A Funny Thing Happened When I stuck My Head Outside for Some Truth

truthThe internet has been full of articles about fake news lately. Just what is fake news? It’s not as black and white as you may think. Speaking of that analogy, there is a video game by Treasure, called Ikaruga where you toggle between a white and black spaceship, while in the white state you absorb bullets that are white but die if you touch anything black, and vice-versa. We’ve become pretty much like that little spaceship, absorbing what we match and reacting violently to anything we don’t. So naturally the the journey to anything resembling truth is a perilous one. I could go on but I think Nathan Bransford summed it up perfectly in this article. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2016/11/the-end-of-truth.html

A democratic society depends on information, but more than that it depends on information that is delivered equally. That equality is currently under attack. Even as writers of fiction we need truth in small pieces to help us sell our readers the more fantastic bits. That bit of truth creates a common ground for the reader and pulls them into the story. What happens when we don’t agree on what that ground is? We get confusion and right now we have a lot of confusion. In the past we relied on truth to give us a common point of reference. Now, not so much. Our differences and our opinions are the new truth. It kind of gives me an idea of a story where no one experiences the same reality. Wait a minute, according to Quantum Theory that’s what we do every day. So then is truth overrated?

How to Tell If You’re Having an Agrument

With all the nonsense of another election season behind us I thought I’d reflect on something I’ve recently come to notice. There appears be a disconnect on what is the difference between a debate and an argument. So I think I’ve uncovered the secret to knowing if you’ve had an argument or a debate.

If after both parties discuss their view and still cannot see the merits of the other side you have had an argument. If after discussing both sides and you agree that there is merit in exploring both sides further you’re having a debate. Here’s to hoping we will see more debates and less arguments in the near future.

The Personal Touch

In the past, I’m talking before email, querying agents meant either typing up or printing 30 letters or using some kind of mail merge program to put in the names and addresses. There wasn’t much room to add in any personal remarks. Email has made that process much simpler and as a result many have taken to personalizing their query letter for the agent. Is it helpful? Will it make a difference? Who knows. For myself, I do usually begin my query with a sentence saying why I am sending the letter to that specific agent. But then again why go by what I do? Here is what some professionals in the field think about personalized query letters. In particular here is a blog post from Nathan Bransford replying to a post from Janet Reid,  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2016/11/in-defense-of-personalized-queries-and.html on that very subject.

Independent Authors Day

village-books-publishing-bellingham_0This Saturday, October 8th, is Independent Authors Day. You can find out more at http://indieauthorday.com/. Amazon also has devoted a page to their Independent Authors Powered by Indie I will even be hosting a panel of 6 Independent Authors for a Q & A at the Northwest Regional Library in Surprise on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

One question that comes up is, just what makes an author an independent? Essentially, it’s an author who is self publishing their work through something like Amazon Kindle Publishing, Barnes and Noble Nookpress, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords, or others that I can’t recall off the top of my head. The reasons for this are varied, new authors in particular are attracted to these presses simply by virtue of there being no other alternative. Published authors are also attracted to this avenue by the promise of better royalties and more creative control. The one thing Independent publishing is not, is a farm team of sorts for authors. These authors work just as hard and in some cases harder because they do have more riding on these books. As an independent you do not have a marketing department or slick social media campaign to drive word of mouth. It is all you. Days like October 8th are important because they let people know that if you have a book inside you there is a place where you can go to see it in print. Spend some time this Saturday and learn about what Independent Publishing is all about.  #PoweredByIndie

One Blog Post You Must Read

If you’re looking at a blank sheet of paper and have the idea that you are going to fill that paper with words and call it your first novel you need to read this post from Joanna Penn at thecreativepenn.com: Writing Fiction: 7 Steps to Write Your First Novel.

I’m thinking of printing his out and taping it to my laptop cover. Remember tons of authors had to write a first novel at some point, the only difference is now you might have a better idea of what you’re getting into.

The Word That Shall Not Be Uttered

I was going to share this, then I wasn’t but now I figured I will. I ran across this post from Janet Reid’s awesome blog: http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-n-word.html

I think she covered this from a very interesting angle as a writer. I would like to add to the discussion what I think is the danger of having such verboten words. Think about it, what if you woke up one day and the word tumultuous was no longer allowed in print or speech? How would we ever describe loud confused noises? This could not be a worse example but just think on it.

I’m not making light of what this word represents, it’s history or inherent ugliness. I just wonder, should we as writers, be accepting of  a language with certain words that we cannot use at all? Especially when the feelings those words conjure could be otherwise conveyed? Now our responsibility is that should we use such a word we must be very clear in our context what the purpose of that word is. Remember words have power and when that power is abused there are consequences.

The Strange Thing About Stranger Things

stranger-things-bannerIf you’ve been anywhere near Facebook the last month or so you have probably heard about one of the greatest things to come to TV in a long time. Subscribers of Netflix have had the pleasure of watching a short 8 episode trip through the rabbit hole called Stranger Things. I’ll say now it is as good as you have heard. Just go watch it.

The strange thing my title is referring to is why aren’t there more shows like this? Not necessarily Sci-Fi, but shows that do everything right, story setting, acting and pace. In 8 episodes the writers and actors of Stranger Things managed to do what some shows couldn’t do in 24. And yet, this isn’t coming from a major network, but a video streaming service. Let that sink in. Would the brain trusts that run ABC, NBC, Fox or CBS have guts to give something like this a shot. Oh I’m sure now you’ll see an armful of shows in the not too distant future that will ape Stranger Things because that is what the heads of programing at these networks think people want.

Still, the point I am trying to make is, whether it is TV, Music, or Books, the next big sensation always seems to come from out of nowhere from the least likely place. This gives me hope, not just for my writing finding a home, but for the content that I love to consume. I don’t want the same reheated signed off on by focus groups stuff. I want epic earth moving content that is on the edge, makes me think, and even more makes me want to write. So thank you Netflix, you made my summer, as many I’m sure, will be remembering this as the summer of Stranger Things.