Thursday, June 30, 2011

Please Avoid These Gay Stereotypes In Your Writing Or I May Suffer An Aneurysm When I Read Your Book

This post grew out of a discussion I had with Roguemutt on his post yesterday that has to do with his novel, "Where You Belong" which I'm enjoying. However, one of his characters is gay and some of the stereotypes straight writers use when they are writing gay characters are annoying so I thought I'd point them out to you so you could STOP IT! Credit goes to writer Melinda Lo who provided much of the analysis presented here.

1.) The effeminate gay man. For many gay people, the flaming queen is a mixed blessing. I’m not denying that flamboyant, feminine gay guys do exist. In fact, one could argue that they paved the way for many folks to come out of the closet because it is impossible to hide their sexual orientation. It takes a ton of courage to be out as a flamboyant gay man in our culture.

But in many representations of gay men, being effeminate is dismissed as a joke — as something to laugh at or as entertainment. Being labeled as effeminate can also result in physical assault, verbal abuse, and murder. Keep this in mind if you’re writing about a character who is a feminine boy: Understand that living in the world is a more dangerous place for him because he presents as feminine. And if you describe a gay character in feminine terms, ask yourself: Why have you chosen this kind of representation? How does that change him? It’s not just about acting like a diva and being a girl’s best friend.

2.) The mannish lesbian. Similarly, butch women have also been on the front lines of gay representation, because this is what mainstream society tends to recognize as lesbian. But unlike stereotypes of feminine gay men, the masculine woman is rarely seen as something fun or entertaining. Mainstream society often condemns her as unnatural, or as a threatening figure. It also takes a lot of courage to walk in the world as a butch lesbian. To endure taunts and about your lack of femininity; to battle for your right to wear what you want. In the worst cases, those taunts can result in violence. From day 1, it seems, our culture encourages little girls to love the color pink and to want to be princesses. If you don’t want to do that, you challenge a deeply held belief about what a girl is. So if you’re writing about a lesbian who is masculine or butch, keep this in mind: Being butch doesn’t mean that you want to be a man. It’s a different way of being a woman.

3.) The promiscuous or devious bisexual. The stereotype of the bisexual as promiscuous or deceptive is probably less prevalent in YA than in adult fiction, film, or television, largely because this stereotype involves sex. But keep it in mind if you’re writing a character who is bi.

Often, people mistakenly believe that bisexuals have many sexual partners, or that they change sexual partners frequently. Alternatively, they may believe that bisexuals are being deceptive about their sexual orientation in order to trick someone. Even gay people can have the mistaken belief that bisexuals aren’t really bi; they’re just confused about whether they’re gay or straight.

But that’s not true. There is no evidence that bisexuals are any more promiscuous than anyone else. The word “bisexual” does not mean that a person is equally and continuously attracted to people of both sexes. It means that a person could potentially be attracted to people of both sexes. It may be true that all of us are, to some degree, bisexual.

4.) Dead gays. Gay characters created for the exclusive purpose of winding up dead in your fiction. Think of the Star Trek redshirt. Example in film: The Sopranos (only gay character dead). Orson Scott Card also uses gays as cannon fodder.

5.) The Pregnant Lesbian. For some reason, people who write lesbians think they're being incredibly original by having a story about a lesbian couple trying to get pregnant. This has been done exactly 2 million times before. It creates a scenario where, despite not having relationships with men, the lesbians still need men desperately.

6.) Homosexuals as villains. It's been done over and over and over. IT'S NOT ORIGINAL. IN FACT, IT'S CLICHE AND I WISH YOU WRITERS OUT THERE WOULD GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEADS THAT HOMOSEXUAL DOES NOT EQUATE TO EVIL. Here is the short list of films and books that I could think of where this occurs (there is more out there, this took me five minutes to compile). As you can indeed see by my list...yes, yes, yes, yes...this has been done before and is unoriginal.
  • Diamonds are Forever
  • Magnum Force (Dirty Harry movie)
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • The Detective
  • Freebie and the Bean
  • Mystic River
  • The Boys of St. Vincent
  • The Jackal
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Ace Ventura
  • Braveheart
  • Dune
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Rob Roy
  • A Perfect World
  • The Mexican
  • Tron: Legacy
  • 300
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Casablanca
  • Psycho
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Ender's Game
  • True Blood
  • Where You Belong
  • One Life To Live (soap opera)
  • Desperate Housewives
  • 24 (Fox's political thriller)
  • Austin Powers
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Interview With The Vampire
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Disney's "The Jungle Book"
  • Disney's "Pocahontas"
  • Disney's "Aladdin"
  • Disney's "The Lion King" - Scar puts the gay in that pride
  • A Portrait of Dorian Gray
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • HBO's Oz (A prison drama)
  • American Beauty
    Rant over. Have a great Thursday :)

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    My Thoughts On Weekends, MG Fiction, & WWJD


    Have I regaled you with my acerbic wit? Have a happy Hump Day :)

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    A Chat With Cindy Borgne-The Author of VALLAR

    I loved Cindy Borgne's debut novel entitled VALLAR. And you know what, there are some real perks that come with keeping a blog, and one of them is that you can actually ask the author questions (especially when they are as open to questions as Cindy is). And anyone that follows my blog knows that I question this really shouldn't be a surprise. First off is my review:

    I finished this book today and I must say, I thought it was an outstanding debut. I gave it four stars instead of five because there are a few places in the book where a word is needed and not included or a term is misused. However, editing without the benefit of a publisher behind you can be an extremely daunting task. As it stands, VALLAR is quite an achievement.

