Friday, September 30, 2011

Dead Island

I've been playing this game with my friend Dillon on the p.c. and it's pretty sweet. Check out the trailer's really sad and just might make you cry (not kidding).  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Young Authors And Your Hair

I brought this up with Ciara Knight who runs an amazing blog, and yes, I am an odd duck that thinks of these things. Oh and I may have been influenced from having just watched Tangled as well (and the subliminal messages pushed by Disney).

Basically, I just want to know what's up? Why is long hair draping the heads of all of your books? Why do all of your female protagonists have long hair? 

Exhibit A--Please turn your eyes to the anecdotal evidence I have gathered to support my hypothesis:

Now, I just want to dismiss the idea that I'm making a blanket generalization.  I know that the percentage of young adult books that feature girls with long hair is not 100%.  Ciara Knight has already told me in a comment that her protagonist has short hair.  But the percentage is high.  I'm going to say maybe 95%.

So what's up with hair?  Why?  One of my best friends is Meg.  I asked her if I could post a picture of her and she agreed for this post that it would be okay.  So here she is at left.

Notice how short her hair is.  I think that Meg is a beautiful woman. So I guess my question is this.  What kind of message are all of you young adult authors out there peddling in your book? Is it that young ladies need to have long hair? If so...why?

Is it beauty?  Does having short hair make you less attractive to men?  I for one have plenty of guy friends and they never point out a girl's hair as the thing they are attracted to. It's always the "rack" or "butt" or body type.  So, am I just not getting something here?

Amanda Hocking goes really far with hair.  Her book Switched has pages devoted to hair care products, she refers to her character's hair all the time, calls it an unmanageable frizz and a tangled mess and whatnot.  She even says that her hair makes her ugly.  Like WTF?! Really?

And then there's the young adult movie Tangled by Walt Disney.  Rapunzel loses all of her magical power and becomes normal when her hair is cut.  It also goes from sunny gold to dark brown. However, I still find the new Rapunzel attractive for a cartoon.  But having her hair cut also freed her from the evil witch that dominated her life.  So is this a message? If you cut your hair you lose your power but you also set yourself free.

So discuss please.  Let me know your opinions on hair. I'm interested and want to know.  And please tell me if you are writing a young adult novel with a protagonist that has short hair. I would like to know why you made that choice seeing as the market is awash with long-haired ladies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Error in your query? Don't sweat it. Agent and Big Six contract incoming

Recently, Suzie Townsend got very excited over a query sent to her by author Mindee Arnett.  You can read it here.  By very excited, I mean she took time away from a conference and from planning a trip to New Zealand to drop everything for it. That's pretty major, right?  I want you to notice this line in particular from that query:
"Dusty learns that together she and Eli posses the rare ability to predict..."


1. Have as belonging to one; own: "I do not possess a television set".

2. Have possession of as distinct from ownership.

And in Suzie's pitch that she sent to editors at the Big Six that she sold in 16-days to Tor Teen, she also had an error.  You can read it here and I point out the error for you below:
"Now the Dusty has to follow the clues..."
Extra "the" there in case you don't see it.

Scratches head in puzzlement.

I'm not trying to throw eggs on Mindee's accomplishment. On the contrary, I congratulate her for being successful. And the same goes for super agent Suzie Townsend...congrats on her being so successful too.

No, what I'm bitching about discussing today is the lack of actual standards for this industry. It's all subjective.  It depends on mood, lighting, whatever a person ate for breakfast, timing, what they had to drink, did they sleep well the night before, etc.

I think that for the unpublished, unknown author, the single greatest factor in publishing success is LUCK.  Maybe as high as 50%.  Think about that...your chance of publishing is at least 50% luck.
This should read "Avoid publishing unlucky authors. Throw half of the slush pile
in the automatic rejection bin without reading them. What's left are the lucky ones.
Thank God for the form rejection. Otherwise you might actually owe
some of those people an actual response."
I just think that the advice given to authors about writing query letters should be more...I dunno... truthful.  For one, spelling errors don't necessarily matter. If your query letter can get the point across and the agent reading it likes what you've written, then you'll be successful.  Anyone that's written a query knows what a pain they are to write.  A ton of work goes into them.  Maybe if agents said, " can follow the guidelines but get our need to be lucky. Sorry...but the truth hurts."

