Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Allegory

Finding hidden messages that the author has inserted in their text is a really tricky thing and usually a flash point for arguments, especially if the message doesn't sit well with people who really admire said author. An example of this is when I pointed out to several people that I thought Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game was nothing but a well-hidden diatribe against gay people (and therefore unworthy of the awards it has received--yup I said it). As I read it, I kept shaking my head at the homophobic references which pepper the text. Then one day I looked up the word "bugger" and discovered it was British slang for "sodomite", a.k.a. "homosexual" and suddenly everything clicked. Taken aback by my findings, I thought to absolve Mr. Card of said bigotry by using Google but nope... he's a confirmed bigot. So yeah, I was right (and got blasted on forums for voicing my opinion).

I'm a critical reader and I look for hidden messages. I can't turn it off...I'm sorry...it's just who I am. If my friend Roguemutt wrote three novels and all of them featured 12-year-old girls getting married to 40-year-old men and these men were very excited to take these girls to bed with them over and over across thousands of pages...I would call mutt a pedophile. This is an extreme example but it shows you how I read books as I look for author intent.

The definition of allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.

Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.

Everyone who has been reading my blog knows I've been working my way through Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Right now, I'm on the third book, a 2000-page work on my iPad (I increased the font size to make it easier to read) called A Storm of Swords. I'm not going to cover how I think it's a soap opera seeing as I did that in an earlier post. No...what I'm going to cover here is the underlying message that Mr. Martin has been pounding into my head and suddenly "I got it" in a chapter where Daenerys gathered an army of "unsullied" by purchasing them as slaves and then commanded them to destroy an entire city.

The message is simple: WOMEN ARE THE DEATH OF MEN.

It's pounded over and over in these books. Mr. Martin, I believe, is a modern day misogynist.

As you may already know, medieval misogyny gave rise to chivalry. The belief that Eve was responsible for consorting with snakes and thereby God threw all of humanity out of the Garden of Eden. Chivalry arose from misogyny as men sought a means to disarm women of their sorceries, witchcrafts, and curses that they were prone to cast over men to do them ill.

In Martin's books, every single horrible thing that has befallen a man has come from consorting with a woman. Khal Drogo died because a witch that said she could cure him of a minor wound poisoned him. Ser Jorah Mormont lost all his land for love of a woman. Cersei killed the king and tried to have Tirrion killed. The men of Astapor underestimated a woman and paid for it with their lives! In other words, all the men who exist in their version of an "Eden" are undone by women and a terrible fate befalls them.

I'm almost a third of the way through with A Storm of Swords but I will make a predictions on the novels based off of this theme.

Every man in these books that dies that is considered a prominent character will have a death directly related back to a woman (this includes as yet unreleased material).

What do you guys think? You fans of the books that are out there...can you furnish an example of a prominent male character that dies that was not offed as a direct correlation to a woman?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Palme d'Or 2011 at Cannes

Tree of Life has received some extremely polarizing reviews. Some have hailed it as a masterpiece while others booed it. As of this writing, it is floating somewhere in the 90% range on Rotten Tomatoes.  The site's consensus seems to be that "Terrence Malick's singularly deliberate style may prove unrewarding for some, but for patient viewers, Tree of Life is an emotional as well as visual treat."
This is the theatrical release poster for Tree of Life
It did receive the prestigious Palme d'Or this year which (as you may already know) is the highest honor given to a single film that makes its premiere at Cannes.

Here is what some of the critics have to say about it:
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave it a perfect five stars and states it is an "unashamedly epic reflection on love and loss" and a "mad and magnificent film."

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter states "Brandishing an ambition it’s likely no film, including this one, could entirely fulfill, The Tree of Life is nonetheless a singular work, an impressionistic metaphysical inquiry into mankind’s place in the grand scheme of things that releases waves of insights amidst its narrative imprecisions."

