Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Blog, page 6
March 8, 2016
This is labeled Part 1 because I expect there will be future parts.
Our readership for Romance and all its variants has a deep skepticism about the existence and plausibility of the Happily Ever After ending, or HEA.
This is based on real life experience. Few of us know or have experienced and survived the exaggerated, dramatic, larger-than-life Events that divide a life.
Those Events come roaring into a Life like a flashflood, boiling rapids, sweeping away the person and everything they have built and identify with.
Astrologically, there are two planets that produce this effect when in certain transits -- Uranus which acts without apparent warning, and Pluto which undermines structures and passes, leaving the Events to surface later (like a Sinkhole opening up under your car -- it seems sudden, but took months of rain to hollow out the hole leaving just the thin cover you fall through.)
These outer planets move slowly through a Natal Chart. Pluto and Neptune (Romance is related to Neptune) never make it all the way in a normal lifespan.
So at birth, life is set up to hit "rapids" once or twice. The tumbling destruction can last a couple of years, or up to ten years or so. While you are inside this pattern, you can't even think that there will ever be an "End" at all -- that this is life.
And some Lives actually go on and on like that, from pillar to post, like a Soap Opera plot.
So we look around at our own life, at the lives of others we know, and see there is no Ever After -- only Happily For Now. People who thought they were Soul Mates get divorced in 5 or 10 years. It's not real, but we wish it were.
Or, if we yearn to attain this state of HEA with a real Soul Mate, we kind of hope it's not real because as life goes on, it's too late.
What if others have attained what we want, and we are locked out of happiness? That is just too bleak and painful a way to look at the world.
Many people, given a glimpse of such a harsh reality, internalize the disappointment and transmute it into anger. Carrying internalized anger often shortens lifespan.
So a lot scientific studies have investigated "Happiness" and the mental and emotional strategies of "Successful People."
There seems to be a universal yearning for an inner peace that is just beyond reach.
Here is an article referencing a wide variety of studies probing the mental condition known as "Happiness."
BTW "Happiness" is usually symbolized in Astrology by Jupiter and/or Venus.
Here is the article I found on Flipboard and spread through Facebook:
3 secrets to dealing with anger the right way, according to neuroscience
At about the same time, I got drawn into a Facebook discussion on a Romance Writer Group about whether Romance is real. Some writers said yes, and cited how many decades they had been happily married to the same guy. Others said no, and cited failed Relationships. It was a long, involved and passionate discussion.
At one point I said:
Remember that space ships and life on other planets and even cordless phones (Robert Heinlein), was all classified as "escapist fantasy" by most of the world while we (Science Fiction Readers, Star Trek Fans) went and made it Reality. Romance writers can do the same for the Soul Mate and HEA concepts.
The trick of communicating the passionate aspiration to make the HEA a reality in our modern world is in the Worldbuilding.
That connection between the Soul Mate being Real and the worldbuilding behind every novel, even Contemporary Romance needs worldbuilding, is what I go on about on this blog.
To solve that "Is it Wish Fulfillment Fantasy OR Is It Real?" dilemma for you so you can convey the ambition to Make It So to your readers, I pointed to that article cited above, DEALING WITH ANGER ACCORDING TO NEUROSCIENCE.
That article talks about point of view (though they don't know it). The best graphic I've found to explain what that article is talking about is
Note how that graphic I keep referencing on this blog joins "Soul Mates Are Real" to "Soul Mates Are Escapist Fantasy."
Writing craft requires the arduous practice of getting people up out of their circles and squares either/or mentality and into an understanding of Reality that transcends and joins the two options into a seamless whole while, at the same time it validates all the choices in the dropdown menu.
Life is not an either/or choice. Nor is it a single choice you must make from a long list of choices. Nor can anyone "give you a choice." Choice is yours, and the options among which you choose are yours to invent.
Your life is yours -- and nobody else's.
Your life is unique and you are unique. Your life is a work of art you are creating from the raw material you find around you. What raw material you can find depends on how good you get at the "reassessment" exercise suggested in that Psychology article on Anger and Neuroscience.
You attain that much coveted inner tranquility called "Happily" by "reassessing" what you are looking at and choosing an appropriate inner dialogue to describe it to yourself.
Once you have your description, that raw material becomes yours and you can craft it into a Happily that can plausibly last Ever After.
If you, the writer, can not SEE that potential in the raw material around you, it is very likely you will not be able to reveal that potential to your readers.
A great Romance, the kind of book or series of books that force readers to memorize your byline and look for more, is one that the reader finishes and turns around to start reading again.
Readers reread books because they evoke an ambience that tantalizes the edges of their everyday Reality with the promise of insights beyond human ken.