Here's what I would have on my agency website if I were a literary agent.  I'd have the usual stuff, query formats and whatnot withstanding, but right after the part that says, "Send us only your most polished query letter" would be the part that says, "And if you're LUCKY, you'll get my attention, and I'll get back to you."  That would be honesty.

Random but related thought ==> If Suzie did care about spelling...maybe she actually thinks that "possess" is spelled "posses" and never called into question the quality of the book. I mean, I hear all the time from agents that "an error in your query gives us an impression of how your book is. One error there makes me wonder how chock full of them your manuscript may be. It's an instant form rejection!" So just imagine if the person reading your query thinks a word is spelled one way when in fact it is spelled another and they reject it thinking you didn't spell check. Wouldn't THAT be interesting?

And just for the record...I don't see content-wise why this offering from Mindee caught Suzie's eye.  That's why I say she got lucky.  It seems like a cross between Harry Potter with a wizard "school" via Chamber of Secrets (kids being killed) with that of other tropes like Being Human's ghost main character that watched her former boyfriend sleep and Piers Anthony's "Nightmare" (part of the Xanth series). I mean...I've read lots of "these types of queries" on my journeys through the blogosphere from people getting ready to send to agents that want help on their query letters.

I'm not saying it doesn't deserve to get published. It absolutely does. And absolutely deserves representation. But so do a dozen others that I can name off the top of my head that have queries very similar to this only without any errors, and these authors got nothing but rejections.

And you know what advice people out there give to these writers that are getting rejected.  It's this: "Oh, your query must not be working. It must be bad. Revise and resend."  Basically, they are told to go back to the drawing board, to re-edit, and revise, and send to new agents when they are ready.  However, there is no scientific rock-solid proof that this is the case. I'm an atheist...I need proof to believe in things. There is no proof. It's simply conjecture...guessing.  You know what I say?  I say you got rejected because you just WEREN'T LUCKY.  You got that?  You have BAD frickin' luck? How do you like them apples?  I don't suggest you go and buy a lotto ticket anytime soon. You'll probably lose at that too.

With regard to the query example...I don't see what caused the "OMG...I MUST DROP EVERYTHING NOW BECAUSE THIS IS AMAZING" moment. Especially given the spelling error. "Posses" is plural for "posse" which means a group of individuals.  It's all...just...interesting.

That's my two cents for today.  Invest in some four leaf clovers and some giraffe earrings of amazing juju.  They shall serve you better than a spell check.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Terra Nova Was AWESOME

I watched the two-hour season premiere of Terra Nova and found it thoroughly satisfying. In my opinion, it really upped the bar for science-fiction television. Things that I liked:

  1. The explanation that the colonists in the past are actually living in an alternate time stream to that of the future. That was kind of cool.
  2. The dinosaurs looked as good as the ones in Jurassic Park.
  3. Each character has their own stakes. The dad has his family at stake, Josh left his true love in the future and is feeling reckless, the doctor has a whole colony to take care of, and the kids are just trying to be kids in a world that wants to eat them. Kudos for the shot of the dinosaur gnawing on a kid's leg. That was awesome.
  4. The natural world is filled with tremendous beauty and I bet they showcase that all season.
  5. The world they left was the epitome of dystopian. People have to wear breath masks, there is no moon or stars...only pollution and overcrowding. The government forces families to have only two kids...overpopulation means extinction.
  6. The whole blend of high-tech weapons vs. dinosaurs is cool because the colony is so small.  And just to add flavor, they threw in additional conflict with a rogue colony that broke off from the main one and is in control of the mineral mine.
  7. LOST style J.J. Abrams mystery with drawings on the rocks near the waterfalls left by the colony leader's son who is missing but some kind of mathematical genius that knows something about the future.
  8. They've kept religion out of it. It's a new society and thus far, I didn't see a church anywhere. I can't say that there isn't going to be one...but that was one of the things I hated about Battlestar Galactica. I just thought the religion aspect got way too heavy so that it dominated storylines.  And they're headed that way in Falling Skies too.
  10. Great acting on the part of the colony leader played by the villain from the movie Avatar.
I think the funnest part of this show is just letting my imagination run wild with the characters.  I mean...what would it be like to not have to work some 40-hour a week job for mediocre pay but instead be 85-million years in the past with other humans trying to build a future and forge a society? Imagine the primeval world that existed back then and how danger and adventure would be around every corner.  Awesome cannot begin to describe how that would feel...and they capture it perfectly in this show.

