Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Generic Shoujo Garbage, I Think I Love You

Today Jon Del Arroz is filing in for Declan while he's on vacation. Be sure to check out Jon's book Star Realms: Rescue Run and blog.

This last weekend, I discovered a Japanese drama by the name of Good Morning Call. The premise is that two high school students thought they separately rented their own apartment, with the intention of living alone. When they arrived, they found the place had been double rented. The reasons they can’t back out are thin, but that doesn’t matter as the story progresses. Epic trope-filled relationship drama ensues, filled with love triangles and evil popular girl clubs.

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Shoujo is a whole manga/anime genre dedicated to this kind of storytelling.  It’s aimed at a young teenaged female audience and actually can come in all shapes and forms. A great fantasy series, Fushigi Yuugi, is a tale from the 90s where two middle school girls get transported back into a magical ancient China. While a plot does whirl around them, what’s most central to the story is the relationship between Miaka and a brooding man who has taken it upon himself to be her protector. It goes through all sorts of stages as other characters try to date Miaka, including the Emperor, but their souls are destined to be together.

I find myself loving the trope of that brooding man who deep down will protect the woman at any cost, even if he’s stoically focused on whatever his actual problems are.  It’s fun watching the female protagonists pick away the layers to find out the trauma that brought them to this point. In Good Morning Call, Uehara’s parents died in an accident when he was young, and he quite literally has to fend for himself with little to no support. Tamahome in Fushigi Yuugi has a similar story, as he appears greedy on the service, but in truth is solely providing for little brothers and sisters in his family who are dirt poor and have no one else to help them. As the women in these stories uncover these layers, they  are justified in their intense love for these men who, at the beginning, appear to be selfish idiots.

The main focus in these stories is always about coming into your own and discovering love. And that’s what makes it so exciting. That intense emotion that we had as teenagers IS silly, and causes us to do the most ridiculous things. While a lot of this anime can come across as immature and trite, it creates fun because of that. The way that these shows blend comedic humor in situations, with intense love pangs, and very often tragedy that accompanies it, actually pushes the full emotional spectrum and creates more three-dimensional characters than a lot of western stories.
At the same time, almost all of shoujo stories are heavily trope-filled. I can predict almost every episode of Good Morning Call as it gets into the opening scenes of an episode. It completely relies on the character moments and your love of the characters to make the show work, as do most of these series. Nana was a series that had a lot of the same scenarios: girl going out to live on her own for the first time, trying desperately to find love, looking in the wrong places and ending up in some awkward situations. It still stands completely distinct because of how the unique characters interact in other ways.

My favorite in the genre is an anime called Your Lie In April. We have two high school students, but this one is actually from the male perspective. He’s a dorky kid, and finds a blonde goddess who plays music on such a high emotional level that it floors him. He’s also got a hang up in a trope where his mother died (typical to find orphans in these shows) at a young age, and she was the reason that he played the piano, consequently leading him to never play since. His love for this girl is so pure, and comes out through his music, which she prods him into taking up again. She pushes him to excellence, and he overcomes his mental blocks through love and through playing. It’s really beautiful, and there is quite a bit of tragedy in it which I won’t spoil as the show  makes for a satisfying, cathartic experience.

In my own writing, I’ve pushed the boundaries in science fiction and fantasy of how much romance plays a central role to the story. Some have criticized me for that, but I find that these types of human connections transcend situations and genre, which makes it fun to focus on. These shows, while often trite and silly, do firm up those relationship elements to an extent where it helps to create very real characters.

Declan himself pushed the boundaries of vampire horror in Murphy’s Law of Vampires with his own take on the relationships of the dead. It’s really fun to watch, and in our genre, I find that these tropes are not explored nearly enough. You, dear reader, may want to check out some shoujo yourself to connect with feelings you haven’t explored in years, or to find a way to add some depth to genre writing. I’ll be here to chat and be a shoulder to cry on when you finish watching any of these series.