What you put into a novel is not what the reader gets out of it.
But if you put in your vision of Reality, the reader can take out of the book their own vision of Reality.
Yes, reading fiction is an adventure into the amorphous subjective world -- but in the hands of a fine craftsman, subjectivity becomes objective.
That's what happened with STAR TREK. Fans grabbed it out of Gene Roddenberry's hands, and "made it so." It was college age kids who wanted to play video games with kids on other campuses who invented ways of connecting computers. It was a guy off in Europe who figured out the idea of the "internet browser" -- software that interprets code.
Now we do this on our mobile devices.
With massive data crunching capacity, we are now exploring the farthest galaxies back to the beginning of time. We are finding planets, some that might harbor life (maybe not as we know it, but life.)
We can't say this is a direct result of Star Trek -- a silly, cheaply made cardboard set, silly-uniform TV show with pointed ears -- but that is also the way Romance works, indirectly.
Romance Genre is uniquely suited to showing (not telling) readers how to achieve that mental shift described in that Psychology article.
The most efficient way of showing readers how to think in "reassessment mode" is by using the techniques of Science Fiction Writers and Gamers, combined and repurposed.
The Romance Genre of 40 years ago is GONE -- the Romance Genre of "now" is over-emphasizing monkey-sex (not that such isn't important in correct proportion), while the Romance Genre of ten years from now is barely glimpsed.
We are pioneers in the most exciting field extant.
One of the Romance writers on that Facebook Group noted that one reason many Romance novels seem implausible is that the Relationship develops too fast, without context and time for the psychological lessons to sink in and be assimilated.
I agree the "speed" in many Romance novels ruins the effect which is, I think, why we're seeing a rise of the Adventure-Kickass-Heroine-With-Love-Story-Sidebar genre -- in Fantasy, SF, Military SF, and Paranormal (Vampire slayers etc).
In Science Fiction, the series long ago became the best selling format, even before the Multi-Generation-Novel format.
Long ago, I had a Best Selling Romance Writer come to me with a Werewolf novel she had written but couldn't sell in either romance or Science Fiction markets.
She asked why it wouldn't sell to the SF market. I told her what to change. She did. She sold it to a science fiction imprint.
Then she called me up a few years later appalled that the publisher was going to REPRINT it and was asking for a sequel. She didn't know if she should be offended and say no to that offer.
Back then, Romance didn't get reprinted and didn't have series, but Science Fiction did. I lived to see that massive shift in the Romance genre toward the publishing habits of the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre, and I am so pleased I did. We are headed into a convergence of genres which will then diverge into new categories with new labels.
It will all work out, but every novel needs at least a Love Story if not a full blown, giddy-and-crazy Romance driving the plot.
So, based on that Psychology article, my conclusion is that Soul Mates and the HEA are Real -- which is why they make the best Fantasy!
We all live in a subjective bubble that warps the Reality that is objectively out there. We can change how we regard things and that will objectively change how objective life goes.
So the choice "HEA real or fantasy" is a false choice. It is both real and fantasy. Fantisize efficiently and you can realize it in your life.
Real life is mostly imagination, as it says in that article.
March 5, 2016
The "sharing economy" and "permissionless innovation" have made matters more problematic for copyright owners, but it has always been the case that the government is decidedly not on the side of "the little guy or gal".
There's a very short statute of limitations (is it three years?) from the time a copyright infringement is discovered (or can be proven to have been discovered) and when time runs out to sue. Enforcement of a copyright is the responsibility of the copyright owner, not only to discover it, to send a DMCA notice, and if a counter notice is filed, to sue in federal court.
An author would have to be wealthy indeed to be able to afford to take a scofflaw through the federal court process. The link above applies to musicians, but the principle is the same.
If you should ever wish to send a DMCA to Google, and if you would much rather avoid the merry-go-round of links that make the process more efficient (ie, only the most determined complainant does not give up before completing the obstacle course), the email address of the DMCA agent is
All the best,Rowena Cherryhttp://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
March 3, 2016
More brain news: It may someday be possible to erase or modify memories or even implant false memories:Memory Hacking
In the short term, the most practical application of these techniques may be to help people suffering from phobias by changing the emotional impact associated with the relevant memories. A mouse experiment demonstrates the manipulation of the rodent's brain by making it fearful or confident at the will of the experimenter.
This research builds on discoveries that memory is far from the infallible recording of events it was once thought to be, a permanent trace that scientists might someday be able to replay on command. False memories commonly form in everyday life:
"Indeed, new evidence suggests our memories are imperfect and malleable constructs that are constantly changing over time. Each time we recall a memory, we go through the process of revising it. That means any time we recall an old memory, we’re disrupting it. Sadly, the fidelity of our memories degrades over time."