I can't wait for next week. If you aren't watching Terra Nova and you love really should do yourself a favor and watch. Seriously.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seeking feedback from the obligated reader

In my opinion, reading is a natural thing.  It is a natural process. A person who is not concerned with the politics of the actual publishing industry who simply wants a book to enjoy goes on an exploration. They make a selection based off of many factors...cover art, reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations.  Notice that I left out the word "obligation".  I did this intentionally because I think an obligated reader makes the act of reading a chore.  However, that is exactly the kind of feedback many authors seek out when working on a manuscript.

I think that an obligated reader is the worst kind of reader. An obligated reader is irate...similar to the irateness one feels when obligated to attend an event that they don't want to go to. They need to fulfill an obligation because it has been assigned to them. They are an editor, an agent, or the friend of an author who coerces them into reading their manuscript.  Or, they are a fellow author who reads the work in the hope that the other person will take an interest in their writing.  I also think that "give-a-way" critiques make for an obligation as well.  There's a reason they are offering that service--it simply isn't out of the goodness of their own heart. But it could be as simple as more traffic and positive word-of-mouth. obligation it is and they really, truthfully, don't want to read your stuff but hide behind a smile and the thought (I'm going to get through this as quickly as possible).

So, if your only choice for feedback is twisting the arm of someone who ordinarily wouldn't do so, how then is this going to affect your manuscript?  Quite a bit actually.

The irate reader is going to insist on being hooked right off the bat (depending of course on the level of obligation).  "You'd better hook me in the first sentence, the first paragraph, or the first page or we are done!"

They will be brimming with all the tools from their MFA classes, red pen handy. They will slash at your adverbs (ignoring the fact that authors like J.K. Rowling are awash with them and make millions if not billions of dollars).  They will pound things like show don't tell, they will grab their soapbox and nitpick your story to DEATH.

The irate reader is the WORST reader on the planet. And really...I think any feedback you get from an irate reader is almost worthless. You'd be better off just hiring an editor to help you get your manuscript in shape for whatever it is that you intend to do with it.  At least then, the person isn't irate with you and out for vengeance for making them do "work".

Do you seek feedback from people that are obligated to read your writing?
If so...have you been happy with the result?
Have you been an obligated reader for someone else?
If did that turn out?

With my own writing, I have an editor and that's it. I decided never to seek feedback from anyone that I had to obligate to read my work.  The only "obligated" readers I've had were agents that requested pages and those were all rejections.  As a parting "monday" thought, I find it interesting that the gateway to publishing must go through readers who are irritated because they are FORCED to read in order to buy the latest spring fashions and pay for spa appointments.  I guess that's why it's called "work".

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Fairy Tale For Straight Men

nce upon a time, a prince asked a beautiful princess "Will you marry me?"

The princess said "Hell no" and the prince lived happily ever after.

He rode motorcycles and f*cked skinny big-titted broads

and hunted and raced cars and went to naked bars

and dated women half his age and drank whiskey, beer,
and Captain Morgan....

The prince never heard bitching and never paid child support or alimony
and ate p*ssies and ass-f*cked cheerleaders and kept his house
and guns and never got cheated on while he was at work
and all his friends and family thought he was f*cking cool as hell
and he had tons of money in the bank
and he never read books because he was sexy as all get
and there just wasn't time for any of that
and in the end, he left the toilet seat up.

His name was George Clooney

The End.