Justin Chang of Variety states the film "represents something extraordinary" and "is in many ways his simplest yet most challenging work, a transfixing odyssey through time and memory that melds a young boy's 1950s upbringing with a magisterial rumination on the Earth's origins."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone states "Shot with a poet's eye, Malick's film is a groundbreaker, a personal vision that dares to reach for the stars."
 Some facts about the film:
  1. Filming began in the great state of Texas. Locations include Smithville, Houston, Matagorda, Austin, and Malick's hometown of Waco.
  2. The namesake of the film is a large live oak that was excavated a few miles outside Smithville. The tree weighed 65,000 pounds with root ball and was replanted.
  3. In a March 2011 interview, the visual effects supervisor, Dan Glass, stated that the film would feature microbial and astronomical imagery, along with dinosaurs. He summarized the film as "a very powerful movie about memories, emotions, and our place in the world."
I really want to see this film. It premieres here in Salt Lake City on June 17th, 2011 (I've marked my calendar). I predict that the film will resonate strongly with me as my personal outlook on the universe has also left me wondering if the lives that we live have any meaning at all.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing A Soap Opera Novel

I think that one or two people got a little testy when I declared that I thought their favorite author, George R.R. Martin, was writing a fantasy soap opera. This led me to make this blog entry. First, I want to define what a soap opera is. From the Wikipedia article, the definition of a "soap" is as follows: stories run concurrently, intersect and lead into further developments. An individual episode of a soap opera will generally switch between several different concurrent story threads that may at times interconnect and affect one another or may run entirely independent of each other. Each episode may feature some of the show's current storylines but not always all of them. Another thing that "soaps" are famous for is that they can go on without end. Could Mr. Martin's books do that? Yep...without end.

Does this not exactly fit A Game of Thrones and all other books in the series? The answer: Yes...yes it does.

Should you be offended that you love reading a soap? I don't think so. But stop fooling yourself that this is "high-brow" literature because it isn't. What it happens to be is one hell of an addictive story. My own confession: I go home and sometimes watch "Desperate Housewives of Beverly Hills". I can't turn it off. The same goes for Mr. Martin's books. I have to know more.

I've noticed a certain "arrogance" from the young men in the world that read Mr. Martin. For example, if I were to take my copy of Percy Jackson and the Olympians or even perhaps Harry Potter to a comic book or game convention where Magic: the Gathering tournaments are held, I might be scoffed at. These young beta males would say things like, "Oh...I read real fantasy. Have you tried George R.R. Martin?" My reply at present would be, "You dare to look down your nose at me for reading this Young Adult fantasy when you're reading a soap opera? Please...just...stop."
This brings me to another point on writing. Since many authors are often the source of inspiration, if you are writing to the standards of Mr. Martin, are you unwittingly trying to recreate a soap?

Do you think that "soap opera" style novels are the best way to squeeze money out of a book market?

My personal opinion is that if you can do it...it's the way to go. I think there's huge money to be made in writing a successful soap as opposed to a finite storyline told in three books. You can keep milking this thing over and over. It's like the goose that lay the golden egg or a cow with infinite milk.

I kind of despair a little in knowing that I'm hooked by something that really won't ever have an end until Mr. Martin "declares" it over. I mean the story really could run its course anytime. But it can also keep going at any time. I wonder if capitalism encourages this unnecessarily? Everyone wants to have a constant income but if money weren't an issue, do you really think that these kinds of tales would keep flowing from the publishers? I have to think that they wouldn't. People would wrap shit up and you'd get an ending.
This is totally Game of Thrones.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Clash of Kings

I'm 700 pages into A Clash of Kings and nothing has happened. Yet, I can't put it down. Is my life so utterly boring that I'm consumed with reading about the lives of others?

Martin's books do not have a plot. They don't have a protagonist. They don't have an antagonist. They are a collection of chapters with each one a differing point-of-view. We go from Sansa to Arya to Theon to Bran to Daenerys to Jon to Tirrion and then rinse/repeat. My epiphany came in a chapter called Arya where the most exciting thing that happened in forty pages was her going off into the woods to urinate (yes he describes the urination) and a wolf appears and then just as quickly disappears with no follow-up. Huh? These characters are eating, drinking, having sex, plotting, strutting, killing, looking at their damaged hands, burying the dead, mourning, slapping people for insulting them, and you name it. Yes...these books are simply about the lives of other people in a fantasy setting. They are about all the things that you and I would do only in a make-believe world.

It's kinda like The Sims only with text. And in many places...just as boring. I spent forty pages reading about some lame tournament held by King Joffrey while his little 8-year-old brother jousted with a man made of straw. Yes...really...a frickin' man made of straw.

I feel as captivated by these tales as I do watching an episode of "Extreme Couponing" or "The Desperate Housewives of Beverly Hills" or "The Jersey Shore".  Yes...I seriously did just compare George R.R. Martin to "The Jersey Shore".