    Cindy's world is as authentic as they come. She knows Mars down to the names of the canyons and how little wind it would take to start a red dust storm on this mysterious fourth planet. Adding to the mystery, Cindy has created a future in which two corporate giants battle over the fate of a mine and the one that ends up doing the most monstrous inhuman acts is ironically the one that desires to return to earth the most. I find this fascinating because earth is at the heart of humanity (and by being a monster) this guy really shouldn't be allowed anywhere near it. Maybe this is a subtle statement on the author's part in that Beacon knows he's a monster and wants to reclaim his humanity.

    The voice of Ian Connors is strong in this book. He's the sixteen year-old protagonist and I envisioned him as looking like the kid named Ryan in two Smallville episodes. In the episodes that I'm referring to, Ryan has been experimented upon by a Dr. Mengele-type person in a laboratory and had a tumor created inside his brain that gives him psychic ability. Superman kind of adopts him as a little brother and Ryan eventually dies from this while Clark is with him. I have to say...I cried at the end of this. I loved the Ryan's a YouTube video so you can see Ryan:
    I see a lot of parallels between Ryan and Cindy's Protagonist. Ian is a protagonist that we can cheer for as he breaks away from the singular military purpose to which he was created and shackled and uses all of his powers to help the woman with whom he is in love. His sacrifice becomes shocking as he loses his best friend and almost his own life for a person that he knows only from his dreams. Luckily, she seems to share his passion so, at the heart of Vallar is a love story.

    This book easily stands by itself but also begs a sequel. I expect that Cindy will be letting us know more about Nate and his recovery (he had horrific things done to him) and also there are hints of a new evil bad guy that is rising amidst the ranks of Marscorp (the organization of all evilness). Perhaps we can have some more information about the planet Hinun as well for it intrigues me (and I'm sure it will have this effect on other readers).

    The action in the book is pretty much non-stop. If this were going to be adapted into a movie, it would require a significant CGI team. But it doesn't get overwhelming. There are plenty of emotional breaks and even though the novel is told in first person, Ian's ability to project himself psychically and to see outside his own body through portals in the future, allow for many more stimuli that would normally not be available in the context of a book that adhered with a strict first-person point-of-view.

    Now without further adieu...the Q & A:
    1) Why did you choose Mars as your setting as opposed to some other planet in the solar system for your book?

    Several things in my story grew from tiny seeds or from twisting things around. I’ve been working on this story for years and things just evolved. Next thing I knew, I was on Mars. Okay, not exactly.

    Let me try and explain further. Before I had a plot, I only had the character of Ian Connors, the psychic. At first, I wrote stories about him on a future Earth. Then I did some experimenting with the story and wrote a few chapters with him on Mars. It wasn’t as easy because I had to deal with the limitation of Mars such as if anyone goes outside they must be in a spacesuit. However, I liked the challenge because it added more complications, dangers and going to Mars was a way of taking the reader to a strange place. Mars makes sense as a stepping stone if humans are going to further explore space, so I continued with the story there. Also there are certain things that happen in VALLAR that can only happen on Mars.

    2) Why did you make Ian only sixteen years of age? Also any specific reason for making your protagonist male as opposed to female?

    I’ve experimented with Ian being different ages, even up to age thirty. I ended up going with sixteen because it adds to his innocence and ties in with the father/son relationship that develops in the story. If he was older, his desire to have a father wouldn’t make as much sense.

    These days there are so many books about female protagonists. I like to be original and wanted to do something different.

    3) Why did you choose to write VALLAR in first person point-of-view as opposed to say, third person point-of-view?

    I wrote some scenes with this story in third person, but I ended up going with first because I liked the voice better. It sounded more personal. First person helps me get inside the mind of the character. This led to the story being written in a way that lets the reader discover surprises and other things through Ian’s eyes.  

    4) Scientists like Carl Sagan believe that there is a kind of dance that science-fiction does with science, i.e., one kind of circles around the other. Your novel is set 100 years into the future. Do you think that earthlings will be able to reach Mars given the way things are going now in that time period? (My note==> not sure where I got 100 years either hmmmm.)

    I’m not sure how you got the idea it was 100 years in the future since I don’t have any dates in the book. My latest blurb says that Earth abandoned the colonies one hundred years after they had been there, but it doesn’t say when they arrived. I decided to let readers speculate as to the year and left it out on purpose. At one time I was going to make the year 2150. I think earthlings could be capable of reaching Mars in 100 years, however, I don’t think the effort will be there. It’s hard to justify the cost with our current economy and other problems in the world.  

    5) Do you think you will keep your sequel to Vallar PG-13 or do you think we can expect some sexy scenes in the future?

    This is a tough question because some of my readers consider VALLAR to be a young adult book. I can tell that you did not view it that way. It’s one of those books that’s on the edge of young adult. This sort of thing has always been a subject of controversy with young adult books too. How far does one go? Decisions, decisions…. personally I’d like to go for steamy, yet tastefully done. I’m not sure if it will turn R-rated yet. Most likely I will get reader opinions on this because I don’t want to disappoint.

    6) You use sites on Mars (like the Noctis Labyrinthis) to stage incredibly dramatic scenes. However, I'm thinking that other locations might have been equally cool...say Olympus Mons which is the largest mountain in the solar system. Do you plan on using additional locations on Mars in the sequels and if so, can you give us a glimpse of a particular scene that you've played out in your head that may be super cool?