See...fairy tales aren't just for women and kids.  Men have them too.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Copycats Of Fiction Have No Shame And Make Millions

When Terry Brooks published The Sword of Shannara, I was one of the first kids to dive straight into it.  And even at that early age (I was in junior high school at the time) I remember being shocked at how much it followed Tolkien's Lord of the Rings point-by-point. In LOTR you had the nine Brooks you had the nine skullbearers, in LOTR you had Sauron, in Brooks you had the Warlock Lord, and it goes on and on.  The King of the Silver River is Elrond, the Hall of Kings is Moria complete with monster at the gate, and the druids are simply the Istari wizards.  The Druids Keep is Isengard and Allanon is Gandalf, etc.  You even have two hobbits...only they aren't called hobbits but they are from Shady Vale...a place a lot like Hobbiton. And their names are Flint and Shea instead of Frodo and Sam.  Anyway...this is a well documented thing...the fact that a New York Times bestselling author blatantly stole from the grandfather of all epic fantasy and in the one gave a shit.  And to Brooks' credit, it didn't stop me from reading his books. I was hungry for fantasy at the time so I bought all the Shannara books as they came out and they steadily got better and better (and more original).  I thought Elfstones of Shannara was awesome so yeah...he forged himself a great writing career. However, just out of the gate (so to speak) I thought things were so shameless with his first book that I would have been downright embarrassed had anyone called me on it.

Anyway, this is happening again in a book I'm reading.  What book you ask?  It's Amanda Hocking's Trylle trilogy and the first book is called Switched. Don't get me wrong...Amanda is a wonderful writer.  I enjoy her prose but the woman doesn't have a story. No, she has Stephanie Meyer's story.  Things started smacking me over the head about Chapter Six.  Let me see if you can pick what book she is following point-by-point as I lay them out for you.
These two books are essentially the same story. Only names have
been changed.  
We are introduced to the female protagonist named Wendy.  She considers herself unattractive, her hair is awful, and she has no friends.  She's the new girl in a high school in a small town and awkward as hell.  One day, a gorgeous boy starts staring at her and continues to do so until it makes her so uncomfortable she can't stand it.  When she asks him about it...he is evasive...won't give her a straight answer.  Only later on does she discover that he's a Trylle...the word for troll...and that he has essentially super powers.  And he's very long-lived.  Oh and he visits her in her bedroom at night...does this scene sound familiar?

One night outside her home, her life is threatened.  Not with a careening car but setup almost the same.  Two people attack her and "Finn" the hot dude saves her all by himself (pushing the bad people away). Then he takes her to his home which is absolutely gorgeous to meet his family of other trolls who are Gucci and Prada wearing, sushi-eating, upper class snobs.  I mean super rich. Like millionaire rich (high society). And it's secluded in the woods (think evergreen forests) with a view of the Mississippi River... Instead of a black Volvo we have a black Porsche.  She also finds out that there's something inherent in her that makes Finn stare at her. He can smell her.  It's her hair (not blood) and it's irresistible to other Trylle.

That's all the farther I've gotten...but does that sound familiar to you?  Does that point-by-point sound like a certain highly successful New York Times bestseller?

I know that some of you writers out there always say, "There are no original ideas." But COME ON! for Pete's sake!?

I mean, is there any shame to this?  Here...let me give you an example of what I mean...

Hey author friends! Here's my AMAZING plot for my story...OMG...IT'S SO GOOD AND I WILL MAKE MILLIONS. I even have cover art for it already made...check it out:

Dude from a future where mankind is pushed to extinction by machines escapes through a portal into the past.  He's on a mission to save a woman targeted by the machines of the future.  He has to stop a killer robot only, along the way, he falls in love with the woman and they have sex and she gets pregnant.  Here's the hitch...her baby will someday be this guy's father.

Holy shit!  Isn't that great?!  I iz so smart this is sure to be a bestseller and you all will be jealous while I'm making millions.