Why am I so captivated by these books? It really has me wondering if my life is that banal...that boring...that the lives of these fictional characters are so much more interesting than my own. It'd be different if there was a plot...then I'd have an excuse.  I could tell you..."oh this 1500 page book of George R.R. Martins is about this..." and then launch into some huge profound plot akin to destroying the one ring.  But oh no...I could tell you what Tirrion ate for his breakfast and his lunch, what he wore, when he went to the bathroom...oh I could tell you how agonizing it was for Sansa to find the right dress to please Joffrey and how much Joffrey likes beating her. 

What a strange way to write. It's just wierd and somehow so "soap operish" that it taps into this strange node in my brain that I have to watch it unfold on the pages. I talk to my friend James about the books and we're like gossiping hens "oh I can't believe this happened and blah blah"... Like really...are there millions of men out there that are just like me that are captivated by the gossip generated by the lives within these books?  I guess so. Afterall, Mr. Martin has sold millions.

It makes me lament though at the state of the modern novel. No plot, five novels in one (yes you could rip the chapters out regarding each character and have your own book with only one-point-of-view and one storyline) and simply a tale about lives...people going to the bathroom, changing boots, laying with women, men, sisters, and brothers...eating plums, getting sick, lusting, loving and dying. Ay carajo.

When I write a review for Goodreads I fully intend to give this five stars. I couldn't put it down. And because of that I wonder what the hell is wrong with me?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Newsflash! Eric Cantor (R) Is A Giant D-Bag

From the Huffington Post article found here:

In the aftermath of Sunday’s devastating tornado in Joplin, Mo., a key House panel has approved a $1 billion aid package to make sure federal disaster relief accounts don’t run out before the end of the budget year in September.

The Appropriations panel approved the measure by voice vote as an amendment to a measure funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other Department of Homeland Security programs for the 2012 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The disaster aid package would be financed by a $1.5 billion cut from a loan program to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. That means the new spending wouldn’t add to out-of-control budget deficits.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that Congress would not approve funds for disaster relief without budget cuts elsewhere. “If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” he said.

So yet another win for Big Oil. With gas prices closing in on $5 a gallon and much discussion going on about America's dependence on foreign oil, with the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico fading from the memory of the rich, and with Big Oil declaring enormous $10 billion dollar profits for only 3 months of work...let's slash the incentive for fuel-efficient vehicles!  Way to go you Republicans...way to go! I have no idea why impoverished people vote these assholes into office. It would seem that commitment to GOP ideology is more important than commitment to actual people who are suffering and need help. Or maybe that's the whole point of GOP ideology. I was so angry, I unfollowed George Bush on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Game Of Nipples

I love plot tropes. In Lord of the Rings, the element of water was a huge plot trope. If you found water in any shape or form and lived in Tolkien's universe, you were f*cked. Example: The Ringwraiths got swept away by water at the ford, the fellowship tried to cross through the mountain passes and the way was blocked by snow and ice, the fellowship went to Moria and a watcher in the water sealed them inside the mine, Isengard was destroyed by a flood when the ents diverted the river, the dead marshes had people in watery graves, Osgiliath was the "key" to Minas Tirith and it was a city on the water (automatically f*cked), etc. etc.

I finished Game of Thrones last night and am buying book two a.s.a.p. It's a good series, can't put it down, etc... this isn't a book review. I would not attempt to add to the discourse already said about these books with tired old tripes about how sexist it is yet I can't seem to put it down. Rather, for those characters dwelling in Westeros, I wanted to point out that the nipple is literally life and death. Allow me to explain.

The "nipple" if you will...is all powerful. Example: Khal Drogo dies at the end of the book due to a wounded nipple. Daenerys' dragons suckle from her nipples in the funeral pyre, Lysa Arryn emotionally and developmentally castrates her son by having him breast feed too long from her nipple, Ned Stark is first attacked by Jaime Lannister outside a nipple house (brothel), Bran was made a cripple after having seen a nipple (both of those words rhyme by the way) in the tower as Jaime Lannister and his sister the queen were having incestuous sex. There are more examples: the dire wolves were found still nursing from the dead dire wolf's nipples...can't argue that the dire wolfs aren't important in the book (less so in the television show.  And speaking of the HBO show (obviously aware of the importance of nipple symbolism) Lord Renly is shaved by his lover, the knight of the flowers, because the hair obscuring his nipples is a metaphor for his lack of ambition at becoming king. After he's shaved, he sees the "light", makes love to his partner, and has courage to be king and to oust that whiney toad King Joffrey. But it takes the more prominent display of those "nipples" for him to come to terms with what he wants and what's good for the country. Oh and the top of a wineskin is referred to as a "nipple" and is what essentially kills Robert Baratheon. He drinks wine infused with a drug that dulls his senses so a boar can kill him. So yeah...done in by a nipple.