    There will probably be one scene at the southern polar cap that will involve ice. It’s hard to say much more about this without giving something away. Olympus Mons could be another location. Who knows what might be inside that old volcano?  
    Check out the super cool Mars Map that Cindy made for her book. It comes in really useful as a tool.

    7) Now that I've read the book, the cover art is dead-on to an extremely important central area of the book. However, were there other scenes that you consulted with your cover artist or did you just let the artist pick any scene with a (surprise me and we'll see) kind of tagline?

    I’m finding that people understand the cover art after they read the book. I’ve been wondering how it’s been coming across before they read it. I’m still not sure if I’m satisfied with it. The current cover art is from my first idea. I’m considering taking the ship off and expanding Ian’s face. Then with the sequel, I would have an image of Ian along with his love interest Kayla next to each other. With Indie publishing you can always try something else, and we are working on it. If you or anyone has some suggestions, please feel free to let me know.   

    8) Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

    Ian Connors, the main character. Sometimes people associate an ability like being psychic with a super hero, but I think Ian is far from that. His ability is useful, but it also causes him problems. He’s just a young guy trying to do the right thing and be normal, and I like this about him. I also like how his innocence gets him into trouble. On the other hand he can be stubborn against those trying to control him.  

    Sonny is a close second. He represents the working man. The guy that works hard no matter how many injustices he’s suffered. He took on a life of his own and he changes a lot throughout the story. Some readers have mentioned to me that how much they like him. I might let Sonny be the main character in his own novel.

    9) From your experience in writing Vallar, what advice would you give an aspiring science-fiction writer?

    The best thing to do is participate in a critique group. You need about eight to ten beta readers. My favorite place is Critique Circle. You will be able to tell by the responses if you’re ready to publish or to query agents. However, there will always be someone who won’t like your story. It doesn’t mean your story is bad. It just might not be for them. It takes some experience to know the difference. Getting feedback is the main thing.

    Research is important with science fiction, so you can be sure you have all your facts straight. It’s also important to be familiar with the science fiction market and what’s popular, although with the e-book boom all the book markets are changing fast. 

    10) You use a villain to great effect in VALLAR. What do you think are important traits in establishing an effective antagonist?

    The antagonist has to be the hardest character to get across as being realistic. One method I used was to slowly build up Admiral Beacon as the villain. In the beginning, he doesn’t seem so bad and that was done on purpose because in real life people always seem okay on the surface. 

    We all have met antagonists in real life in one form or another. For Admiral Beacon, I drew on my own personal experiences with bosses. How many of us have had bosses that don’t really care about us? At one time, I worked at a place where I was a dedicated employee who had no problem going all out for them. Then for several months I had a condition that was causing me to be late for work. My uncaring boss who I thought was a friend threatened to fire me the entire time even though she was retiring in four months. She didn’t care about my pain. She only cared about herself. That’s what Beacon represents - the bosses of the world who care about their quotas more than people. So for your antagonist, build them from real life examples. 

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Captain America GQ 2011

    Dear ladies that read my blog (and any men that feel comfortable commenting on this post), I have one simple question for you.

    If a car was hurtling toward you in the parking lot that would result in your inescapable death, would you prefer to be saved by Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies (adaptation of the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer) or by this man...

    Chris Evans...

    Who plays the stars and stripes Captain America superhero from the Marvel Comics of the same name. Here are the photographs from Cap's photo spread taken by famed photographer Mario Testino.

    Here's the newest movie trailer that hit June 22nd for your Monday pleasure :) Remember, the movie comes out July 22nd, 2011. Go Red, White, and Blue!

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    How Do You Define Time?

    I read on other writer blogs about the need to manage time or advice on how to steal time to write (maybe with cleverly done photoshopped pictures that include the names of great people who somehow managed to write with all of the things going on in their lives). Then usually there is some snippy quote that says, "They have the same amount of time per day as you...what is your excuse?" And I start thinking... this is so not true.

    How do you define time? Einstein was the first to propose that space and time were interconnected and that time is simply how objects interact with each other with respect to their position within relative space. And this is absolutely true. There are atomic clocks in Boulder, Colorado right now that are the most accurate in the world. They work by measuring the precise oscillation of certain atoms within a vacuum and only lose a second of time every 3.5 billion years or so. When one of these clocks was raised off the ground by several feet, it fell out of sync with the other clock. The reason is that gravity effects time. By moving one clock off the ground, it was further from the center of the Earth, and therefore time passed a little faster for it than for its neighbor that sat next to it in the same room. At the center of the Milky Way and in billions of other galaxies are these super massive black holes that eat millions of solar masses per second where gravity is so incredibly powerful, that time in the singularity is warped infinitely. Mathematics cannot explain it. Physics essentially fails.

    Then there is the matter of time dilation (I break out some math here but it isn't complicated. It is only a square root and I'm sure that you writers out there can handle a square root). I had to make this into a photo on my scanner because the equation editor of Microsoft Word doesn't paste into blogger:
    Time dilation is also very real. M.I.T. discovered this in the decay of muons when they measured how many decayed at the top of a mountain and how many decayed in their laboratory on campus (essentially at sea level). The closer you get to the speed of light, the closer T prime will get to 0 so that at exactly the speed of light, no time would ever pass for you while it continued to pass for everyone else not moving at your velocity.

    What happens when you snap your fingers? You hear a sound, you see it happen, and it appears instantaneous. There is a slight delay in the processing of this information to your brain so essentially, everything that we say or do has a slight lag to it. We never experience the actual "now" that we think we are experiencing. Everything that we do takes place slightly in the past. Neurosurgeons are starting to talk about the possibility that lesions or scarring of the brain can "unhinge" a person from time so that there is no clear perception of past or present and that things can become all mixed up.