The article introduces a twelve-year-old boy who's a striking exception, a case of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Instead of needing help to recall experiences, he literally can't forget anything. This trait isn't an unambiguous superpower. The ability to forget can be a blessing.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypthttp://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
March 1, 2016
Previous parts in this series on Genre:
And here is the page that lists the Amazon comments for DEAD LETTER DAY (A MESSENGER NOVEL)
The subtitle A MESSENGER NOVEL or the author's name is necessary because there are many novels titled DEAD LETTER DAY.
You can't copyright a title, so many novels have the same title, and are distinguished by the author's name. In general, when titling a novel you are writing, it is a good idea to look at Amazon to find out what other novels by the title are "out there" and what, exactly, they are about.
For example, I lifted a classic Vampire line, being used by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in her St. Germain novels, to use for the title of a Vampire novel which is actually a Science Fiction Romance set on the Moon. The title I chose is THOSE OF MY BLOOD (free on Kindle Unlimited)
The publisher's (St. Martin's Press Hardcover) target audience was Vampire and Fantasy fans, and the title bespeaks the Vampire core of the novel -- which explains the source of Vampire legends using Science.
So when I was doing book signings in Mall bookstores, sitting up front at a table full of copies of the book, with a big easel sign outside the door saying THOSE OF MY BLOOD with an image of the cover, (the old hardcover cover; it has had several editions since and is currently being released in audiobook edition from audible.com), people came up to me asking about my book on GENEALOGY. Check out the search results on Amazon and you will find some of those nonfiction books. True, this Vampire novel is all about family relationships, but not exactly genealogy.
So DEAD LETTER DAY is an appropriate title for the novel by Eileen Rendahl, but can be confused with many other books. Eileen's "Messenger" delivers deadly objects at risk of life and limb.
When titling a novel, be sure to check Amazon and Google search for the phrase you are using. The title represents or symbolizes the Theme, which is always a "universal" and as a result, can be commonly used to make other sorts of statements.
Throughout 2015, there has been a running battle between Amazon and "reviewers" and publishers and even readers.
Here is an installment in that battle:
As I have noted in previous posts, we are carving out new territory in a new world when it comes to communication and information.
The connection between "information" and "communication" is crystal clear in the explosive blasts of "fantasy" type statements by politicians and retorts of "that's a lie!" and euphemisms for that retort such as "disingenuous."
We, as writers, are seeing this same fog blurring the line between information and disinformation in the online comments pages -- Amazon being only one such venue.
I'm not talking about Library Journal, The New York Times Book Review (both of which have treated my mass market novels very well indeed) and not even about online blogs that "review" novels.
I'm talking about readers who post on the products page comments such as "I liked it" (i.e. personal reactions offered to people who do not know that person), or statements such as "the characters are wooden."
Without knowing the commenter personally, a potential reader can not tell whether this book would be an enjoyable read. Enjoying reading a particular book is a very personal experience, an investment of time, energy (and money), and emotional wear and tear.
So the open comments page on Amazon which is called "reviews" really have nothing at all to do with "reviews."
A "review" is an analysis of a novel to communicate information about that novel to people who would (or would not) find that novel worth its cover price.
With novels like Dead Letter Day (A Messenger Novel) by Eileen Rendahl, you see a Kindle Edition price of $7.99, which I consider exorbitant. The recent negotiations between Amazon and Publishers (and lawsuits flying every which way, including iBooks on Apple platforms), have "settled" in such a way as to push people back to Paper Editions by raising the price of the ebook.
So grabbing a "cheap" ebook edition in case you might like to read the book in the future (collecting a series so you can binge-read it) is being discouraged.
This makes "reviews" by other readers much more important, and gives readers a whole lot more to consider before buying a novel.
It muddies the decision waters -- which is something marketers are taught to avoid at all costs.
So Amazon has been "cracking down" on "reviews" written by "reviewers" for money.
The problem is not that "reviews" are being posted for money -- but rather that the words posted by such "independent contractors" are not reviews at all, but comments.
Comments are different from reviews. As noted above, comments take one or both of two stances:
A) I liked/didn't like it, and
B) My disappointment in this book was the book's fault, not mine, so YOU will be disappointed, too because the writer is bad at writing. It's not my fault I chose the wrong book to pay my hard earned money for.
Neither statement has anything to do with whether YOU will like this book, or what properties are inherent in the novel itself.
Reviews, on the other hand, focus entirely on whether the book delivers what the cover, title, genre category indicate is inside, and which particular audience is targeted by the publisher.