If any of you are men out there and reading my blog and your women are disgusted by the show, you should remind them that when a nipple flashes on the screen, it means something major is about to happen and that it is not, in fact, a gratuitous display of flesh. A nipple when employed by George R.R. Martin is a mighty plot device worthy of much speculation. All the more reason to concentrate harder on those sexy scenes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Supernatural And A Blog Award Or Two

The season six finale of Supernatural aired this Friday and it had a cliffhanger (sort of) by making Castiel proclaim himself as a new God.  You see, in the show's universe Castiel has been fighting this war in heaven against the angel Raphael (who he just exploded with a single gesture in Friday's episode). Castiel got so pumped up on "juice" from souls that he stole from Purgatory that he's like a walking nuclear bomb (their words). Essentially, as long as he can hold himself together, he's got so much power that angel swords can't even kill him anymore.

If you follow the show Supernatural, I've a question for you... is this really a cliffhanger? Because personally, Castiel has been overall, fairly decent and a huge ally of Sam and Dean through several seasons. He's not the conniving douchebag that Crowley is (the present King of Hell since Lucifer and Michael the archangel are trapped in some place referred to as "the cage").  In other words, I kind of think that Cas as the new "god" is an improvement over the show's old version of "god" which essentially never did anything...ever.

AWARDS:

Brooke R. Busse over at her blog Paper Mountain awarded me with the "I'm on Fire Award". Thank you so much Brooke. I'm passing this award onto Rogue Mutt and to Rachael Harrie over at Rach Writes...
Munir at the absolutely wonderful blog called Focus gave me the Straight From the Heart Blogger Award. Thank you so much Munir. I'm passing this award onto Misha at My First Book to Lucinda Bilya at Missing Link In Writing. Lucinda writes some of the most poignant and professional comments I've ever had the pleasure to read and is a consummate professional in all that she does.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Anderson Cooper, Jon Stewart, and I hate FOX News

My Friday post is about two of my real life heroes and that isn't said with a sarcastic tongue. The first one is Anderson Cooper. He's the host of the CNN show Anderson Cooper 360 which is a brilliant show. He's suave, debonaire (if you will), loved to play Dungeons & Dragons as a kid (same as me), and has a fantastic job where he gets to talk about important issues of the day and does so with intelligence.  There's speculation that he's gay but I'm not going to go into that because in his own words, "I want to talk about the news and not be the news." I think that's good enough for me just as long as he keeps up the good reporting.

Please Please Please click on this link.  It goes to an incredibly funny "Ridiculist" episode in which he totally tears apart the Dallas County G.O.P. campaign message for a Debbie Georgatos. When I first saw it air on CNN on Wednesday night while working out at the gym, I laughed my ass off and people started peeking around me to see what I was laughing at.  You'll especially love it if you live in Detroit (Mutt!).
Now...onto my other hero...Jon Stewart. On Bill O'Reilly's show, he completely owned that flapping lip for the Right. Furthermore, he explains perfectly why I hate FOX News. People that say CNN is just as left as FOX News is to the right, are completely wrong. FOX News is so incredibly polarized, so incredibly right, that everything in comparison looks like it is on the left. FOX News is a "selective outrage machine that petty fogs the narrative only when it suits them." The part I linked is only part one. Bill O'Reilly actually gets upset and raises his voice because he can't think of anything else to say. Anyway, awesome job Jon Stewart.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Your Christianity Is Terrifying

If you haven't heard, there are some people that believe strongly that May 21, 2011 is officially, Judgment Day--the Rapture--as it is known by Christians. Some have gone so far as to spend their entire fortunes (like this guy) on ad campaigns aimed at letting the world know of the impending doom so that they can be "saved". He's part of the somewhat cultish "familyradio.com" group (followers of Harold Camping who falsely predicted an apocalypse in 1994) doing an "ad campaign" nationwide to get sinners to realize that the end is near. Roguemutt has blogged about all the billboards going up in Detroit. Well they are also here in Salt Lake City. However, what I wanted to say here is that I find the people taking this stuff so seriously to be of incredible interest.

I'm atheist which essentially means, I've no faith in any religion at all. I don't believe in the existence of a being in a place called heaven, with a traditional white beard, keeping score on good deeds and bad.  Nor do I believe that he had a son and threw another dude out of heaven who became the devil, etc.