    In my own life, I think schizophrenia has robbed my mother of the ability to process "time". She becomes so confused...sometimes she thinks that I still live in Idaho, at other times she has no idea what day it is or how long it has been since I visited. But then she starts speaking French, remembers flashes of her childhood, thinks that people who are dead are alive again and that she's speaking to them. Some people call this crazy...but I'm not so sure anymore. I think that lesions on her brain have caused her to become unhinged in time. It makes me question if time even exists or if we create it with our minds as our bodies track motion through space and interpret actions such as sight or sound which are then uploaded by our brains to our consciousness. If you think of a car accident or other traumatic event, time seems to slow down, and details of the crash become burned into your memory. Doctors are now saying that this is due to your mind laying down dense layers of information which in effect...slows down the perception of time for you. People that smoke pot or use drugs can make statements like, "how long have I been standing here?" because the drug prevents their brain from creating anchor points by which you can measure the passage of time.

    In writing, it makes sense to me, especially in fantasy, that creatures might perceive time differently. Dragons with enormous lifespans could sleep for thousands of years because to them, a day would be a small percentage of their immortality. Humans...who only have a lifespan of 80 years or so...experience time and its passing much differently. A day is far more precious because it is a larger percentage of your total life span. However, the longer you live, the faster a day is going to seem to pass because your lifespan reduces a day within the totality of your existence.

    How do you define time? The more I think about it...the more I cannot wrap my head around the concept of this thing that dominates our lives. "All you do in this life, echoes in eternity" --Honor by August in the song, "Found".

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Foreshadowing: The Art of Good Storytelling In A Song of Ice and Fire

    FORESHADOWING is a plot device in which an author suggests certain plot developments that might come later in a story. As much as I pick on George R.R. Martin, the man is a brilliant writer to whom I can only aspire to be as great (don't let him know that...he already has a fat head). One of the reasons he's brilliant is because the man knows how to foreshadow.

    The reason I wanted to talk about this topic today is due to a short conversation that I had with writer Tamara Paulin on Monday regarding the hatching of the dragons in the television series "A Game of Thrones" by HBO during the season finale. I had expected the eggs to hatch even before I started reading the books (which occurred mid-season...around episode five). She was totally taken by surprise and even "Squeeeee'd"... This is an interesting reaction to me. How many more of you out there pay absolutely no attention to foreshadowing?
    One does not give dragon eggs in fantasy unless they are to hatch. Okay, exception...a writer does this if he or she is a bad writer. But if you're a good writer...they will hatch. Martin is a good writer. If you don't agree with this statement, then you're bad.

    If you didn't expect this, then you need to clue into the technique, because it will make you a much stronger writer. I'm not saying this with any "writer" laurels. I don't have an agent, I'm not published, but I'm not stupid either. I'm saying this as a reader (and I happen to consider myself a damn good reader at that). So here's a reader telling you aspiring writers out there... you should use "foreshadowing".  Here are examples I have pulled from George R.R. Martin along with my predictions. Regarding some of these plot developments, I'd be willing to bet money on if you'd like (just to make it more interesting).  DISCLAIMER: None of these predictions have come to pass yet in the books so this is not a spoiler. This is simply my critical reading of the foreshadowing evident in the books/film adaptation.

    1) The Wall. It's 800 feet tall and hundreds of miles long. PREDICTION: This thing is going to come down. He's already introduced a plot device that will accomplish this...a one of the books. The Wildlings refused to use it...but I don't care...the wall is coming down. You don't build something this big and then just have it stand and work.  Think of how dumb the conversation would be... "Hey, did that wall work?" Answer: " worked really well."  Next question: "Hey, so it's kinda boring cause it worked, right?" Answer: " worked." /end of books.
    No one includes a wall like this in a fantasy series if you don't, indeed, intend for it to come tumbling down. Again, if Mr. Martin does this...he's a bad writer. He's not a bad writer...this baby is going to totally blow up in a most spectacular fashion.

    2) The Eyrie. We've heard that it's "impregnable" over and over in the books. A fortress built on a mountain accessible by a goat path. Sansa would hate to be caught there in the winter. Oh how bleak and horrible a place it must be in the winter, etc. etc. PREDICTION: GUESS WHAT...this fortress is going to be used probably as the last stand of the Vale of Arryn when the white walkers invade. It's going to be epic. Plus, I predict that a dragon saves Sansa or someone of importance from the Moon Door. Why? Because dragons can fly and Sansa is terrified of the Moon Door. If this ends up coming true, I predict the Eyrie going up in towering flames that cause the mountain fortress to blaze in dragonfire that lights up like a miniature sun.  RULE: You don't include a frickin' fortress on a mountaintop in a fantasy series and say it is impregnable if you don't, in fact, intend to impregnate it!

    3) Daenerys will turn into a dragon. We've already seen her survive intense fire and have dragons suckle from her teats (in the book). She's called the mother of dragons in the book and she declares, "I am the dragon!" over and over. She says she'll never have kids in her womb...well that's cause she's gonna become a fire-breathing reptile. To be honest...I'm not so certain of this prediction. However, it would be cool.
    4) Bran will walk again. No one goes to the kinds of trouble Mr. Martin has gone to in having this kid be a cripple for so long without him not being cured of it in some miracle near the end. The kid wants to be a knight...he shall be one with one of his father's swords in his hand (reforged from ICE). 