Yes, audience targeting is done by the writer as I've described
... but the target can be adjusted by a clever editor issuing rewrite instructions.
The Editor's job ...
Here is Part 7 of Editing -- with links to previous 6 parts:
...is the 'get reviews' via the Publicity Department. That means the Editor must carve the material into a shape a Publicist would recognize as being in demand by a specific market.
"Reviews" are a marketing tool. "Reviews" are INFORMATION.
"Comments" are a sharing tool. "Comments" are COMMUNICATION.
Amazon has gotten the two distinct forms confused, which is why they are in such a tangled muddle.
Reviewers GET PAID to read, analyze, and write up their analysis, specifically targeting mass-buyers such as Libraries, Bookstores, Retailers, Warehousers, and yes, even newspapers such as the New York Times Book Review.
Commenters must not get paid in money, perhaps not even with a free copy. The whole point of "sharing" a reaction you, personally, experience when reading a novel is that you are COMMUNICATING to the world something about who you are.
Comments are about you -- and are useful to people who have something in common with you, who know who you are (via social networking, for example), and would like to discuss a particular book with you, personally, because you have something in common.
Reviewers get paid to prevent you from wasting your money, and have no interest in hearing back from you.
In other words, COMMENTERS (as distinct from Commentators) get paid via your response to their comments. REVIEWERS get paid by someone else to "get the word out" to the specific market the publisher intended.
Both get paid, but in different "coin of the realm."
I know this distinction because I've done both, in fandom and fanzines, online in social networking and Twitter chats, as well as professionally paid by a paper print magazine to review free copies of books.
That is I get free copies and a salary, to sort books out into piles, and direct the piles of books at those who would benefit from the content. Dead Letter Day is one of the books I was sent, free, to review but without a salary or stipend, just the free book. The review I write here is "optional" -- I will still be sent review copies even if I do not review Dead Letter Day. A Reviewer is assigned titles they must read and review, and turn in their review by a certain date.
I only review books that will still be a great read and instructive by whatever date you might happen to pick them up. Timing "reviews" is all about marketing. My commentary on titles is all about what you can learn by analyzing, contrasting and comparing certain novels to other novels, and I recommend checking your library for ebook or paper copies to read free.
Reviewers are paid to part you from your money. Commenters are trying to get your attention. I am intent on illuminating the dark corners of writing lessons your readers can benefit from.
What I choose to say about a book has a lot to do with who is listening.
Here, on this blog, I am talking mostly to Romance writers who use elements of science fiction, fantasy, and/or Paranormal genres to broaden their audience reach. Other readers here are working toward selling novels with several of these elements. Still others are readers who love knowing how novels get made and published. You might be surprised how many readers love seeing how writers do it!
Right now, due to the whole self-publishing, internet, ebook, social networking phenomenon, the world of publishing is redefining the concept Genre, not just the content of books with a genre label on the spine but the very parameters that define what constitutes a genre.
So new experimental genre names are appearing on book spines, and a wide variety of twists, blends, and content are being included under genre labels that sell well for no reason the publisher understands.
As a result, many readers are being led astray by the publisher, then blaming the author for their disappointment in a book.
A track record of disappointing readers is one of the legitimate reasons for an author to change their byline.
I've covered Pen Names in previous posts.
Here, though, I am telling you to study the comments on the Amazon page for this particular Messenger Novel, and then read the book, and discern the difference between a comment and a review.
Also read this article on the whole 2015 Amazon dust-up which I mentioned above.
Think about what you, as a reader, want to know about a book before you put down $8 to get a copy.
DEAD LETTER DAY is 294 pages, and the 3rd in the MESSENGER series -- DON'T KILL THE MESSENGER, DEAD ON DELIVERY are the prequels.
I recalled reading the previous ones as I was reading DEAD LETTER DAY, but only vaguely. I didn't find anything in Dead Letter Day that tripped me up or made me think I should reread the prequels.
The series premise is that there is a paranormal world interspersed with our normal world, and it has werewolves and vampires and other "things." Marlena Markowitz is a young woman whose magical talent, training, and obligation is to deliver packages to paranormal beings -- wherever the recipient might be.
A friend of hers, Paul, a werewolf, has gone missing, and his pack does not seem as concerned as she thinks they should be.
This is an Amateur Private Eye novel, set in a Fantasy universe, with Romance and many other genres skillfully interwoven.
Marlena investigates Paul's disappearance until she puzzles out the motivations of the various paranormal characters involved with her friend, Paul, and locates him. She is indefatigable and relentless, despite many discouragements that would stop most people.
Meanwhile, Marlena delivers packages and runs her dojo for young children, and trains her own apprentice Messenger.