However, what I do find fascinating in particular is how terrifying a world you Christians live in. It's absolutely amazing. It's very liberating to my peace of mind to dismiss it all as fiction because if I truly believed in this stuff, I would want to run and hide at reports of the Queensland floods (biblical perhaps?), fish being washed up on shore, or mass bird die-offs. I would spend a lot of time at church and give away my hard-earned income for the chance at a golden ticket to salvation.
If you were to look at it from a fiction writer's perspective (which I am) and separate yourself for just a moment, I think you might be able to agree with me in some small part (assuming that my words haven't inflamed you to the point that you just stopped reading this post). To elaborate, let's look at some of this stuff. 

Old Testament aside (with its talking snakes, floods, people that can split the Red Sea, etc.) the New Testament is just as scary.  We have resurrections, the son of God and his second coming, Judgment Day, the horsemen of the Apocalypse...and holy crap...the Book of Revelation. All I have to say is...wow. The New Testament and religions spawned from it (L.D.S. for example believe that Jesus appeared in America)...are interesting. It's kind of like the authors that take old fairy tales like Cinderella and do stories that take place a day later, or who like Gregory Maguire, spin tales like "Wicked" that as you know, tells the story of the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz.

Basically, all I'm saying in this post is that growing up in a culture like this and believing this stuff must really fire your imagination. It prepares the mind (if you will) in a certain way to be more creative in coming up with stuff that is entertaining, incredible, and brilliant. Thanks to Christianity, we have prophecies, we have angels and demons, we have a son of God, and relics like the magical Holy Grail (used to great effect by Dan Brown ala the Davinci Code). We have the Knights Templar and all sorts of conspiracies involving Masons and secret societies, etc. Just look at Percy Jackson and the Olympians...at one time, people believed in those gods too. Now when I watch the movie, I think, how awesome it was for Rick Riordan to visualize the old Greek gods using the Empire State Building as Mount Olympus. Maybe an overactive imagination is perhaps the greatest boon to a person that aspires to write fiction.

If the Rapture does happen on May 21st, then any of you that are prepared for it have a great time. I'll be watching Saturday Night Live with Lady Gaga as the musical guest. I had my chance to believe from this lady in this video (and she failed to convert me):

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Simception

Consider this...so we're a game of Sims but we also play The Sims. What if our Sims have developed the Sims for themselves? The Sims within The Sims within The Sims
Just think about it...when you walk into a room, and then you forget what you went into that room for...

GOD JUST DELETED AN ACTION.

Happy Wednesday :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Show, Don't Tell

I follow Nathan Bransford's blog. He gives publishing advice. Some of it is built around the writing that will get your novel noticed. No surpise, the phrase "Show, Don't Tell" pops up. Everybody says it. I hear it more from blogs than muslims hear a call to prayer in middle eastern countries.
"SHOW, DON'T TELL," says my hypothetical Kurt above.

This is me listening...thinking...okay, they must know something I don't. I better heed the advice:
Okay, Okay. I'm Listening. I too want to be a great writer. I too desire to be published!

So...yeah...I like how the entire first paragraph of Jacob Wonderbar that got published last week is Tell and not Show.  Here it is:
Each type of substitute teacher had its own special weakness, and Jacob Wonderbar knew every possible trick to distract them. Male substitutes with long hair and women with tie-dyed skirts often had a guitar stashed nearby and were just waiting for an excuse to ditch the lesson plan and play a song. The mousy ones who spoke softly and tentatively when they introduced themselves would patiently answer every absurd question Jacob asked them and would be confronting a classroom gone wild within minutes.
LOL Publishing...do as I say, not as I do

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lottery

The statistics experts say that your chances in winning a big lottery are astronomical. It would be easier to seek out a bolt of lightning to randomly strike you in the head. Yet, against all odds, gazillions of people play the lottery. So many in fact, that it is reliable income for states with lottery programs. Now, I'm going to draw a connection to this "lottery" premise here and I want you to stick it out with me as you follow this whacky train of thought.

I think there are a lot of similarities in people seeking to publish and people playing the lottery. The biggest similarity is that people seeking to publish want money and lots of it. The astronomical odds against us in following this endeavor don't matter. Who gives a shit about the math, right?

Yup...I said it. Show me the money.

In order to understand my thought which came as kind of an epiphany on the way to Subway, I need to provide you with some background. Namely how our capitalism in the U.S.A. encourages blatant stealing and mimicking of successful products that are the cash cows for the top 1%.