Anyway...what do you guys think? Amanda's books are huge bestsellers (maybe not as big as Twilight) but they've made her rich.  Terry Brooks is a rich fat cat too and he blatantly copied Tolkien.  I'm wondering why someone isn't blatantly copying J.K. Rowling.  I mean you could do it and self-pub and probably catch a portion of the same audience that J.K. has.  Even at 1% that's 4 million people that are going to buy your books.  How would you like to sell 4 million books?

Oh's my story...there's this paranormal school that teaches wizards ghosts, vamps, werewolf kids how to properly use their powers.  Each one has a wand fetish like a silver bullet or locket that they channel their magic through.  There are professors in the school.  One paranormal boy named Charles Hatter is the only kid that survived when dark wizards ghosts, vamps, and werewolves led by Voldemort a real powerful dude attacked the family and left a mark on his forehead eyes (his eyes have flickering lightning bolts in the irises).

And to any of you that would say "You can get sued for this kind of copycat behavior"...I don't think that you can. Maybe Mr. Pagel can weigh in on this because he's a lawyer. But I'm pretty sure that ideas cannot be copyrighted...meaning a general a plot.

Anyway...authors that do this have no shame.  I'm actually kind of disgusted.  But they are richer than me and have huge publishing contracts so does what I think really matter? Nope.

How the hell did publishing get to be so terrible? Is it money? Are people so hard up to make a buck that they clone what other writers come up with and pass it off as their own story?  Does it ever occur to people that if they are just blatantly going to steal a novel point-for-point, chapter-by-chapter and just change names and setting that...I dunno...maybe the world doesn't need another book like this?  I guess I'm old school.  Writing isn't just about writing for me. It's storytelling. And please don't tell me a story I've already heard. I don't want to read George R.R. Martin's story as told by John Doe with all the names changed and have to put up with all the praise you get lauded because the idiots out there who read books aren't well read enough to know that a story is a ripoff.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The 7x7 Link Award

Tim Riley and Rusty Webb awarded me with the  7x7 Link Award.  Basically this award involves looking back at old posts to find pieces of writing that made a mark, and I can appreciate this.

Most Beautiful:  I think that my most beautiful post is going to be the one that has (in my opinion) the best looking art on it. That would have to be my post on the art selected for the 2012 George R.R. Martin Calendar that I put up. These pictures by John Picacio are plain awesome.

Most Helpful:  I'd say this goes to "The Misunderstood Exclamation Point" which consequently is one of my better searches that seems to come up.  People googling it are probably pissed off that my post is such a smartass one. Honestly, for genuine writing advice, Moody Writing by Mooderino is the place to go. Here on my site, I don't feel I can add anything to the world of writing so instead I choose to be snarky about most things.  Mooderino is on a one-person mission to make every blogger into someone that writes Pulitzer Prize-winning prose.  It's too bad that the authors making millions will never adhere to any of Mooderino's advice. But college professors who sell five books a year are so on top of that.

Most Popular:  This is a huge surprise but blogger stats says it is my post on "The Eyrie".  I guess this must be because of the popularity of George R.R. Martin's writing.

Most Controversial:  My recent post on Understanding Men To Write Your Fiction. It got a lot of views and quite a few one-page comments.

Most Surprisingly Successful:  My flash fiction entry for Rachael Harrie's third platform-building crusade.  It got almost 90 comments.  I was pretty stunned.  It's the post with the most comments but not the post with the most page views.

Most Underrated:  I think my most underrated post is the one where I show what Wonder Woman can show us about writing.  It took a lot of thought and was one of my more interesting .gif parades.

Most Prideworthy:  This is easy.  My post on signing with Double Dragon Publishing for my upcoming novel.  I must have gotten rejected by agents fifty times (I think) before I gave up.  In there somewhere was a few partials, one full manuscript request, and comments like "LOL...I can't represent this," or "Hey there, I think if you go into a bookstore you'll find the kind of books that you want to write and answer your own question."

The last response came from a "big wheel" in the writing industry.  I asked him via email if being a debut author in this terrible economy coupled with a gay male protagonist was essentially "asking the impossible" from the Big Six Publisher from a pure marketing standpoint.  Needless to say, I did go out and investigate and discovered "my kinds of books" next to the restroom under the burned out flickering fluorescent light bulb.  No one else was in the aisle...the shelves looked dusty.  My "kinds" of books got the same treatment as the YA books that feature black protagonists.