Check out: Fushigi Yuugi (Fantasy), Aria (science fantasy), Your Lie In April (Modern, light supernatural), Nana (Modern, no supernatural)





Don't forget to sign up for Declan's mailing list. His short, Bad Date is still available for free to new subscribers.









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


Monday, February 27, 2017

Show, Don't Tell In Song

John Earle is filling in for Declan today who is still locked out of the office.


Occasionally I get to work with writers who feel they need to tell the reader how a character feels about a statement from another, or an event. I usually advise them to “Show, don’t tell.”

Nothing new there... except many seem to have a hard time with the concept. Oh, they GET it. It’s just hard to know how to DO it.

I like to take a tip from songwriters. Some of them can show me an entire story occurring over several years using just three or four short verses. Here’s what I sometimes use as an example. Are you familiar with the George Strait song “I Can Still Make Cheyenne?”

Lyrics

She heard his voice on the other end of the line
She wondered what was wrong this time
She never knew what his calls might bring
With a cowboy like him it could be anything
And she always expected the worst in the back of her mind.

He said, "It's cold out here and I'm all alone,
I didn't make the short go again and I'm coming home.
I know I've been away too long.
I never got a chance to write or call
And I know this rodeo has been hard on us all
But I'll be home soon and honey is there something wrong?"


[Chorus:]

She said, "Don't bother comin' home.
By the time you get here I'll be long gone.
There's somebody new and he sure ain't no rodeo man."
He said, "I'm sorry it's come down to this.
There's so much about you that I'm gonna miss.
But it's alright baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne.
Gotta go now baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne.

He left that phone danglin' off the hook
Then slowly turned around and gave it one last look
Then he just walked away
He aimed his truck toward that Wyoming line
With a little luck he could still get there in time
And in that Cheyenne wind he could still hear her say.

[Chorus]


If you want to hear it, here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj3O-uK6NGk

The first stanza sets the scene. I figure that in paragraph form it would be written in three sentences, punctuated like this:

Her telephone rang 'bout a quarter to nine. She heard his voice on the other end of the line; she wondered what was wrong this time. She never knew what his calls might bring—
with a cowboy like him it could be anything—and she always expected the worst in the back of her mind.

In those three sentences we know that the two are apart, that his infrequent calls often mean “something’s wrong” since she thinks, “this time.” We learn he’s a cowboy, thus it could be “anything,” and we gather that it’s usually bad since she always expects the worst. In just those three sentences, we are “shown” a lot, but the hook is set. We want to know what “it” is this time. We assume it’s evening, and the tension is palpable.

But look at what we learn from the next three sentences; all dialogue from him:

He said, "It's cold out here and I'm all alone; I didn't make the short go again and I'm coming home. I know I've been away too long. I never got a chance to write or call,
and I know this rodeo has been hard on us all, but I'll be home soon... and Honey, is there something wrong?"

We’re immediately in his head. From his three sentences we learn that he’s down and out. He wants her to know that he’s alone, so he mentions it almost first thing. Why? Out of guilt? Has he been alone all along, or just now? Why does he feel the need to tell her; shouldn’t she assume he’s been alone? Hmmm. Cold and alone? Looking for sympathy. He’s trying to work her. “... didn’t make the short go again.” Translation: he’s about out of money, so he’s heading back to Mama. He’s feeling guilty, and his guilt forces an admission: “I know I’ve been away too long. I never got a chance to write or call. I know this rodeo’s been hard on us all...” Wow. We can see him humble, cowering, almost crawling. He says, “I know...” twice, trying to convince her he can change. And he says, “...hard on us all.” There’s a family here, not just a man and a woman. He’s left her with the kid(s) to do his own thing. He knows who it’s been hardest on.