Samsung is accused of copying Apple with their tablet. The new Internet Explorer 9 looks like a carbon copy of Google Chrome. Bing's search engine copied Google's programming so closely that they were called on it by Google who deliberately inserted parts of code that would show up as red flags if someone copied their stuff. We have Facebook essentially copying what Myspace did and countless others. Now you have Google going to war with Facebook in the social networking scene. It goes on and on. Stories look like other stories. Young adult fiction is dystopian after dystopian with female protagonists written from first person point-of-view. And blah blah blah. Why does this happen? Simple answer: there are a finite number of good ideas period.  But there are a ton of people. So how do you work a limited number of cash-generating ideas to a ton of people? You steal/copy that's how. Then you put spin on it. Spin is key. Allow me to elaborate.

The people that are not part of the 1% in our country don't make enough money to be happy. They can't afford the things that they want so they look to try and sell something to increase the frustration of being stuck in a fixed middle-class (or low class) income. They look to create a side-business. Now, I do think that writers go into this whole enterprise with a realistic point-of-view. As Amanda Hocking said on her blog when she was destitute, "I think I'll publish some of my stories on Amazon. Who knows...I could maybe make an extra $300  a month and that's more than I have now." Writing can be done by anyone with essentially no education. So the world is awash with it and everyone wants to sell you their book.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with this and I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I do think that writers don't tell the truth when they say, "Oh I'm just wanting to get published so I can be read". I think if you're saying that to yourself, you're telling a big lie and your nose is gonna grow just like it did for Pinnochio.

My opinion on this is just because I'm just noticing how the world is...how it behaves. To clarify, I wish it were different. I wish that people had enough money to buy the things that they need to feel satisfaction and happiness. Maybe if that 1% was spread out amongst everyone and EVERYONE had at least a million dollars, there'd be less struggling going on. Does that make me a socialist? I hope not because "Socialist" is a frickin' dirty word. Please don't call me that...I don't want to get stoned by representatives from Fox News.

So yeah, I think that people that are trying to publish are doing it for one reason. They HOPE that they can make some money.  The bigger the payoff ...the better! It isn't about having this overwhelming drive to pen words to paper and that they cannot sleep at night, etc. It's about wanting to be respected, have money, influence, and possibly a little power. The Rejectionist says it perfectly in her tagline on her blog "You'll be sorry when we're famous!" Yup! Money! Power! Prestige! It's a lottery.

People crave these things because they see others that enjoy them liberally. I actually think that if people had tons of money, they wouldn't write. Be honest, if you made $600,000 a year, I seriously doubt that you'd go home to your mansion, from your vacations, and your house full of supermodels and say, "hmmm...ya know...the world just really isn't complete until I pen this fiction about a high school vampire."  I know I'd probably never write again if I had enough money to buy my dreamhouse and live the way I desired. James Patterson doesn't. Sure he publishes but other people do the work. It's a money-making machine and he's livin' the fat life because he created his brand. He's not a writer, he's a businessman.

Most of the writers that I know and have heard of started out poor. J.K. Rowling, Allie Condie, Stephanie Meyer, and the list goes on and on. People who were maybe scraping by or downright destitute...but they didn't have the life they wanted. Nope...they didn't have the big boat and the money to take dream vacations, etc. So they took a look at what they had to offer the world with the idea that they'd like to sell it and make some darn money. It's the desire to shake off the cloak of mediocrity. Prove me wrong in a comment. Name one writer who STARTED their career filthy stinking rich and then decided to write anyway and published a debut fiction novel that wasn't a tribute to their own greatness (Here's looking at you George W. Bush).

Part of the business is obviously building this thing we call a platform, i.e., followers on blogger, twitter, facebook and other places that we collect for "free" and who can help us in getting the word out when the time is right for such things. Others do it better than some. I've noticed that the most successful bloggers tend to be the most original. They have authority behind their words and give advice about writing. But you know, there's only a finite number of things that you can say about something and therein lies the problem. You get people doing what Samsung did to Apple...repeating advice that has been mentioned over and over and that can easily be found on the web. Copycats because you gotta blog about something and you need to play the game to social network.  I just find the whole thing interesting. I follow some World of Warcraft blogs...it's a game that has 11 million subscribers. However, despite so many people, there are only a handful of blogs worth noting. Those have thousands of followers because everyone else knows this too. If you didn't get in early and carve a niche for yourself, then you're saying what the "experts" have already blogged about and hence, you have nothing to offer.