    I think that foreshadowing for the most part is too ambitious for most beginning writers and is something that only experienced ones can truly use. There are many reasons for this: 1) You don't know if your book is ever going to be published so you can't employ a technique (unless extremely weak that can be developed later) that will come to fruition in later books. 2) You're limited in your word count. There's only so much you can do in 80,000 words once you've worked in your love triangle, described the characters, and then given them something to do while you have the love triangle play its way out. Sorry, but that's why romance tends to suck...there's no room for any other fantastic writing tools in so little a space. And romance is almost required for a book to be published these days because it means $$$. 3) Foreshadowing requires plotting and most writers these days seem content to do this "pantsing" thing which seems like lazy writing to me (I've no idea why people do it other than they are so excited over a character that the just want to get writing--no idea why this happens either). Don't get me wrong...pantsing will get you agents and book contracts and $$$ but I seriously doubt if it will ever win you critical acclaim for your book. All that matters though is making money...who cares if high-brow people think you suck as a writer, right?

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    The Nine Lives of Chloe King YA Paranormal With A Terrible Moral Compass

    The Nine Lives of Chloe King if anything is unoriginal. At its best, it's a shoddy knockoff of a series that died called "Birds of Prey" which followed the escapades of the Huntress (Batman's daughter) and tanked after a few episodes. At it's worst, it has a terrible moral compass and is disturbing on many layers. In brief, the pilot episode had the subtle messages:

    1) It's okay to lie about your age where sex and getting into a bar are concerned.

    2) If you commit criminally negligent manslaughter, then it's okay as long as you didn't know that what you did could kill someone. WTF??! More on this below.

    Now, I don't watch many ABC Family shows but I gave this a try because the premiere was last week (I missed it), however, you can download the premiere for free on iTunes (which I did).

    First off, the lead-up promotions to this show were absolutely insane if you got in on it early (which I didn't). You could play this game where they sent you an Egyptian box in the mail that included a "Nine Lives of Chloe King" free iPad 2 that had an Egyptian hieroglyph on the back plus a bunch of cards and clues that you followed on that iPad. Then the winner got some grand prize (I assume it's to go to one of the live tapings of the show). I would rather have had the iPad 2 to be honest.

    Anyway...impressions from the show.

    1) Everyone is skinny and the setting is very rich (urban San Francisco). In case you don't gotta be making some bucks to be able to live the city life of San Fran and send your kids to high school there. No $50,000 a year State government job is going to cut it...try making at least four times that. However, it's the kind of rich that you see on Beverly Hills 90210...less subtle and ostentatious but if you know your designers and you know how much hairdos, shoes, cars, morning coffees with biscotti, and tech costs...then you can add up the cost of this lifestyle for parents and kids alike. It's really no wonder that the main character is white...just sayin'. However, it's also a huge lie. Very few people can actually live this kind of lifestyle yet young women grow up with expectations of just this. So I guess if you want your daughters to grow up with entitlement on their minds then this is definitely another show you should add to the list of brainwashing that gets pumped to today's youth.

    2) Everyone is beautiful. Main character is blond with blue eyes with token Asian friend (who is probably good at math) and dark-haired (tag along BFF). There are no "real" people...ever. "Real" meaning people who have weight problems, maybe who have eyes that are too far apart, or too close together, are losing hair, or who work real jobs (the adults in the show gotta have lots of free time to send covert messages, keep tabs on people, or to be available for kids whenever they need to "talk".) Food when consumed is only in the swanky sushi parlors. There's no fried chicken and hamburgers.

    All you needed was a blog to get this sent to you.
    3) Once again everyone that is "Sixteen" is obviously older because to me they look twenty. That's just how Hollywood goes about these things...If you're twenty, you can fool sheeple into thinking that you're sixteen (but not really). I've never been fooled by it but I guess some people are which I don't understand. For example: Glee cast members look almost thirty to me but whatever...they're supposed to be teenagers.

    4) Favorite Quotes: "I just wish I could get kissed..." Keep in mind the main character is a blond bombshell. This is the same as an obese man saying, "I just wish I could eat a frickin' doughnut!" Also it does play into the fact that her kiss is deadly to mere humans thereby sealing her into loneliness unless she is to mate with another of the Mai.

    Mom says to Chloe, "Your father wasn't a big fan of questions"...this just goes along with the cliche "Men are not good at communication." Whatever...this is cliche.

    5) Cliche Lies: Some dude to Chloe at a nightclub, "Don't get me wrong...but you look kinda young." Answer from Chloe, "Oh, I'm eighteen..." (awkward smile).  MESSAGE to young women: lie about your age to men so you can get attention and maybe some sex. If you don't like the sex, you can call it rape and have the perv arrested.

    6) Everyone has super white, perfect teeth.  Even the street bum.

    7) The villain in the pilot is a black man. That isn't enough though...he has a scar on his left cheek from where she clawed him with her cat nails (different than press-on nails). Additionally, a bum tried to rape her (the one with perfect teeth) after she wouldn't give him some money. MESSAGE: Black men are evil and men without jobs are rapists.

    8) The high school jock is blond with blue eyes and could be an amateur bodybuilder easy...maybe professional. Plus there is no acne at all on any of the supposed "teens". Super clear complexions. You find out later that he's one of the special "Mai" that are this super race which maybe goes to explain his incredibly "rockin" body but again...whatever. More Hollywood crap.

    9) Lots of Apple plugs because "Apple" is the tech brand that is popular amongst young rich kids.

    10) She discovers her powers in the same wide-eyed goofy way that Tobey Maguire did in the original Spiderman. In fact, she seems a lot like a female spiderman but I guess being part cat makes you super strong and agile, she has tons of energy, and superhuman hearing.