“But I’ll be home soon...” He’s hopeful, wanting to end on a positive. But when he doesn’t get his hoped-for reprieve (we assume there’s only silence), he tries to sound concerned, “...and Honey” (Oooo, a pet name! THAT oughta make her feel better!) “...is there something wrong?” What could possibly be wrong? I’ve apologized, I’m coming home soon and everything will be fine. We can almost hear him teetering between hope and desperation, figuring out what he needs to say next to get her to come around.

She lowers the boom. No gentle build up, no hope of reprieve. It’s a done deal.

She said, "Don't bother comin' home. By the time you get here, I'll be long gone.

There's somebody new, and he sure ain't no rodeo man." Three short sentences. You can hear the finality and the disgust. She’s made her plans and is on her way out of there tonight, or tomorrow for sure. She sums up his sins and his shortcomings and their incompatibility in her final words, “...he sure ain’t no rodeo man.” Just six words. She knows what he is, and she will have no further part of it. Whatever they had, it’s over. And that’s all she has to say.

But do we need a description of his countenance, mood, attitude, emotions to “see” him? No. His simple response in dialogue without any descriptors paints the clearest of pictures.

He said, "I'm sorry it's come down to this. There's so much about you that I'm gonna miss.

But it's alright baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne. Gotta go now baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne.” You can hear the resignation mixed with relief in those words. He knew! He knew it was over, but they hadn’t admitted it to each other so it didn’t seem real. Now it’s real, and his path forward is clear. There’s no need to argue, plead, cajole or deny.

“I’m sorry... I’ll miss you... But it’s alright, because now I can do what I want to do without so much guilt.”

So few words, almost no adjectives or adverbs, yet we get such a clear picture. That’s showing, not telling.

As for the rest; why didn’t he hang up the phone? Then, he gave it one last look before walking away to his truck. I think it’s because we are being SHOWN that he was torn; he didn’t want to be the one to sever the connection they had once had. He remembered how good it used to be, but his rodeo addiction was too strong and he knew he was giving in to it despite being tugged toward her.

Here you could say we are being told as much as shown:

He left that phone danglin' off the hook,
Then slowly turned around and gave it one last look.
Then he just walked away.
He aimed his truck toward that Wyoming line;
With a little luck he could still get there in time.
And in that Cheyenne wind he could still hear her say...

But I think this is also showing. We are told of his actions, and thoughts, but they give us more insight into his real feelings and emotions which are shown by his actions.

Okay, enough. Clearly this song is a favorite of mine. In those few verses we get enough hints of the man’s life before and after this one phone call that a novel, or a movie screenplay could be written.

I love songs that do that.


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


Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Catholic Geek with Lamplighter and Wright 02/26

Catholic Geek Radio with Lamplighter and Wright 02/26 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:




Rachel Griffin and Sigfried Smith will interview characters from other books written by John C. Wright and L. Jagi Lamplighter.

Yup. I'm still not there. The Wrights will be.


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

And if you have, please leave a review.


Thanks.

    

Friday, February 24, 2017

Run And Hide by Joy Villa

At the Grammy's a brave singer by the name of Joy Villa wore a Trump dress. Personally, I think the cut of the dress is fabulous as is her amazing smile. That takes a lot of guts to pull that off at the Grammys. 

Her music isn't so bad either. 




Don't forget to sign up for Declan's mailing list. His short, Bad Date is still available for free to new subscribers. 


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


Thursday, February 23, 2017

View From The Cheap Seats

Guest bloggers are filling in for Declan while he is on vacation. Today Paul Piatt is here with his views on politics and culture.

From where I'm sitting way up here in the nose-bleed section, it sure looks like Barack Obama kept his word about fundamentally transforming the United States of America.  Andrew Breitbart is credited with observing that politics flow from culture.  If this is true, then Barack Obama poisoned the cultural headwaters of America, and it's above flood stage.