So yeah, I guess the key to the business is finding something to offer. Agents have it easy because they have poor writers out there seeking to make a buck that follow their blogs in droves hoping to learn the secret to the goose that lay the golden egg. Everyone writes the same kind of stuff because that's the formula that makes money. It's the stuff that publishers are buying.  It's a whole supply line of people waiting for a payday (not the candy bar).

Anyway, that's all I had to say. Have a great weekend and am happy that blogger is back. I hope if you read this that you get your payday. It's not right that 1% of America is so disgustingly rich. I hope you get a piece of that pie. Please don't be mad at me if I think you are trying to publish to strike it rich. It's just what I think but at the same time, I hope it happens. If it doesn't, you can always say, "I just wanted to be read." No one will think any less of you for it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Epiphany

IMAGINE IF YOU CALLED A WRONG NUMBER, AND THE PERSON YOU CALLED WAS A CELEBRITY...
First step: epiphany...

*picks up phone. Dials brother.*

"--Hello? Jaden?"

"--No. This is Lady Gaga."

Second step: *Dead*
Tweet using the hashtag #imagineif and then anything you want to say just 'cause it's like a boss!
Happy Wednesday :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Falling Skies

Falling Skies is a new TNT series created by Robert Rodat and Steven Spielberg. The first season has 10 episodes in it so it'll be a little longer than the first season of AMC's "The Walking Dead".

Falling Skies tells the aftermath of an alien invasion with the focus on a group of survivors that are struggling to fight the aliens. It premieres Sunday, June 19th, 2011. Needless to say, I'm really excited. Now I'll get to watch this show and Game of Thrones on the same night :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Chapter One Review of 'Witch Song' by Amber Argyle

Amber Argyle's book, Witch Song, is due for release on September 1, 2011 from Rhemalda Publishing. You can find her blog here. The first chapter is up on her website for people to read and review. In one sentence, I love it.

My Review of Chapter One:
Amber's writing is descriptive and her voice is original in what I view as a sea of generic fantasy dominated with male heroes. She introduces us immediately to witches and I understand by the end of the sample chapter that these are powerful women. One of them, Brusenna's mother, has obviously adapted to living in isolation and amongst people that don't like her as a means to hide from a powerful, evil, nasty witch named Espen. I get the impression that Espen is going to be the villain of the story and for good reason...she destroys witches less capable than her.

Amber accomplishes many things in this first chapter. She establishes her characters, the plot, and gives us some fantastic world-building. Her names, Brusenna, Bommer, Tomack, Coyel, and Sacra roll off the tongue as if these should be familiar and I'm comfortable with them by the end of the chapter. However, it's worth mentioning that I've never seen these names before in any other fantasy and I like that about the book. She uses a currency called upice which because of the inclusion of the word "up" makes me associate money with the upper class. Through Brusenna's voice (her main character) I learn how oppressed her family is and that they struggle to provide for themselves in the face of powerful prejudice from the locals. I also love the urgency of Coyel's visit to Sacra to basically lay it all out for Brusenna's mother. It's confrontational and builds conflict. It also turns Brusenna's world upside down at the end. The last sentences are great.
"Circle of Sisters, Keepers, the Dark Witch? Surely her mother had no understanding of such things. Surely she’d lived here for generations.

Hadn’t she?"
It's like Sacra's daughter knew nothing of her mother at all and because you're in her head, it makes you want to turn the page to chapter two. And that, afterall, is the point of great writing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

An Open Letter To Mom

Dear Mom,

When I was a kid I did something that I still feel bad about today. I know, I'm truly the best one of your kids and am perfect and all that. But seriously, there was this ONE TIME. It's like a black mark on my otherwise spotless record. So, as it's that SPECIAL DAY again, I need to seriously come clear. Like...seriously. So here it is. My confession. One day while you were hard at work at the cake factory  I spied your purse. I knew you were busy.
I looked inside and discovered a $20.00 bill on top. OMG...I thought to myself. This isn't frickin' Monopoly money! I could buy great things with $20.00 like fireworks, raspberry-jelly flavor filled Hostess doughnuts! Tiny collectible rubber band animals because all the cool kids had those! I felt a little like this:
Or maybe more like this. Like, OMG, holy crap, this is $20 frickin' dollars lolamazing...
So I took the money. I was dumb though and the tattle-tell other spawn of yours saw me. I tried to convince her of this:
She blackmailed me into doing all kinds of things or I'd get into trouble. That's what siblings are for, right? But I gotta hand it to her. She really knew how to work it. I was out of my league. :(
So I hid the money away. I figured with no proof...no doughnut crumb trail...no blown fireworks...that I was safe. But ya know, there was a part of me that felt a little bit guilty.  But I had A.D.D. so that didn't last. Rather, I just forgot about it.
I didn't want to forget. I just did. Maybe it was a sign that I'd be forgetting things as I got older. Like important locker combinations at the gym that I've gone to a thousand times and then suddenly I had to have the lock cut off because my brain was occupied with the last episode of the Jersey Shore. You know...important stuff like tanning and pickles!
Yesterday, I went through a box of old toys and found that money hidden in a pencil box along with my spongebob squarepants collectibles. I totally had an episode like this.
It was kinda like Christmas only less spectacular like Hannukkah only for the non-Jewish I guess?. I felt sorry. Like OMG KURT sorry.
But it gave me this great, absolutely fantabulous idea for Mother's Day that all kids want to ask. I just hope you don't have a reaction like this:
So here it is...