So I decided to pursue small- to mid-size publishers. We had a discussion on Rogue Mutt's blog sometime this year about the benefits of going with a small- to mid-size publisher and the general consensus is that a publisher of any kind seemed "better" for most people than just self-publishing. So that's why I did it.  And I never felt better about my writing.

I was able to go back to the sequel and finish it and feel like it was going to be read.  I had closure on that first book that I wrote for the series because an actual editor liked it.  More importantly, I could stop hunting for ideas to pen yet another novel to query after the current one got rejected by all the agents out there (the third one that I wrote just this year...and yes it's finished but just sitting in a drawer. It's a fantasy instead of sci-fi and I've queried it to only 8 agents who rejected it).  Just for the record...what a bunch of bullshit that cycle is.  Writing a novel to collect rejections.  Exhausting your list of agents and then writing another novel to rinse/repeat.  Especially when you know that your previous novel is good...and you go back to it and read it again and guess really is good.

I also honestly didn't think that my sci-fi book would ever find a home. I sent it to Samhain where it got rejected, then onto Mundania Press where it got rejected, and to the slush piles at both Tor and Penguin (which subsequently rejected it).  These last two were really slow.  When you submit your manuscript to a publisher, they frequently want exclusivity while considering it.  So Tor and Penguin each took 6-months (one year right there waiting for rejections on those two).  I also tried Bold Strokes Books and Dreamspinner Press and got rejected.  I'd always kept my eye on Double Dragon...but never got the guts to submit to them (and plus their submission requirements looked really frickin' hard).  I also thought to myself that if a genuine honest to god sci-fi publisher read my book and rejected it, then I should just hang up my writing and move onto something that may have been a huge delay in me asking Double Dragon to publish my book.

Meanwhile, all I was doing was sitting around writing more books and haunting Rogue Mutt's blog where I have three times the amount of comments than anyone else that goes there because I can be an opinionated man who likes the world to know what his opinions are.  I guess that's the danger with all of us, right? People better not piss us off because we are writers and by god...every single one of us will log onto our blogs and yap yap yap our fingers off about what we think and then hit "publish" to the world.  I think my brother lives in fear that I'll put something about him up here and then have 100 comments on it from people he's never met.


Here is where I pick on bestow seven people to receive this honor.  I choose the following:

Steph Schmidt
E.J. Wesley
Sarah Ketley
Tamara Paulin
Danette Baltzer
Joe Vasicek
J.L. Campbell

Remember you winners that your thanks for choosing you above all others is not necessary. I know how overwhelmed you must feel. If you truly must thank me, never ever pick me for a blog award again. That in itself shall be sufficient.  However, if this be my fate, I too shall return the thanks whenever I get the opportunity.  I can promise that much.

Hugs and kisses XOXO  :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting My T.V. On

Now that the Emmy's are over and all the television shows that I love are starting up, I decided to do a post about them to 1) organize my thoughts and my DVR and 2) to let you guys know about them in case you want to watch them too and then we can gossip about them. Please say you are nodding your head yes.

Right now I watch Breaking Bad but as soon as the season is over, the Walking Dead starts in the same time slot on October 16th.  And oh I'm so excited.  Above is the poster for season two and it looks so apocalyptic it just draws me in.  Here's the teaser trailer for the season:

Before AMC's hit series launches into its second season on Oct. 16, we're going to learn exactly what kicked off the zombie apocalypse—through the eyes of one particular zombie.  In Walking Dead's pilot episode, "Days Gone Bye," the good sheriff Rick Grimes stumbles out of a hospital to see a world ravaged by an unseen event that caused the dead to not stay dead. One of the first things he encounters is a legless zombie, slowly making her way from an unseen Point A to an indeterminate Point B.

A new six-part web series, directed and conceived by Walking Dead FX maestro and co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, will tell the story of this zombie—also known by her given name, Hannah—and, through her, reveal the early days of the zombie-laden hell on earth.