I've only been around for half a century and politically aware for about the last 15 years or so, but I cannot remember a time when everything was so hyper-politicized.  Consider the Super Bowl.  Most of the buzz before, during, and after the game was about whether the half-time performance would be a big in-ya-face moment to the President, how exciting, progressive, and impactful the advertisements were, and how the flow of the game mirrored the 2016 election.  People were rooting against the Patriots simply because some of the people in the organization had amicable relationships with the President.  Of all the reasons to hate on the Patriots (and as a Steelers fan I know many), THAT'S the one they selected?  It's mind-boggling. 

Political beliefs are now our national measuring stick.  If you own a clothing line and you express support for the wrong side, you can expect a boycott, some clever but probably inaccurate memes, and your celebrity endorsements to vanish.  “Hey, let's go see a movie tonight.  How about ______?”  “No way!  That movie was directed by __________, who supports _______________.”  Sitcoms, sketch comedy, late night hosts, music videos, the list goes on and on.  All poisoned with the venom of partisan politics.

Some folks might want to point to President Trump as the cause for all this angst.  He is certainly a polarizing figure, but his presidency is a product of Obama's legacy of fomenting strife and division.  That's all Obama had to offer.  Truthfully, the Left is legislatively dead; they have nothing but the same tried-and-failed policy proposals they've always had.  That's why they keep changing their label, from Democrat to Liberal to Socialist to Progressive – it's just brand new lipstick on the same ugly pig.

The 2016 election results certainly disappointed a great many people.  I appreciate how much effort and passion they put into supporting their candidate.  Unfortunately, many of them are just unable to process the loss and move on.  Instead, they insist #NotMyPresident and use every opportunity to broadcast their opposition to the new administration.  Some people had to get guidance on how to “survive” a family Thanksgiving or Christmas because of who their family voted for.  Some folks chose not to get together at all.  The other day I read where a woman initiated divorce proceedings because of who her husband voted for.  Madness, I say!

President Trump won a close race.  His margin of victory in the “Blue Wall” states that put him over the top (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania) wasn't all that great, and had the wife of The Man From Grope Hope, Arkansas, not been such a miserable candidate she might have won them.  Republicans would do well to remember that and moderate their “scorched earth” urges.  I believe their best hope for ensuring the Democrat party remains the minority party for years to come lies with peeling off Democrats who were left behind or demonized by the identity politics of the Obama administration while simultaneously finding ways to work with traditional Democrat party leaders like Senator Manchin, Jack Webb, and Representative Gabbard. 


Note that I am NOT saying the GOP should surrender their advantage, that they should try and make nice with pit vipers like Pelosi and Schumer, nor should they hold back pushing forward a bold legislative agenda designed to reinvigorate and restore this nation.  I'm saying do all that and more, but don't make enemies of the folks on the other side who are open to sane policies.


I do my share of making fun of Leftists, mostly because they are so entertaining to watch.  That said, I've been making an effort to avoid confrontations that I know will go nowhere.  My SJW snowflake and I were sitting in front of the TV the other night and she flipped over to MSNBC which was aflame with the latest crisis of Trumpian proportions.  This has been dangerous territory for us in the past, but she turned the TV off and said, “Dad, I'm exhausted by all this.  How do politicians sleep at night?”  I laughed, because I feel the exact same way.  

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 the Last Survivors Series if you like dark fiction:




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Revenge Is Best Served With Success

Just a reminder...bzzt...Declan...bzzt...vacation...bzzt...hey...bzzt...what...bzzzzzzzttttttt...

Hi there my fellow Finnians (fans of Declan Finn of course, and you have to admit it sounds better than my fellow Pius Geekians, right?) my name is Richard Paolinelli and I’ve commandeered Declan’s blog today.

I’ve been a professional writer in one form or another for over thirty years now – and yes I swear I just felt at least six more grey hairs sprout out of the top of my head – and for the last couple of years I’ve been focusing most of my efforts on writing novels.