With so much material compressed into such a short novel, the author still makes room for a Romance thread. This is an installment in an ongoing Paranormal Romance story which reads well as a stand-alone, but is enhanced by memory of the previous novels. It is not a Romance. It is a Private Eye Novel.
I highly recommend Eileen Rendahl's Messenger Novels to those who like a variegated Paranormal world revealed through multiple plot threads and a cast of vividly drawn Characters.
But more than that, I recommend studying the contrast between the comments on Amazon and your own response to the novel.
Try to discern what you, as a Romance writer, can do to attract "reviews" on Amazon that point specific readers at your books, and other readers (who would not enjoy your book) away from wasting their money and posting bitter comments.
As a reader, try to figure out ways to avoid wasting your money.
Genre used to be the sort-mechanism. You would walk into a book store, glance up at the signs, and go right to the shelves which had all the books you might want to read. Then you'd pick one by some hint of content, or author's name, but all of them were "good."
Now readers are aswim in a turbulent sea of indistinguishable titles, and the readers do not know why they are whipped around and pointed at "bad" books. They blame the writers for bad writing, when in fact it is the blurring of the lines between genres coupled to the blurring of the distinction between Review and Comment that is causing confusion. Add to that the plethora of ebooks that are really early drafts needing work or perhaps fan fiction recycled for publishing. Review Blogs are strenuously trying to fill the gap, but still falling short.
Publishing needs new ways to sort books for readers. Can you think of a new one using tech in novel ways (as Uber applied tech to the taxi problem?) Then write a novel about that method.
February 25, 2016
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have grown miniature "brains," spherical clusters of cells about 350 micrometers in diameter, barely visible to the naked eye, for the purpose of studying human brain function and testing drugs:Mini-Brains
According to the article, "While the versions aren't exact replicas of brains, they are made of the same neurons and cells found in human brains, feature the same structures and act in the same way." Generated from stem cells created by reprogramming human skin DNA, the clusters "contain circuitry that functions like an actual brain."
In 2013, scientists in Vienna grew "a small brain that was at the same developmental level as a 9-week-old fetus." Although the process sounds a bit Frankensteinian, the mini-brains don't have consciousness or any ability to think (whatever, exactly, that means). However, if enough of them were linked, could they form a biological "computer"? And, if large and complex enough, could such a network develop consciousness?
Also, how long before some pressure group decides that these tiny balls of neurons constitute human individuals entitled to personhood rights?
In other brain news, also at Johns Hopkins, researchers are working on "brain mapping technology to enable a patient to independently move individual fingers on a prosthetic arm just by thinking about it." With no cumbersome learning process involved, the patient can produce movements similar to those of a natural hand by simply willing the motion.Mind-Controlled Prosthetic
The device used in this trial requires a separate computer pack to enable the patient to transmit commands to the artificial arm. The system costs about half a million dollars, so commercial application remains a long way off. At present, only an individual as valuable as the Six Million Dollar Man would qualify for a full set of these prostheses.
Speaking of individuality and identity, how much of his or her organic body could an individual have replaced and still remain that same person? The Tin Woodman in THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ has his entire body replaced by a metal one piece by piece, not all at once, and at the end of the process he still identifies himself as the man he was before the curse severed all his limbs. Of course, in his case magic must be involved, because he has a tin head, too, with no indication that his organic brain was transplanted into it. From Six Million Dollar Man to Darth Vader (mentioned in the prosthetic article) to Robocop to Tin Woodman—still the same person? Suppose the Good Witch of the North grew a brain for the Tin Woodman, using the Oz equivalent of the mini-brain technique, and magically transferred his consciousness into it? In Oz he would still be himself (as we know from the fact that both he and the Scarecrow have consciousness and personalities despite being made completely of inorganic materials), but what about in this world?
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypthttp://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
February 23, 2016
The Legacy As Motivation
Index to Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration:
Actors famously ask Directors, "What's my motivation?"
Writers are both actor and director in the story they scribe with words.
And the words the writer writes have to "show don't tell" the intangibles of the ineffable truths of life.
The writer's problem, as an artist, is to make personal peace with the idea that, "The book the writer writes is not the book the reader reads."
Then it is easy to choose abstract symbols to represent ideas -- knowing the reader will not interpret them as the writer meant.
Each reader, just as with a video-gamer or board gamer, creates their own story arising from the template the writer provides.
The writer is like the tuning fork (yep, old fashioned image), setting up where to begin the song.
But we all know that a romance writer is weaving a story from the individual "tones" of emotion that constitute the fabric of a Relationship.
One such thread the writer must weave into that fabric of Romance is "The Parents" - or even "The Grandparents."