The web series will premiere on Oct. 2. The nightmares will begin shortly thereafter.

The Alphas season finale is on 9/26. Coinciding with that is Terra Nova in a huge two-hour series premiere and it looks really frickin' good.  Check out this trailer for it:
Also I shall be watching the new season of House. At the end of last season he drove into Cuddy's home and the preview for this season has him in prison. It's going to occupy the time slot right after Terra Nova so I can watch these or DVR them back-to-back...squee.

This week is the one-hour premiere for Modern Family.  I love this show because it is so funny and the gay couple is refreshing too. Also on Wednesday night is season two of Harry's Law.  I gotta get my court drama in and I absolutely love how Kathy Bates plays Harriet.

Big Bang Theory beginning with episode 1 entitled, "The Skank Reflex Analysis". After the season four "walk-of-shame" done by Penny after having slept with Rajesh...Penny reveals she wants to be "just friends." Raj replies, "Well as friends then you may want to know that we didn't have sex in the conventional manner." Insert awkward look.   And...I may peek in on Bones even though they really pissed me off with Vincent's death.
Double whammy of Supernatural season 7 premiere and Fringe season four premiere.  Oh I love you DVR.
So this is what I got lined up. Is anyone else out there passionate about t.v.?

And I swear I am not addicted to t.v.  So none of you get into your minds that you need to stage an intervention.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever Blogfest

Super blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting the "Worst Movies Ever" blogfest today.  Here's the blurb for it that appeared on his blog:

On Monday, September 19, post a list of up to ten of the worst movies you’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. Films that just oozed awfulness and featured plot holes so big you could drive a bus through them. Any genre or year, but only theater and straight to video/DVD titles. (Otherwise we’d all list every movie ever made by the SyFy Channel!) Sign up, grab the button, and on September 19, give us the worst! And be sure to visit others participating in the blogfest.

My pick for worst movie ever is The Human Centipede.  Here's the plot:
Two American college girls become the subjects of a sadistic medical experiment while on a road trip across Europe. Invited to a party by a handsome waiter, Jenny and Lindsay are en route to the festivities when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Desperate, they decide to seek help on foot, eventually coming across the home of a retired surgeon named Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser). Dr. Heiter is internationally renowned for his work on separating conjoined twins, but these days he's using his surgical skills for something entirely different. His goal is to create a human centipede by removing his patient's kneecaps, and sewing them together, mouth-to-anus. The only thing preventing Dr. Heiter from carrying out his experiment is a lack of human subjects. When Jenny and Lindsay arrive on his doorstep, Dr. Heiter enthusiastically begins prepping for surgery. 
Get the picture?

The Human Centipede is a terrible film.  But I'm not going to explain why it is terrible. Rather I'm going to just paraphrase what Roger Ebert has to say about this film:
I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine.
The only remarkable thing about The Human Centipede is that it has spawned all kinds of memes. Even Southpark did an episode called the Human Centipad (which ended up being hilarious).

So yourself about ninety minutes and avoid this film.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lace Your Shoes

Does your protagonist wear sneakers? Try using one of these to give a little spin to their personality:

You can tell a lot by a person's shoes, I often say.

In the least, it's something that the non "tragically hip" can handle.

Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Understanding Men To Write Your Fiction

I'm not a Psychologist, but I think I understand why men do many of the things that they do.  And so I'm going to tell you.  Who knows...maybe what I say here will help you in portraying them in your fiction.  Now, this post is a generalization and there will of course be specifics that I'm sure I'll get nailed on.  Men (like women) are simply too complex to talk about here. That is the nature of the human brain.  Anyway, here's what I've noticed...take it with a grain of salt if you want...I don't care if you think I'm a flake.  I'm a guy and I think I understand other guys.  So here it theory of men.

I think men have an innate desire to be somebody. All the choices that they make in our society boil down to this testosterone-driven primal urge.

I think men go into politics not to fix a problem but again to be somebody--an odd reason to want a job, right?  Fixing a problem is only a consequence of them holding office...something they must deal with that is a distraction of being somebody.