    11) Every conversation between Chloe and her BFF (when no one else is around) is about boys, kissing, and potential coupling. There was lots of squealing and "OMG...did he kiss you? ... Yeah I think he did!!!" stuff. There was also reinforcement from the BFF that she needs to see the guy she kissed with his shirt off first before making a choice (reinforcing that the dude had better have six-pac abs or is unworthy of 'boyfriend' status).

    12) Real parents are gone (she's adopted). If that weren't enough, her adopted dad was a dead-beat dad. Dad left over ten years ago leaving mother to come up with all the money to afford a San Francisco lifestyle (remember when I said it was expensive to live there? Look San Fran up sometime and you'll see).
    Checkout this cast of...ermmm...regular teenagers.

    13) Every shot of San Francisco includes the Trans America Pyramid. I'm just waiting for the first chase scene on cars because San Fran has hills and there is always some chase seen with cars bouncing on hills.

    14) She's part of some strange race where if she kisses someone she kills mortal men. So her touch is poisonous/deadly to guys. This "forced loneliness" opens the series to much angst of course and forced romance as she can't have guys or kills them (we've seen this before a lot). Lana Lang became poisonous to Clark Kent (Superman) in Smallville. In Tahereh Mafi's upcoming "Shatter Me" her heroine kills with a touch. In Marvel comics, the X-Men called "Rogue" kills people if she holds onto them too long. That's how she got all of Miss Marvel's powers.

    I have issues with this curse, primarily, in how it's being handled by the show. She murdered an innocent guy that she met at a nightclub after lying to him about her age and kissing him outside. Yes...he went home and died on the floor of his apartment. At the end, she cries about it and the other Mai say, "It's didn't know that this would happen." I think that this is bullshit.

    Criminally negligent manslaughter in the United States is a crime and it doesn't matter if the woman involved is sixteen, rich, white, lives in San Francisco and enjoys sushi and shops at boutiques, and is the member of some ancient race of perfect white people that served Egyptian Pharaohs. If she doesn't turn herself in, I'm seriously going to be pissed at this show because it sends a terrible message to kids. "Oh I just hit some guy and killed him with my truck on a dark road because I was talking on my cell phone and telling my BFF about how handsome this new boy is that I met." (looks around to make sure no one was watching)...then hits the gas and drives off.  I'm going to watch this show for a few more episodes but if this issue is dropped, I'm going to send a terrible letter to the producers of this show. I'm tired of crap like this being shoveled down our throats.

    15) The CW's successful formula of pairing Pop music with the show. I can't complain about this as I like Pop music. It's smart to do this, actually.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    My Thoughts On A Few Shows

    Wow what a weekend for shows. I didn't make it to Tree of Life as I'd planned but will do so sometime this week. The movie I did get to was Green was so-so but I liked all the flashy stuff. I saw it at a matinee so I don't feel that I wasted too much of my money. If anything, the film was too long and had some boring parts in it. I just wanted Hal Jordan to kick some ass and it took a while for him to get around to doing so. And then the whole Hector as Parallax's minion wasn't entertaining at all. I'm not sure what exactly he was supposed to be other than some guy that ranted about how Hal Jordan always got everything and he got handed a steamy pile of crap. Plus the effect of Parallax being all smoky and just winding around skyscrapers looked cheesy. "I'm a smoke monster...hear me roar...!"

    Falling Skies on TNT was awesome. I really got into the characters and am looking forward to following this series all summer. I thought that the effects given the aliens were good, I like how they revealed a lot of the backstory through different voices (especially those of the children), and I like the whole idea of the "harness" turning kids into brain slaves. I'm kinda wondering where they'll be going with this. I guess it's not all a curse because in the preview for next week's episode, one guy remarked that his son who had trouble breathing had been "cured" by the alien harness. it controls you but cures you of diseases...hmmm.  How is this going to play out in the course of the show?

    Then of course I watched the season finale of Game of Thrones. This series thus far has been stunning, however, the dragons at the end of last night's episode looked terrible (think Photoshopped onto the screen by someone that couldn't get hired on by Industrial Light and Magic).  I'm really concerned about how some of the jaw dropping scenes are going to look in seasons two and three. Like, how is the attack on the Fist of the First Men going to look when the white walkers destroy the 300 men of the Night's Watch? How are the dragons going to look when Daenerys uses Drogon to kill the corrupt slavers in the city of Astapor?  Ugh...think SyFy Network special effects of Megashark vs. Giant Octopus and you've got the picture.

    Camelot is also now over for the season and I have to say that this show was a huge disappointment for me. It seemed to start out strong and there were several parts of it that I liked but then it just went downhill and actually kinda got boring lol. I really don't know if I'll watch it next season if there is even a next season (I get the impression others didn't like it that much either from reading the forums). 

    Have a great Monday and I hope your Father's Day weekend was excellent.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    The Mysterious Kissing Couple & An Angry Voicemail LOL

    I have to admit...I'm a little intrigued by this photo. It's become the most iconic picture of the 2011 Vancouver riots following their loss of the Stanley Cup. I guess media is trying to find out the story behind this. It has an air of high romance to it (in my opinion). The guy and the gal are both comely, look like they're deeply in love, and whatever is happening in their lives obviously takes second place to how they feel about each other while a city burns down around them.

    I wonder what's going on here... I smell a Pulitzer prize for the reporter that nails this story especially if it is a good one. Here's a link to an article that tells a little more about it and the photographer that got the picture.