A couple falling in love are not just two individuals.
Each brings to the proceedings a long history.
http://www.the36thavenue.com/st-patri..., many family histories are broken. But in human history it's always been that way -- war, famine, pestilence, and death have left orphans to bounce around the world like the little ball in the roulette wheel -- finally landing in some compartment with a family name (number on the wheel) that is not their own.
Yet, somehow, we all resonate to "the past" -- to family.
When trying to explain our inexplicable behavior and choices, we say, "I was raised to ..."
Brain studies are showing more and more how plastic the human brain is, especially in childhood, so how we are "raised" may indeed explain a lot.
Even genetic studies show how our genes can be activated (or not) by the stress and impact of events in childhood.
So two humans who come together igniting Romance between them each bring to that Event a long, long historical trail -- some of which they, themselves may not know.
We are now finding that the father's diet, disease, exercise, drug-habits, etc. can severely influence the child's health and longevity.
Whether we know it or not, whether we have any hint of it or not, our ancestry and early childhood experiences define that moment when Romance ignites -- and may even determine whether the fire, once ignited, continues to burn.
So, many themes, many plots, arise from Legacy -- yours, your reader's, and your Character's.
One perennial favorite Gothic Romance starts with inheriting a house -- often haunted, sometimes containing "secrets" in the walls, and always leading to trouble that someone in this strange town can help with.
Other sorts of inheritance have generated magnificent Romance plots. You probably have a favorite -- I certainly do have a couple.
The Legacy that configures your life is one thing. The Legacy you leave behind you -- that will configure your grandchildren's lives -- is another. Perhaps they are the same thing?
Legacy is part of every THEME. You can't avoid it if you want Characters who walk off the page into your reader's dreams.
Legacy is a component of every PLOT, whether you as the writer know consciously that you put it in.
Legacy is the hidden, subconscious motivation of every CHARACTER -- if that character has any dimension of realism. Legacy is the lynch-pin that holds Plot and Story together. In other words, Legacy -- where this Character came from, and what they leave to future generations -- defines your Theme. You may not see or understand what you've written for decades after it is published, but when you do find it, you will recognize your own Legacy in that Theme.
We are all driven to select one action rather than another by "who we are." Legacy is a major component of Identity.
If your main Character lacks Identity, no reader will believe anything in the Story, even if they believe the Plot. Sometimes that's the effect you, as an artist, want to create. But learn to do it on purpose, not by accident.
Legacy reveals and defines the entire WORLD that you have built around your Character.
Legacy is the Show Don't Tell that can convey in one vividly drawn description of an Object, or one oft-quoted cliche, exactly what your intangible THEME is. "Grandma always said a stitch in time saves nine, and I never knew what that meant until you saved my life."
Love is often founded on some secret of life shared in a non-verbal way.
So, a Legacy that drives or defines your Main Character can be just a few words, some notes in a song, -- even words in a foreign language the Character does not know.
Such a Legacy -- a song fragment -- can serve to introduce and define a non-Human Character who falls in love with a Human.
Discovering the meaning of that Legacy can be the Mystery Plot, the suspense line for the novel -- or perhaps a long series of novels.
For example, suppose your Main Character inherits some old diaries kept but disregarded for generations. Suppose an Occasion comes along where that Main Character opens the crumbling old books and deciphers the cursive scrawl -- probably using Google.
And it is a letter from a dying ancestor to her children.
For example, it might list some bits of advice or admonishment.
1) Always keep your promises to yourself, and it will be easier to keep your promises to others. This will be regarded as evidence of Integrity and gain you Trust.
2) Create your personal Inhibitions to serve your purpose in life.
3) Fill your life with carefully chosen habits, honed to avoid betraying the hard-won Trust of yourself and of others.
4) Remember that every Asset is a Liability.
5) Troubles come in threes - and so do Triumphs. In three years your choices today will have crafted tomorrow.
6) Discover the story of your life and live it with zest.
7) Learn something every day.
8) Create new options for solving any problem that is set before you without relying on suggestions of those who set the problem. Redefine the problem and create more options. Then choose a course of action.
Any one of those bits of Advice could be, say, inscribed on a piece of jewelry that is an hierloom legacy -- meaningless until some Plot Event reveals the need for it.
Each of them in turn could be used as the theme for a novel, making an 8 volume series that makes sense because they form a thematic-set, a group of related ideas that can form and drive a story.
Using such a device, you can craft a novel in two Times or Eras, one where the Ancestor learned the lesson and made the inscription, and "today" where a descendant reads the message and solves a current problem accordingly -- perhaps crafting a new Legacy.