I think men play video games to win. Winning makes you instantly a somebody.  Men really like to win.  And they like watching other people win because birds of a feather flock together. Winners watch winners.

I think men play games period to win.  If it's a social game like Dungeons & Dragons where winning is not obvious...then they are playing to be the best one at the table and to outdo everyone else.

I think men choose their love partners because their partner makes them feel like they are somebody. The implications of this are pretty wide.  What I'm saying is that they don't care so much WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE so much as they care that other people are jealous that they own you.  They just have to get this doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to be true. It just needs to exist in their minds. And if there's ever a time when people don't want you, when you are an undesirable commodity for whatever reason, then attraction will fade even if things on a personal level are going great.

I think that men cheat because the person with whom they are cheating makes them feel like they are a somebody more so than the person with whom they are currently in a relationship.

I think that men dominate religions because religion is an instant platform by which to be somebody and they love being in that position.

I think that men go through a mid-life crisis when they feel that they are becoming invisible and they have this perception in their mind that they were somebody to begin with...even if they never were. All that matters is what they think.  The mid-life crisis is just a way to try and recapture that feeling that they were, at one time, relevant.

I think that one reason why Twilight is so successful is because Stephenie Meyer subconsciously KNEW THIS about men. Edward loves Bella for who she is and it doesn't matter that she's important to anyone else.  The real romance is that "Bella" needs no other validation from any of Edward's peers and he loves her all the same.  I think that this is entirely fiction because it isn't the way men think...hence...why it's uber romantic.  Women may not quite put it so bluntly...they may not realize that what I'm saying is going on...but as others point out...I can be very blunt.

And it's also why Twilight fails with a male audience.  Men want to be somebody.  They don't want to read about a woman that is the somebody.  They want the man TO BE THE ONE that is a somebody. Twilight removes the nuts from the fails with a male audience.

And it's why George R.R. Martin succeeds with a male audience.  All of his men are important and they are in a power struggle to prove who is the most important.  It's awash in testosterone and every man who reads it cannot get enough.

People talk about boys not reading.  I think that boys DO read and want to read.  I think that men read and want to read.  But if you want to appeal to men, you're book has GOT TO make the man live the fiction of BEING SOMEBODY important.  J.K. Rowling did it with Harry Potter AND managed to also appeal to a huge female audience.  But make no mistake, Harry (the man) was the big somebody in the book.  Either this or the act of reading the book MAKES them a somebody. This is where the intellectual snobs come in, touting Ulysses by James Joyce or an original version of Don Quixote in Spanish because they read it and are somebody because of having done that.

So my advice is...if you are writing a story...and you are wondering if a man would do a certain just pause.  Stop.  Ask yourself these questions:  By doing this, is the man getting an ego boost? Is he being somebody?  By screwing a girl in the backseat of a car will his friends high-five him?  By dealing drugs does he get money so that he can buy a low-rider all tricked out with bling that his other friends will drool over?  By cheating on his spouse, is the woman (or man) that he is with making him feel better at the moment than he feels when he is with his partner?  If he chooses to ignore the partner at home and play a video the video game making him feel like he is somebody because he's winning and beating things down and destroying things?  If a man turns down money offered from a friend who just wants to he doing so because accepting the gift makes him into a nobody?  Being a nobody...being mediocre...that sucks.  And if you want men to like your fiction, they don't want to feel mediocre.

That's just my two cents.

EDIT: I received a very interesting question from fellow blogger Ciara Knight. She asked why the Hunger Games was so successful given a female protagonist.  I wanted to answer that here because it's a great question and I wanted to clarify something. Female protagonists are perfectly acceptable and men will read them (I know I do). But to resonate, the theme of the book and the protag need to be winners. The Hunger Games is about winning and the stakes are very high if you lose. This makes it all the better. Men like stories of winning, challenges, more winning...pure winning.  Look at Twilight again (as an example).  What does Bella win? A boyfriend? That's not guy material. But ask yourself what does Katniss win and what does she stand to lose by not winning? It's the very essence of being somebody.

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