As part of the marketing strategy for my recent releases I’ve been hitting several circuits, radio shows, online webzine interviews and the occasional guest blog post, like this one. At almost all of the stops I’ve made I’m asked the same question: “What motivated you to write?”

What they are asking is what made me start writing and my stock answer has been that I began writing little stories as a very young child as my dad’s drilling business moved us from one state to the next all across the United States and just kept on writing as I got older.

I started writing professionally as a freelancer back in 1984, got my first fiction credit as the lead writer for a comic book, Seadragon, in 1986 and became a sportswriter for daily newspapers in 1991. In 2013 I retired from sports writing and spent two years researching and writing a sports non-fiction book before turning to fiction in 2015.

So, what I’d like to do here on this blog today is address the question that they should be asking instead: What motivates me to continue to write after over three decades of pounding typewriter keys and computer keyboards?

Mostly, it’s because I love storytelling. Whether it was a game story or a feature on an athlete or a fictional tale conjured up from my imagination, I love putting together a story to inform or entertain. And while the three awards I have picked up along the way were very nice, hearing from readers how much they enjoyed reading something I wrote is a whole lot better.

But what about the times I got the negative reviews – the honest ones from readers that just didn’t like what I wrote as well as the politically motivated ones from people who can’t separate politics from any aspect of their life – or the rejection letters/e-mails saying my work didn’t meet a publisher’s standards?

Nowadays, I’m not bothered so much by the rejections, or even the criticisms. More often than not I can find a nugget within that I can use to improve my writing. But in the early days the “no thanks” letters and the negative critiques cut deep. And while I was, and still am, too stubborn to give it up, I can certainly understand why some would-be writers packed up their typewriters or deleted their word processors from their computer when presented with a rejection letter or two.

It isn’t easy to put yourself out there and it is certainly no fun to take the kind of hits you take when the answer is in the negative.

In my case, I was introduced to the dark side of writing early on. At the tender age of 14 I wrote what I thought was a nice little sci-fi/horror short story about a Coast Guard ship sailing through a thick bank of fog. The ship picks up a distress call from another vessel but is unable to locate the ship. The signal is lost as the fog bank dissipates an hen the ship docks at its home base, the crew is stunned to discover the ship they head from had been lost at sea – twenty years before. The story ends with the captain of the lost ship, still trapped in the fog, still calling for help that will never come.

I typed up the final draft, neatly double spaced on 20-lb paper and sent it off in the mail to a magazine that published such stories. Three weeks later I received a letter, a rejection letter, of course.

But instead of your standard “thanks-for-submitting-but-your-story-isn’t-what-we’re looking-for-and-good-luck-with-your-future-writing” letter, I instead got a long-distance beaten-to-a-pulp-in-a-dark-alley rejection letter from the magazine’s editor.

Basically, the letter stated that my story was the worst thing he’d ever seen hit his desk in his career and I should cease insulting the craft of writing by attempting to do it any longer and apply myself to something I was clearly more suited for – flipping burgers.

Now, about 99.9% of people on this planet would have been completely crushed and would have packed it in at that point. I got mad. Then I got even.

For years I kept that rejection letter – the only one I ever kept at all – pinned on a corkboard above my typewriter and later over my PC. Whenever I began to even slightly doubt my chosen career path I’d take a long look at that letter and keep on writing.

I finally tossed that letter – about 10 years into my sports writing career and after my first award (voted on by my peers) from a state newspaper association – when I realized that I no longer needed it as a motivation. At that point I had discovered what it is that motivates me to keep on writing, even after three decades.

I continue to write because there is nothing else in this world I can see myself doing professionally and because I enjoy every aspect of it. Most importantly, even if no one else ever reads another word I write, I can’t wait to see what new world, what new collection of characters I will create next and what new adventure they will take me on.

I can’t think of a better motivation for any writer than that.

Find out more about Richard and his books at http://www.richardpaolinelli.com/ including updates on when his new blog, Scribes Scribbles, will launch.



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

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.




    

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.