    What do you guys and gals think is going on here? Do you think it was staged? It makes me want to write a story set in Vancouver during all this lol. Ice hockey is such serious business.

    If you go out this weekend for Father's Day and happen to go to the Alamo Drafthouse, don't talk or text on your phone cause they'll kick you out. This is an actual voicemail they got from one such angry customer. I laughed my ass off:

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Samuel L. Jackson Reads "Go The F--- To Sleep"

    Oh this is too precious. Adam Mansbach’s Go The Fuck To Sleep is described as “a children’s book for adults,” a satirical pastiche of warm and fuzzy bedtime story tropes rewritten as a commentary on the often-frustrating experiences of being a parent—specifically the ordeal of, yes, trying to get your kids to go the fuck to sleep already. It quickly became a No. 1 hit on Amazon, had its movie rights optioned by Fox 2000, and now it’s an audiobook narrated by none other than Samuel L. Jackson, bard of the F-bomb. And by going to, you can download it for free, just in time for Father’s Day.

    Here's a sample of the read-a-long for your pleasure (I was ROFLMAO):

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Eight Rules To Publishing Success

    I wanted to go over my checklist of things that I've learned from the internets in order to get my writing published. These rules are applicable to a debut author only. Authors that have already earned their chops can publish their laundry lists which is hardly interesting or exceptional in my opinion. Also, there is no sarcasm in my post. Otherwise I'm a dirty frickin' liar and Stephen Colbert is not an actor.

    1) Show, Don't Tell. Source: Just about everyone (including Misha on her Tuesday post). When can you break this rule? When you have lots of sheeple as followers and you are essentially famous (if not A-List then C-D list celebrity still the dude that got a pic of himself posted to Twitter when Paris Hilton was passed out drunk at a Hollywood sex party still works).

    2) Girl point-of-view only. Source: Numerous agent blogs. Women buy books, men buy video games, drink beer, and send pics of their bare chests to single women (especially true if married because men hate the feeling that their greatness has been tied to one person--honestly--the length of a man's dick needs to be shared with others). When can you break this? If you write for an audience younger than 10 or older than 30.


    3) Romance. Source: Numerous agent blogs. People who read want to escape reality. Unfortunately this means that much of reality is a cesspit where romance does not exist. People are all about the bottom line (money), want your rent check, and could care less whether you are feeling like shit. If you don't have your rent check then they are interested in you...interested in taking you to court or how soon you'll be moving out. One way or's not the kind of interest you want. Hence...grab a book. When can you break this? If you write for an audience younger than 10 or for straight men.
    4) A clearly defined protagonist and antagonist. Source: Numerous agent blogs. People like good vs. evil. When can you break this? When you are George R.R. Martin.

    5) Include hot men. Source: Nearly every book in print. Women and gay men like their men smokin' hot with six pac abs and forever stuck in that senior in high school period of time.  When can you break this? Only if you write for straight men (good luck finding that audience).

    If we dream of perfection...why the hell not write about it too, right? Here's to you Stephenie Meyer! "Perfect" does not a
    description make but at least you were honest when you said
    you dreamed about it.
    6) Use great English. Source: Universities and professors who speak of getting published but really have no clue. You have a towering education and can put together great sentences similar to Faulkner and Hemingway. Your command of symbolism is akin to Hawthorne. When can you break this? When you are any level of celebrity even if it is so low that your only claim to fame is impregnating a failed vice-presidential candidate's spawn who defrauds her own charity to pocket an extra $200,000 a year. Those Prada shoes gotta be paid for somehow.

    7) Your characters must be white (Caucasian) with blue eyes. Source: Just about every book out there. Seriously, I challenge you to tell me of a debut author that had a traditional publishing contract with a black protagonist. Hitler would be so proud of today's publishing business. Also, despite being a part of the master race and looking sexy, the woman must pine at the ripe old age of 16 at never having been kissed. When can you break this? Only if you submit your manuscript to a small press. Minority issues just screams small press, doesn't it? Because they don't make the $$$$ like the big boys do. The big presses in New York City are all white wash baby. The other exception to this is of course...fame.

    8) Provide advice on crafting an amazing novel. SOURCE: Just about everyone. You've gone to school for years, learned from the best professors at University of California, Irvine, Cornell, Stanford, Yale, Harvard...and you name it.  When can you break this? There are two occasions. The first is by starting a blog. This gives you the ability to provide everyone that visits your little slice of internet heaven your own version of writing advice even if you don't have a leg to stand on. The other is by being an agent. You graduated from an Ivy League school or similar institution and needed to pay rent so you went to work for the equivalent of the Wal-Mart of the writing world (think any huge agency). By that virtue can now tell anyone how to write even if you've never published anything yourself :).

    If you have done all 8 things, you are ready to query. Let me know when you are published so I can be your sheeple. I bleat.

    Did I miss anything? Happy Hump le Hump Day.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Random Mike Is Random

    LOL iPhone cases. Diversity personified.
    My new iPhone background. I love me some Angry Birds especially when I get a rejection letter. If you haven't tried it, the game is very therapeutic.
    Other people on National Sex Day:
    Me On National Sex Day:
    And stop what you are doing to watch these kittens. You will not regret it.
    Happy Tuesday la la la la ~

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Skyrim From E3

    I watched a little of E3 on G4 this weekend and there's some exciting stuff coming out. However, nothing looks as good as the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which is set to come out just before Christmas this year. The graphics in this game are seriously jaw-dropping. You can walk everywhere in the world that they've created and there's so much detail that the world looks real. I mean, you can examine individual plants if you want to. Additionally, dragons can swoop down on you at random (they are each programmed with their own types of behavior so you never know what they are going to do) and you can choose what weapons go in each hand (and gain more powerful spells if you use both hands to cast the same one). Plus there's over a hundred individually hand-crafted dungeons and dragon words that you can use once you've killed a dragon (and thus unlocked them).