When you expand this writing device of Legacy to include non-Humans, Aliens From Another Planet (either here on Earth or met by a Human protagonist Out There), the contrast between the Human and the Alien Legacy, and the odd-similarity that joins them, provide not only the Character Motivations but also the essence of the Romance.
"What does she see in him? What does he see in her?"
These are the key questions in any Romance, and the most potent answers always lie in Legacy.
That's why Mafia stories are so powerful -- it's all about Family, Heritage, Belonging.
Legacy is about acceptance, rejection, and living up to (or down to) expectations of others.
Always remember, it's not just the Legacy your Main Character receives, but also about the Legacy they craft to hand on to their posterity.
It is said we are granted leniency in the merit of the good deeds of our ancestors, so the question becomes what have you done today to earn leniency for your progeny?
Romance is the prelude to creating a new historic node, a knot in the network of humanity, a crossroads in the fabric of Time.
For example: why do we cry at weddings?
When the Romance involves a human and non-human, two vastly different historical networks become knotted together via a newly created Legacy.
That is why the Character of Spock -- or even Worf -- captivate the attention. They hold the potential to make Romance new again.
Legacy can be a physical object, a financial asset, a meaningful memento such as a quilt with a Wisdom saying woven into it, or an idea, a credo to live by, a philosophy or religion, Ancient Wisdom, or maybe even a recipe for something distinctively aromatic.
Legacy items can appeal to all the senses, become the MacGuffin that everyone chases around after, or the bone of contention that tears the family apart. A Legacy item can become of the focal point of the plot, the tie to the past that is so full of pain the Main Character destroys or Deep-Six's the item at the end.
In other words, Legacy is about emotion, and allows the writer to show-don't-tell the texture of that emotion.
February 21, 2016
Read the entire page. http://forum.mobilism.org/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=649944
It is quite an education.
Regarding "Mobilism.org", this is how to use Google Search to search the site without registering and logging in; mobilism.org site:forum.mobilism.org
For instance, I can check for my works using this:
However, sending a DMCA is simply going through the motions. Send a takedown, and perhaps they will take the book down, but uploaders will reup it.
The site has rules that require uploaders to include at least one mirror site, and to promptly reupload works that are taken down. See here: http://forum.mobilism.org/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=221908
Dead link requestsPlease PM the ORIGINAL POSTER with re-up requestsIf you do not get a reply within a few days (3 at most) you can post in the topic, explaining that you received no response from the OP.If the Original Poster is no longer active or not replacing links, post in the topic or PM a moderator with a link to the thread so it can be moved to Expired and reposted by somebody else.What does this mean for an author? Document everything. Then, tell the Feds.
On the other hand, there is a site called MUYEBETA
which appears to snag information from Goodreads, and might even be promotion. I concluded that it wasn't worth the trouble of sending a DMCA, but I might take another look in the light of what I learned from http://forum.mobilism.org/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=649944
The links go to a useless scam site called bestbook library,http://review.easycounter.com/bestbooklibrary-scam-report
You can Google a question about whether almost any named site is a scam, or whether it is safe. If the site shows a blurred open book that could be anything, it probably isn't your book or my book, and anyone wanting a free read will discover that they have to provide credit card information before they can enjoy the free read.... and once the pirates have your credit card, do you really think they won't charge you?
February 18, 2016
If you're in search of ideas for truly alien sex, pick up SEX IN THE SEA, by marine biologist Marah J. Hardt. She begins with the quest for a potential mate, not always easy to find in the vastness of the oceans, and continues through courtship, mating, fertilization, and birth or hatching. Some sea creatures travel formidable distances back to their birthplaces to reproduce, while at the opposite extreme others (oysters, coral, etc.) spend their adult lives stuck in one spot and somehow have to get their gametes together without moving from that spot. Some animals change sex when they mature, while a few species can even flip their genders back and forth multiple times over their lives. There are species with two or three distinct types of males, one of which looks like a female in order to sneak past dominant macho-style males and mate with real females. Some male animals have penises longer than their bodies. There's even one that has sperm cells longer than its own body! Female right whales can have intercourse with two males at once, one on each side. A certain segmented, sand-dwelling worm has multiple penises or vaginas, one for each segment. Hardt says they mate like a zipper closing. Squids and octopuses use a specially adapted arm to place a sperm packet inside the female. There are creatures that detach their penises like darts. Hermaphroditic flatworms don't copulate in the "normal" way but stab each other with their organs to inject sperm anywhere in the mate's body. The males of some species of fish attach themselves to the bodies of their much larger mates and atrophy into mere sperm-dispensing appendages. One species takes this process even further, with a female hosting numerous tiny males inside her body. In one kind of shark that bears live young, stronger fetuses murder their weaker siblings in the womb.