CAN I BORROW ANOTHER TWENTY DOLLARS?

Hee hee have a Happy Mother's Day weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Google Shouts It Gets Better Loud And Clear - Thank You

The It Gets Better Project is an incredible inspiration and I hope that the message keeps spreading because it needs to. The It Gets Better Project supports The Trevor Project, GLSEN, and the ACLU LGBT Project. Google is now behind it and one of the many reasons that I believe that there is absolute genius behind this company. Their products are amazing whether you want to talk about the Google phone (Android) and witness its outstanding GPS powered by Google Earth, its search engine, YouTube, or even Blogger, they spare no expense in the pursuit of excellence.
The above advertisement was paid for by Google and was run during this week's episode of Glee during the first commercial break. I watch Glee irregularly as I just prefer different "kinds" of shows. But I do occasionally watch it. But that's not what I wanted to say here.

Google is using its dollars to speak about an important cause. There continues to be so much negative and hateful speech out there for LGBT people and this was a huge counter to that. They are an enormous company sticking their neck out to purchase ad time on one of TV's top shows and saying to the world that they support gay people and that it does get better. Gay youth are a huge part of the homeless problem everywhere and I see it in Utah. Kids that are born gay are kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the streets because their parents see it as a lifestyle choice.

Thank you Google and to all of the people that signed on with this message in this advertisement from celebrities like Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, Kathy Griffin, and Anne Hathaway to people I've never seen.

One message,
"There is art to be made, there are songs to be sung, and your life is going to be amazing. However bad it is now, it gets better, and it can be great. It's worth sticking around for and you are perfect and wonderful exactly the way you are. We love you without even knowing you."
Writers please be responsible with your words. You are more powerful than you can possibly imagine and what you put down will be read by people that you can never know. You have so many stories to tell, so much talent, and I just want to ask you to please be aware of this.

Your work shall outlive you and become your legacy. What you pen today can change the world.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fast Five Blew Me Away

I saw Fast Five this weekend in DBox and I absolutely loved it. Man...what a fantasy. Money, exotic locations, the most gorgeous men and women in the world, incredible cars, more money, super models, bad guys, more money...OMG! It had seriously THE MOST INCREDIBLE CAR CHASE EVER when they tow an entire bank vault behind the cars at 90 miles per hour through the streets of Rio De Janeiro on a cable and slinging it around like a frickin' wrecking ball.  Forget suspension of disbelief...this was simply so awesome that I don't care about the physics! Give me more! If that scene alone had been a query letter and I was some big-time agent...I would have requested the full manuscript bar none!

If you have the time, watch this music video. It has nearly 150 million hits on it and it's the song that plays when they open the vault at the end and 100 MILLION DOLLARS comes pouring out. I have to admit...despite the fact it's ill-gotten gains, I want this fantasy.  When I saw the tsunami (p.c.?)of money pouring onto the floor at the climax of the film, I could actually feel my spirit soar (along with all the characters on screen) and how happy this kind of money would make me.
So yeah...I bought the fantasy. Hearing this song makes me want to see the movie over and over again.

This is my Fast Five wish list:

1) I want muscles like the Rock or Vin Diesel...

2) I want the $500,000 cars...

3) I want the excitement...

4) Super models at your beck and call would be nice...

O.o deep sigh

Is it wrong to want these things?

Is it wrong to think...damn...that is the COOLEST THING EVER! Is it wrong to glorify crime so?

There are people in this world a plenty that have money like that. Like the top 1% of America, right?

Why do some people get it so good?

Oh well...back to my day job...and dreaming about the world of Fast Five.

Monday, May 2, 2011