    The preview for this game is truly jaw-dropping. If you like games and you like fantasy, I totally think you should watch this whole thing through (Yes I know it's 14 minutes long but if you like games you should have no problem with sitting and watching 14 minutes of the most mind-blowing fantasy game walk through you've ever seen) and be excited for it as I am. My XBox 360 is going to get a workout come fall and what an exciting one it will be. I agree with the announcer at the end of the video that it may just be game of the year.

    Also for those of you waiting for a breath of Diablo III...I guess Blizzard was completely silent on this project at E3.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Great Storytelling - Super 8

    I saw Super 8 and it's the best movie of the summer that I've seen thus far. It almost seems like somehow J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg heard me lamenting the death of the good old fashioned story and said, "Here you go, Mike...we cooked this up just for you." We live in a time where so many novels and movies just seem to be a section of life...plotless things that revolve around pretty people with superpowers whether they be mutants or sparkling vampires. People seem to be content to watch these movies which are simply "about a character" and take up 2-hours of time essentially telling you "all about them" and what is going on in their lives as opposed to an actual story.

    I'll be honest...I hate those types of movies. I hate those kinds of books. I want a plot. I want a story. And I want an ending that is satisfying and leaves me blinking in the dark thinking about it long after it is over.

    Super 8 did exactly this. It is a tour-de-force of masterful storytelling with an introduction to characters, plot, powerful storytelling, good old-fashioned climax, and an ending that left me feeling...wonder.

    This movie made me wish that I had written it.

    Thank you J.J. Abrams. You are a genius. If you have the time this weekend, please go see this movie.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    The Bar For Publishing... O.o

    The bar for publishing a successful novel is pretty damn low in my opinion. Take a look at some of these quotes (and points I have to make) from The Hunger Games (Hint: It's made mega-millions). And back off for a moment all you worshipers of Ms. Collins that think "OMG SHE'S AMAZING HOW CAN U BE SO OBTUSE?"

    The author uses buckets of exclamation points. And I mean buckets!!!!! They must have been going out of style at the local Wal-Mart. My copy of the book had seven exclamation points on page 22 alone as part of the dialogue. It's almost unreadable. I'm surprised she didn't use capital letters too. But she did at least tell me someone was shouting. "'Look at her. Look at this one!' he hollers..." Thank you, Ms. Collins, I had no idea he was hollering but I'm glad you cleared that up. I mean, what the hell is the exclamation point for anyway, right?

    Another point of mine: Dad's (read as "men") work in these brutal mines, yet the narrator states that there are people with lots of kids in town and they have trouble feeding them. How the hell does a guy get the energy to come home and have sex to make a big family after choking on coal dust all day for 18-hours with nothing to eat? The semen for these babies had to come from somewhere...

    Yet another point: To accent the misery and to go with a starvation theme, our protagonist and her sister have no food to eat. "For three days, we'd had nothing but boiled water with some old dried mint leaves I'd found in the back of a cupboard." You can't eat boiled water...just sayin'.

    "Starvation's not an uncommon fate in District 12. Who hasn't seen the victims? Older people who can't work. Children from a family with too many to feed. Those injured in the mines. Straggling through the streets. And one day, you come upon them sitting motionless against a wall or lying in the Meadow, ye hear the wails from a house, and the Peacekeepers are called in to retrieve the body. Starvation is never the cause of death officially. It's always the flu, or exposure, or pneumonia. But that fools no one."

    Really? At left is a picture of a starving person.

    At right is a person with the flu.

    You're absolutely f*cking correct...I can see how no one is fooled at all.

    My point in this post is that I think the bar for publishing a novel is pretty damn low in America. If you aren't getting published, it's because you fail at social networking, it's because you fail at query letters, it's because you fail at pitches, it's because your face is kind of ugly, or your novel is too gay for a straight audience or doesn't have enough "romance" to open the pocketbooks of the huge section of the publishing pie dominated by female readers. Or, it's because what you want to say (whether or not it is well written) is not what the people in power want to hear. It isn't because your writing is bad. Oh no...that is not the problem. A baboon with a talented editor could write like this.

    I'm not here to hack on any author. This is not a review. This is to tell you, oh struggling author out there that lacks my unique precision to examine modern literature, that the reason you are not getting published is not because you suck. That may be what those who are published would like you to feel because as long as you suck, then they are geniuses in comparison...right? Who doesn't want to be looked up to and admired? I think that this is inherent within human nature. Nobody sets out saying, "Man, I'd really like to be seen as stupid by a lot of people today..." No, no, no... they want people to say uplifting words about them... "Did you hear that so and so is getting published by Scholastic? Wow...I always knew they were a genius..." Ayep. That's what they want to hear. But too much worship...too much of lifting these people up and setting them on a isn't healthy...and in my opinion, it isn't deserved.

    Sure...someone wrote a book. It got published. It made millions of dollars. But you can too. You just need to have the right people behind you and to do that...honestly...from where I stand, it has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. Whew...I'm glad I got that off my chest. Now you can go back to worshiping Ms. Collins while I toss it in the pile of books of which I won't read the sequels. The movies will be out soon anyway and at least then, I can go with someone and talk during the movie.