary cast.

In my own work, I may be too single-minded to do anything but have subplots that tie into the main. For A Pius Man, I even had the love story feed into the main story. That one was so integral, if it had failed, so would the rest of the story. 

But, then again, if Terry Goodkind could have true love save the world in his book series, then why couldn't I?

Though, come to think of it, there is at least one book I've done that did not technically need a subplot. The book was A Pius LegacyIn it, the UN had declared the Pope a war criminal – very long story. The subplot revolved around a hapless writer and historian brought in in order to be counter-spin to the enemy. Then the enemy decides to shoot back with real bullets. Was it needed? Maybe not. It didn't add a whole heck of a lot to the plot, but it added a lot to the story.

After all, in a war of politics, it doesn't exactly help if one side isn't actively dueling with the enemy. As much as I like to joke that my Pius books consist of nonfiction slipped in between gun battles, it can't all be about shooting bad guys to pieces. Damnit.

Heck, by the end of the series, the amount of politics that crept into the war that develops needed a subplot all by itself. It had to be there in order to explain a war between the head of the CIA and President “Barry,” and why a lot of countries don't act the way sane people would expect them to. 

However, that subplot was more like a sneaky Clancy subplot, and at the end of the novel, the geopolitics involved wound up impacting the main plot like a truck t-boning a volvo.

In all of these case, these subplots were planned. They were reasoned out, outlined, thought through, and I knew exactly what I was doing...

Adjusted for value of "I know what I'm doing."

In Codename: Winterborn, my hero, Kevin Anderson, is being hunted by a guild of mercenaries – imagine an umbrella organization for private military contractors. Some of these mercenaries are good soldiers who want a paycheck. Some are patriots who want access to good technology, and can serve their country better in the private sector. And some are plain old sociopaths who want to be paid to indulge in their hobbies of mass slaughter. 

While Kevin goes through his own personal checklist of politicians who won't be missed, he gains the respect of some mercenaries, pitting some of his hunters against other members of the guild. The internal conflict of the Mercenaries' Guild gains Kevin some strange allies that keep him alive at some interesting moments. I hadn't planned it, I hadn't considered it, it just sort of happened.

Yes, sometimes a subplot is just what happens when your world decides that it has something to add to your novel.