Imagine what marriage would be like on a world where the dominant species reproduced like angler fish, with the husband a parasitic attachment to his wife. Consider the dramatic possibilities of sibling rivalry among intelligent beings who know their potential brothers and sisters were eaten in the womb. Sexual politics in a species that reproduced externally, like most fish and amphibians, would be quite different from the status quo in our culture, where the burden of carrying the young inside the body falls on the female. One of Fredric Brown's humorous short-short stories features a man who falls in love with a mermaid and agrees to be transformed into a merman so they can marry. After the change, he's horrified to learn that merfolk mate like fish, by spawning into the water instead of copulating.
Suppose a human hero fell in love with a member of a gender-fluid alien race, able to change sex back and forth depending on environmental cues such as the sex of his/her mate (like some fish). Marion Zimmmer Bradley creates such a race, the chieri, in her Darkover series, and one of the human characters in THE WORLD WRECKERS faces that very challenge.
Every chapter of SEX IN THE SEA offers similar thought-provoking oddities. Written in a breezy, slangy style, this book is both fun and informative.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypthttp://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
February 16, 2016
The Artist's Dilemma
Previous posts on Astrology Just For Writers are indexed here:
The two panels of this graphic are neatly displayed as two sides of the dilemma not back to back, but at an ANGLE.
In Astrology these two statements represent two Houses (everyone has all 12 Houses, so it is there inside you somewhere).
The "Get A Real Job" attitude is more Capricorn or Natural 10th House -- the Cardinal Earth sign that is ruled by Saturn and tends toward the practical.
The "Without Passion" side has the lofty incoherence of Neptune, which as I've pointed out previously represents the mental condition that we describe in Romance as being "In Love."
The Artist is passionate. The Lover is passionate.
Sex is the Creative act -- which other people do try to constrain (Saturn) and define (Saturn) and manage for you (Capricorn).
Two people in love inspire others in ways that prove, over and over again, that Love Conquers All.
And that does, indeed, "change the world." Romance, mellowing into Love, settling into Happily Ever After, raising children who understand Love and spread it through the world, all that changes the world.
Capricorn/Saturn is famous for resisting change -- but also then insisting on change, sometimes massive, sometimes painful change, about every seven years.
Pisces is the Mutable Water sign -- and interestingly produces many Engineers, mechanical geniuses, as well as artists.
Pisces is opposite Virgo, the detail-oriented-sign. Pisces blurs and blends details so they are not distinct.
In other words, Pisces is bound to its opposite, Virgo, and is 60 degrees from Capricorn -- which visually seems to be about what that image corner shows, an oblique angle. If it were a "right angle" we couldn't read both sides so easily.
So what's opposite Capricorn? Cancer! The sign of Home, the basis of Life, family, parents/children.
So Capricorn, the "Get a real job" attitude is opposed by Home-Making (Cancer), and pulled off balance by creative imagination (Pisces).
Pisces is the Natural 12th House -- the summation of the meaning of your life.
Noel Tyl says that the reigning Need of a Natal Chart is shown by the position of the Moon -- ruler of Cancer. The ruler of the opposite House, Saturn organizes resources to fulfill that Need using the Ideals represented by Neptune.
Ideals are generally considered "impractical" -- and Saturn is the distilled definition of the Practical.
Note how a story must have two Conflicts -- internal to the Characters and external to the Characters -- that are resolved at the end of the story.
That oblique angle relationship between the practical Capricorn and the impractical Idealism of Pisces depicts the perfect conflict for a Romance. You just have to find a resolution you can convince your readers to believe. Neptune is all about belief.
February 14, 2016
This isn't about that. It's about numerous scams that try to trick authors who own trademarks into paying entitites other than the USPTO for services that some would say are worthless, and that are not renewals of those trademark registrations.
Here's a sample that was mailed to me for a trademark of mine. I apologize for the wrinkles. I did not treat the scam with great respect.
Trademarks only last for five years, and have to be renewed. Usually, the renewal notice will be sent to the trademark owner's lawyer.
The entity you should be paying is the USPTO, and no other acronym. If the USPTO sends you an email, it will come from uspto.gov (but, of course, you should make sure that this addy wasn't just written in.) If you receive a letter, it will come from Alexandria, VA.
However, there seem to be several scams that also call Alexandria, VA their home.
The $750 fee is in the ball park, but a bit more than a legitimate renewal fee. I've received solicitations trying to trick me into paying double that.
If you have been tricked, the USPTO will not help you get your money back, but if you report them, you might help the Feds to prosecute them.
For more information, check out the USPTO site:
Happy Valentines Day.